By Maria Jesus Saenz and Ken Cottrill

It seems that no self-respecting company can be without a digital transformation (DT) strategy these days. But shifting an organization from an analog mindset to the brave new world of digitalization is a long and challenging journey. Where do you start, how do you prepare employees, and once there, how do you engender trust in digitalized processes?

These issues were explored from a retail industry perspective at a recent MIT CTL roundtable. The Future of Retailing roundtable took place on November 14-15 2018, and brought together supply chain practitioners from various organizations including manufacturers, retailers and third-party logistics providers.

The discussions did not yield any magic bullets—there aren’t any, of course—but they did produce a number of insights that can help companies tread easier as they quest toward a digitalized
supply chain future.

Getting Started

Identifying a starting point in the journey is not easy, especially when companies are deluged with information and advice on how they should proceed. But rather than spending vast amounts of time considering possibilities and generating a lot of frustration, another approach is to opt for any project that gets you on your way and is likely to deliver some successes—even modest ones—that can be easily shared and engage the organization.

This might seem a little too serendipitous, but you can refine your search criteria to increase the chances of success. For example, choose an external supply chain partner that is motivated and needs your contribution, has experience and knowledge it is willing to impart, and is interested in a specific project that can be scaled and quantified. As the partnership develops, you can expand your horizons to other partners.

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Maria Jesus Saenz, Ph.D., is research scientist, executive director of the SCM Blended Master Program at the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (MIT CTL). She can be reached at Ken Cottrill is the global communications consultant at MIT CTL. He can be reached at