I see that the true competitive advantage for firms competing in this age lies in their management systems, particularly their supply chain management systems. The complexity of supply chain management makes it difficult to imitate, and allows firms with advanced supply chains to have a sustainable competitive edge over others. For example, you can’t become the next Walmart or the next Dell overnight, it takes years of experience complemented with the necessary integrative technologies to run a smooth supply chain. These entities mastered their supply chains early on, and remain competitive as a result of heavily investing in their supply chains.

Even more, the current global trend towards outsourcing and offshoring puts supply chain management at the forefront of senior management agendas.  We live in an era of distributed manufacturing and service processes, where ownership and control of processes have changed.  Competitiveness here depends on how a firm can best manage its resources and operations across borders.  Managers need to operate their supply chains in light of the ever-changing communication technologies and global trends.

Maintaining a supply chain business perspective can create opportunities for Egyptian Start-ups.  Supply chain management goes beyond the firm’s borders and boundaries.  Egyptian companies need to master how to profit from supply chain and how to use technology to their benefit. The ability to detect the ‘gaps’ in the supply chains of local and global firms can result in innovative solutions in response to unfulfilled business needs across the supply chain.  These innovations could be IT related, or innovations in sub-processes of larger manufacturing or service operations.

Global trade has also evolved.  Qualifying to become a global supplier used to be an exhaustive process and required travel investments to attend international symposiums.  Online trading has allowed many small businesses to have global presence using a smaller budget.  I often mention this at the beginning of my Supply chain management course “Supply chain management is the most complex competitive advantage a firm can have, however, it is never owned by one firm alone, it passes firms’ boundaries making it more challenging and risk associated.”

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