Most of the paeans to the late Steve Jobs have focused on the Apple founder and CEO's legacy as a technology and product marketing genius. But he was also a supply chain innovator whose ideas influenced how many companies produce and deliver their products today.
Think how iTunes changed the way music is distributed, how the iPad is changing the way print media are distributed (our very own iPad app being a case in point), and how iPhones are revolutionizing the way consumers buy goods and services. In the last couple of years, iPhones and iPads have been finding their way into the warehouse and DC, and are increasingly used by truck drivers and couriers to track and manage shipments. And hardly a week goes by that we don't receive an announcement from carriers, 3PLs, or software companies of a new logistics-related iPhone app.
Jobs clearly understood the role Apple's supply chain played in the company's financial and marketing success. It's no surprise that the company has several times ranked at the top of the annual Gartner/AMR list of best-run supply chains. Further evidence of Jobs' supply chain savvy: His handpicked successor, Tim Cook, was the company's longtime chief operating officer, with responsibility for supply chain, including manufacturing, distribution, logistics, and inventory management. Cook—with Jobs' blessing—was instrumental in moving Apple some years ago from a build-your-own supply chain model to a cost-efficient one centered on supplier management and contract manufacturing.