Your Must-Have Gartner Debrief: The 4 Key Takeaways from Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo 2023 - ToolsGroup

Your Must-Have Gartner Debrief: The 4 Key Takeaways from Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo 2023 – ToolsGroup

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Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo 2023 has wrapped up its 3-day event in Orlando, Florida.

Featuring over fifty Gartner experts and more than 140 research-driven sessions, this year’s conference gathered over 3,700 supply chain professionals from across North America and beyond.

Our team was energized by the insightful conversations we had and sessions we attended, and we’re excited to share what we’ve learned!

Looking for a snapshot of the key highlights? Look no further. Here are the top takeaways we compiled from Gartner Symposium 2023.

1. Business goals are the key to “next steps.” 

It’s always easier to take the next step when you know where you’re headed.

That’s why so many supply chain leaders who shared their experience with us expressed their intent to let business and financial goals drive their digital transformations.

With a clear directive and KPIs to measure the real impact of new intiatives, they understand the concrete steps to take next in their global supply chain journeys. These often included:

  • Collaborating more effectively with suppliers: More organizations are embracing a more holistic supply chain strategy by knowledge-sharing with suppliers to align on lead times, forecasts, and buying projections. This is part of the growing emphasis on supply chain visibility in modern approaches to supply chain management.
  • Automating processes: Faced with the increasing prevalence of escalations and with major, frequent shifts in demand, planners are under a tremendous amount of pressure. This can lead to inefficiencies in planning as well as high turnover. By automating grunt work and complicated calculations, innovative planning systems help planners manage by exception, addressing issues that require human intervention while letting machines do the heavy lifting and reduce planner workload.



Lucky winner Irene Sy of Cisco joins ToolsGroup’s Mallory Duffy and David Barton at our booth on May 9!

2. Balancing Inventory Remains the Key to Customer Service and Profitability

Although fast expansion remains a priority for some segments (like medical equipment), many of the supply chain executives we spoke to named inventory levels as their main concern.

More companies are looking to develop and adopt inventory strategies that guarantee high service levels while reducing the overall strain of inventory on working capital.

Fortunately, “service-driven planning” is already a proven theory.

It involves reprioritizing service for specific SKUs in specific locations across the supply chain network to find the optimal tradeoff between inventory investments and service levels.

It enables the inventory optimization necessary for lowering inventory while elevating the customer experience.



Sarah Voorhees, VP of Demand and Inventory Planning at American Tire Distributors shares how ToolsGroup helps the company create a triple-win supply chain transformation with suppliers and customers.

3. Consider adopting decision-centric planning.

Decision-centric planning has gained traction in situations where the standard S&OP process is too rigid to handle the real-time decisions that need to be made. Here’s what it involves.

  • Monitoring events. Continuously monitor events to decide when to do a planning run.
  • Assessing event impacts. Start with the basic questions: Is it a strategic or tactical impact? What process needs to be initiated and who needs to be involved?
  • Acting on that assessment to make decisions. Define the thresholds and guidelines for actions. This gives you the largest margin of time for making a decision, which is often better than making decisions too quickly before you can see the full picture.
  • Implementing decision-driven composable processes. This requires breaking S&OP and S&OE into smaller processes and pulling them together as needed to address the issue at hand.

This helps bring in all the necessary parties and information needed for making fast, accurate decisions while remaining flexible and adaptable.


Sarah’s insightful presentation on digital transformation drew 125 attendees.

4. Probabilistic forecasting continues gaining momentum.

Forecast accuracy is foundational for the supply planning process, and we noticed that many supply chain executives are keenly interested in the great advantage probabilistic forecasting has over traditional forecasting methods, especially in continuously turbulent times and rampant disruption.

This AI-driven forecasting method incorporates data from a broader range of sources to generate a range of probable forecast outcomes and calculate the likelihood of each.

This deeper understanding of customer demand translates into a more effective inventory strategy, especially for items with intermittent demand (which often end up comprising the bulk of excess inventory).

Smarter forecasts result in better inventory management (and in turn, happier customers and wider profit margins).

Still new to probabilistic forecasting?

We have made it simple. ToolsGroup was a pioneer in probabilistic forecasting and we built our forecasting and inventory optimization solutions around it. We’ll help you get the basics and see how it can change your business for the better.

Check out the Quick Guide to Probabilistic Forecasting for easy explanations and your first to to smarter forecasts →

Direct from Attendees: Feedback from the Floor of Gartner Symposium 2023

We decided to have a little fun at this year’s conference with our Supply Chain Wheel, which attendees could spin to win a prize!

But we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to also do a little informal research of our own.

Read on to discover our insights and the results of our contest!

ToolsGroup SCM “Spin the Wheel!” Contest Results

We had 124 Gartner attendees spin the Supply Chain wheel, with 12 winning the Bose Bluetooth Sunglasses! That certainly beat our probabilistic forecast prediction (we clearly need to have our tech check the balance on our wheel before our next show)!

We also gave away 112 gift cards for Starbucks and Dunkin’. Maybe driven by regional preferences and/or store availability, but our coffee drinkers had a clear 2/3 Starbucks preference to 1/3 Dunkin’.

The ToolsGroup SCM wheel launched many great discussions around which KPIs attendees were most focused on to improve in 2023.

Even though they could not win a gift, we want to thank the onsite Gartner analysts and associates for also having some fun with our wheel and sharing their thoughts and inputs on key SCM drivers for 2023.



ToolsGroup’s Mark Gallant and Westlake Chemical’s Greg Collins (and his new Bose sunglasses)

Attendee Results: “What is YOUR most important Supply Chain KPI to improve this year?” While we received a broad variety of answers to the question of KPIs, we did record a 76% consensus around just six KPIs.

35% of the respondents picked Increase Service Levels or Increase Customer Satisfaction reflecting one of the top themes at the event, customer-focused supply chains.

Considering this is a major part of the goals of inventory and service levels discussed in our key takeaways, even this micro-survey is an accurate reflection of the current general industry dynamic!

Next up in frequency was Reduce Inventory and Improve Working Capital, reflecting another key theme we heard given today’s economic times a focus on the critical business KPIs.

Rounding out our top 6 was Forecast Accuracy and Agility & Responsiveness, which both are very closely related to our top 2, focus on customers’ themes!

Check out the graph and see where your key goals fall versus our Gartner Symposium SCM wheel participants.

supply-chain-customer goals

supply-chain-customer goals

Wheel Spin Results: Wondering what attendees were spinning?

Most of the results were pretty evenly distributed with just a couple of hot spots. One hotspot was right at the Bose Sunglasses winning slice, which our twelve winners really appreciated!

Two other popular spins were Service Levels and Margins & Profits. These two KPIs were also hot with the attendee goals, so we guess our SCM wheel was telepathic!



We are heading to Barcelona shortly for the EU Gartner Supply Chain Symposium on June 5, and we look forward to seeing how the EU attendees fare with our SCM wheel. Check back mid-June for an update!

Now you’ve got the top Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo takeaways for 2023. Looking for more insights? Don’t stop here.

Get your free Guide to Overcoming Inventory Disruptions to Maximize Service Levels and Profit.

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