A friend of mine who dabbled in filmmaking has always been troubled by the decision of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to award the 2004 Best Picture Oscar to Million Dollar Baby
instead of The Aviator
His theory is this: while both are great, enjoyable films, the sheer scale of directing the sweeping biopic of Howard Hughes was more technically demanding than filming a cozier story essentially involving three actors. Given that they both are great, the determining factor should have been the level of difficulty.
What does this have to do with logistics? Well, I just got back from the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference this week in Phoenix. On Wednesday, they held a glitzy dinner banquet where they name the top 25 global supply chains.
It’s a yearly tradition and one that is clearly subjective – which is what makes it fun – but I found the placement of two of the more well-known supply chains interesting. For the sixth straight year, Gartner named Apple as managers of the world’s best supply chain. This year, they tapped Amazon.com as the third best. And that got me to thinking about Million Dollar Baby
and The Aviator
Let’s be clear about this up front – both companies have massive supply chains that are incredibly complex. But there is a crucial difference between the two on the product side. Apple has a dozen or so core products – I don’t think I even need to name them – while Amazon has hundreds of millions, including all of Apple’s products.
Again, saying which one is better is a subjective question, just as comparing Million Dollar Baby
and The Aviator
is ultimately a question of artistic merit, not technical complexity.
Apple may have a more straightforward supply chain – build its own products, and ship them to its stores and other channels. Amazon, meanwhile, has to coordinate the movement of all those millions of products, some through its growing list of third party sellers, others through its network of dozens of distribution centers in North America alone. You could even make the case that Amazon is essentially a supply chain company that operates as a retailer, not the other way around.
Does Apple manage its supply chain better than Amazon manages its own? I’m in no position to say, that’s for certain. But on the surface, the sheer complexity of Amazon’s activities would seem to trump the more straightforward nature of Apple’s.
Some people like Million Dollar Baby
, and some like The Aviator
. But the key is, most film fans like both. At the top of the table, the differences are minute, and all you can really say is that both are excellent at what they do. - Eric Johnson