A new survey found that more companies now view improving their supply chain management systems as not only a way to improve business operations, reduce costs, and gain a competitive edge, but also to drive revenue growth.

The survey, which is detailed in the annual Chief Supply Chain Officer Report and was conducted by SCM World, was released in early October 2012 and involved nearly 1,400 business executives.

Along with driving revenue growth, noted the study, enhanced supply chain management, referred to as "supply chain excellence," can also result in better customer service and stronger supplier relationships.

According to the study, two-thirds of the executives believed operational cost reduction was a "very important" driver for improving supply chain functions; 50 percent stated that increasing revenues and differentiating their customer service from competitors was equally "very important."

"Overall, the study found that the supply chain function, and taking steps to improve it, is a growing concern for businesses worldwide," says Michael Wilson, marketing director with AFFLINK. "Probably even more important, six out of 10 respondents now believe enhanced supply chain excellence is as important to business success as sales, marketing, and R&D development."

Dr. Hau Lee, Chairman of SCM World and co-author of the report, adds the research shows that "more and more companies are using supply chain excellence as a means to create value.  Those companies that still view supply chain management as a support function [in business operations] are missing great opportunities."