Today’s digital transformation is changing the way businesses operate. Everything from production to storage and logistics is becoming increasingly automated, which means supply chain management (SCM) software is playing an increasingly important role for companies of all sizes. A recent KPMG survey found that 81% of manufacturers are concerned about being left behind by digital competitors . Manufacturers need to adopt new technologies sooner rather than later in order to stay competitive. But with so many different emerging technologies, tools, and solutions available, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Which innovations will have the biggest impact on your business? Where do you invest first? In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the future of SCM and discuss how technology innovation is helping businesses become more agile and efficient while also addressing new challenges like climate change and sustainability.
Human workforce in the digital age
The supply chain workforce is facing a major transformation as a result of digital transformation. Supply chain leaders are increasingly younger, more digitally savvy, and more globally distributed. Many organizations are also seeing an increase in the number of women in leadership positions—including in the supply chain function. These changes reflect important cultural shifts taking place across all industries, including a focus on inclusivity, better workplace flexibility, and a growing emphasis on collaboration and teamwork. On the one hand, the rise of automation and AI will lead to job losses in certain sectors, including SCM. On the other hand, supply chain professionals are increasingly required to operate at a strategic level, partnering with other functions such as marketing and sales to ensure the entire organization is integrated and efficient.
Automated supply chain
In many ways, the “traditional” supply chain is already largely automated. Imagine a scenario in which the retailer you’re buying from uses a sophisticated software program to choose their inventory, plan their order quantities, and determine how much stock to ship to each of their stores. This same software program is also responsible for sending you a message when your order has been fulfilled. Because of this automation, you receive your order very quickly—sometimes within a few days depending on the terms of your contract. All of these activities are automated, which is why the supply chain has become more efficient over the years. But now, companies are taking automation one step further. For example, autonomous vehicles will likely play a huge role in future SCM. Automated vehicles are expected to account for 75% of all goods transported globally by 2050. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to reduce emissions and increase safety in the transportation industry. They can also help alleviate traffic congestion and make the supply chain more efficient.
Blockchain implementation in SCM
While blockchain technology is a relatively new field, it is quickly growing in popularity and adoption among businesses. The technology is expected to be worth $20 billion by 2024 and is already being used by many leading brands. Companies like IBM, HP, and SAP have already developed blockchain solutions, and many industries are exploring how blockchain technology can be used to improve their supply chain. For example, companies in the food and beverage industry are exploring the use of blockchain technology to track the origins of their products. Consumers today are especially concerned about the quality and safety of the food they eat, and blockchain may be able to help food companies meet these demands.
Robotic automation in supply chain management
Robotic automation is another technology that can be used within SCM. It involves the use of autonomous robots to perform tasks that are dangerous, too repetitive, or that require high degrees of precision. This technology is often applied in manufacturing and logistics operations. Robots have been used in these industries for decades, but newer technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing are making them more sophisticated. By 2025, it’s estimated that 15% of manufacturing work will be performed by robots. As more and more industries begin to automate, robotics will play an increasingly important role in supply chain management. Robots can help companies drive down costs and improve efficiency. They are also designed to work 24/7 with little to no downtime. And because they are autonomous, robots are able to respond to change quickly and perform tasks with pinpoint accuracy.
Supply chain analytics
Finally, supply chain analytics is an important tool for businesses as they look to optimize their operations. This type of technology lets companies analyze data and make predictions about what might happen in the future based on what has happened in the past. Supply chain analytics can be used to predict demand, monitor the health of supply chains, and even drive investments. Such insights can help businesses make smarter decisions, identify potential problems, and improve their operations. For example, if a certain type of product is selling particularly well, supply chain analytics may be able to tell you exactly when that product is running low so that you can order more before you sell out.
This article has explored the future of supply chain management. As businesses continue to evolve and digital transformation becomes more prominent, it’s important for supply chain professionals to keep up with the latest technology trends and innovations. This includes investing in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain. It also means exploring different communication channels and investing in the use of data and analytics within supply chain management.
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