Smart digital supply chain trends to watch

Companies are trying to tackle supply chain challenges by leveraging cutting edge technologies including robotics, edge computing, and artificial intelligence.

The supply chain continues to shift – scrutinizing the future for an industry traditionally filled with turmoil and unplanned events requires thinking out of the box. Companies have risen to the challenge by integrating cutting-edge technologies from new robotics to edge computing to everything related to artificial intelligence. Here are some of the smart digital supply chain trends that are having a significant impact on the industry and what is causing these changes in the first place.

The digital supply chain we are talking about here is powered, facilitated, and transformed by technologies. These technologies include artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud, edge computing, Internet of Things, advanced robotics/bots, and many more. These technologies have reimagined what is possible for the supply chain in the face of changing environmental conditions, global disruptions, and increasingly slim margins, thanks to the demand for customization and flexibility.

Smart digital supply chain refers to a focus on connected data from all sources. Companies use data to drive decision-making, and predictive analytics helps companies avoid costly errors in inventory and operations. In addition, a connected ecosystem of technologies and partners helps ensure resilience despite ongoing disruption.

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This is not the supply chain of the last industrial revolution, not even a decade ago.

What is driving the changes?

It may seem that everything has changed because of Covid-19, but the reality tells a different story. Like a lot of other industries, the supply chain has undergone a digital transformation thanks to the digital age. Covid-19 has only accelerated these changes by creating an ultimatum. Companies that can adapt quickly and act proactively will survive. Those who cannot quickly restructure to meet challenges and continue to respond to disruption will not.

Other changes in the environment that the supply chain serves have also driven digital transformation:

  • Generational expectations have changed: Millennials and Generation Z are getting a lot of heat for business destruction, but they’re just signs of fires. The world long before the internet. Today, companies must provide the transparency needed for consumers to believe in their mission – not just their products. They need to deliver real value to customers who demand more customization and put up with less waiting time.
  • Products and the supply chain itself is more complex: companies may source materials from all over the world to create a product that then becomes a core component of a different product. This has made supply chains a network of complexity with third-party and even fourth-party vendors occupying the space. Globalization presents many opportunities but an equal amount of complexity.
  • Shorter product life cycles: Competition is fierce. One of the solutions is continuous innovation, which reduces the life of the product. Companies have accelerated digital transformation to be able to accurately forecast demand and better control inventory because margins are narrower.

See also: 5 ways analytics disrupts supply chain management

Five trends to watch in the digital supply chain

These are the trends that are occurring in the smart digital supply chain.

Artificial intelligence

To be fair, AI is not a new trend. However, many companies call simple automation tools “AI” when they are not. We are talking about applying self-learning artificial intelligence to aspects of the supply chain that work in collaboration with human operators. The real trend is the exponential expansion of AI applications to do everything from fleet management and optimization to taking advantage of augmented reality for smart robots.

digital twins

Supply chain companies leverage digital twins primarily to “play” with the components that make up their complex ecosystem. The reflected world allows humans to change different inputs and scenarios, and artificial intelligence can predict the outcome based on those changes. This helps companies make better decisions proactively rather than waiting to find out that they are in the midst of turmoil.

Digital literacy and data democratization

Companies that innovate technology have a hard time retaining talent. Companies in traditional industries face a greater challenge in attracting the talent they need to deploy and monitor these technology solutions. Companies can start pushing their general workforce towards more digital literacy as a result. They have begun to deploy technologies that strip the back end and automate many repetitive tasks to ensure that data continues to flow. according to recent study, 19% of companies focus on raising digital skills and rehabilitating existing employees. This number has a strong opportunity to continue growing as more companies realize how valuable this growth is.

Focus on making the decision

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Companies are also using advanced technologies that support humans in making faster, more accurate, and more effective decisions. Constant innovation, shortened product life cycles, and a complex supply chain create conditions that require humans to make more decisions, faster. Decision making techniques will become more common as companies look for ways to take the pressure of tight margins, improve customer experiences, and improve every aspect of the supply chain.

Blockchain

Regardless of the exciting coverage of cryptocurrencies – complex supply chains can help complex supply chains maintain transparency and provide immutable records of regulatory compliance. It can record the evolution of assets, provide consumers with a clear picture of where their products come from, and allow manufacturers to monitor materials despite globalization and increasing complexity.

Transforming supply chains means better outcomes for consumers

The supply chain can be complex, but technology has created solutions to some of the biggest challenges it faces today. After the pandemic turmoil of 2020 and beyond, companies realize that failure to transform digitally will have disastrous effects on their bottom line and survival.

Most companies are willing and willing to invest heavily in technologies that make the supply chain more manageable and more productive. In addition, an increasing number of companies are joining forces to provide the training/retraining needed for their employees to meet today’s smart digital supply chain needs. There’s a lot to watch in the coming years, and change won’t slow down – not with the new normal here to stay.

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