What will Supply Chain Management be like in five years?
Reducing time between order and delivery is the number one aim in Supply Chain Management and with constant evolution of the technology available, super-fast delivery is becoming more and more accessible.
With this in mind, what are the key trends for Supply Chain Management, and what will the landscape be like in five years’ time?
Automation & Artificial Intelligence
When we look to the future of Supply Chain Management, efficiency is high-up the priority list. Presently, processes are regularly repeated (as much as 40%) preventing individuals from focusing their efforts on tasks more specialised to their skillset. As a result, automation and the introduction of artificial intelligence is due to rise in popularity in the future. As with all technological advancements, the price will decrease over time meaning automation and artificial intelligence will be more accessible and widely available. Within larger organisations automation of processes is already common, but in the future it is likely that smaller organisations will also adopt this technology in order to streamline their processes too.
It’s been suggested that the advancements may even help to alleviate the issues of the global labour shortage. If it is possible to automate certain parts of the supply chain, employees will be able to focus their attention elsewhere reducing the need for additional staff.
One key area making the most of these steps forward in innovation is transportation. Large goods vehicles are due a makeover, and it is likely that that autonomous technology will be implemented in the next five years. Additionally, it’s likely that drivers will be able to relinquish some of the control of these vehicles, or potentially spend some periods where they do not need to do anything. In an article published in September 2016, Forbes predicted that autonomous trucks could become reality by 2030. As a consequence, an update in legislation regarding drivers’ hours may be needed; enabling vehicles to keep moving for longer; reducing costs and delivery cycles.
Globalisation & Supply Chain
Globalisation continues to impact on the technological world and Supply Chain Management is no exception. Without Globalisation, organisations would not be able to access new customers, new materials and new workers for manufacturing of product. Without Supply Chain Management and the possibilities it creates, the pace of Globalisation would stall. A careful balancing act, organisations will have to explore the instillation of international procurement managers and teams of people to cope with the growing demands of a globalised market during the next five years. It’s anticipated by 2020, that organisations will have individuals based in locations all over the world to source materials and services, refining their expertise in these territories.
Collaboration & Integration
The next five years will be critical for the evolution of collaboration and integration within Supply Chain Management. Customers want processes to be efficient and as part of achieving this, the ability for different services to integrate and ‘talk to each other’ is important. The level of collaboration can be determined by the organisation , allowing them to include only the data they wish and keeping their own IT platforms isolated.
Over the next five years, there will be an increase in cloud-based services that collate information en-masse, that are protected by authorisation and accessible on a centralised system will emerge. They will allow for data to be shared without a requirement for EDI.
The use of big data to support Supply Chain Management is nothing new, and is likely to continue to be important over the next five years. Drawing on information from sources such as the news, social, events and weather, predictive analytics has added a wealth of value to replenishment planning, inventory deployment and demand management. Predictive analytics is responsible for anticipating fluctuations in demand for stock and amending inventory requirements accordingly. By implementing predictive analytics into Supply Chain Management, companies are able to identify stock issues before they occur. In turn, this allows alternative solutions to be implemented.
Taking things one step further is E-commerce giant, Amazon. At the end of 2013, Amazon were granted a patent for “anticipatory shipping”. Using data as a core element of their business, Amazon will send deliveries to a location near to a customer, prior to an order being placed. By anticipating what the customer may order, the items will be stored in warehouses or on delivery trucks until the payment is made. As a result, delivery times can be dramatically reduced. In addition, the patent also suggests that Amazon may begin to ‘pre-ship’ orders to customers. This may be for things they regularly buy, or something that their data suggests they may like. In particular, loyal customers will find this a valuable asset, rewarding their loyalty with freebies and anticipating their requirements in advance.
The marriage between predictive analytics and Supply Chain Management will continue to flourish. Strengthened by automation reducing the time between order and delivery, the influence of data on Supply Chain Management will continue to mould the sector during the next five years.
What is the future for Supply Chain Management?
The truth is, what is in store for Supply Chain Management during the next five years is difficult to estimate and guess. However, these predictions demonstrate the requirement for faster, easier and more streamlined delivery and as a result, organisations will become more profitable and efficient. Consequently, the consumer will enjoy receipt of goods and services faster than ever before.
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