If there is, one thing that we can be sure of about 2018 is the year when technology will take a precedence. With advanced hardware, software and connectivity becoming accessible and cost-effective on a global scale, we are experiencing an innovation shift from desiring “better gadgets” to discovering entire new business categories built around technology. Here are some expected supply chain management trends in 2018.
1. Tech innovation will pick up pace at an exponential rate
Be it robots, self-driving vehicles, electric trucks, blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), and new mobile-enabled categories, it is a fact that any supply chain meet in 2018 will be dominated by tech talk, it is hard to say how much of it will really stay and how much would fade away, but 2018 will see supply chain leaders experiment with heavy tech innovation. If companies do not embrace change now, they could find themselves out of the game soon.
2. Perfect order deliveries and sustainable practice to be the leading focus
As per industry experts, 2018 will see Supply Chain managers focus on increasing the percentage of perfect orders with right place, packaging and quantity. Similarly, supply chain executives will also increase focus on sustainable practices, reducing waste and improving efficiency throughout the entire supply chain. With rising awareness and concern about the environment, focusing on sustainability is a smart business move for companies. A 2015 study by Nielsen found that 66% of respondents would pay more for a product or a service if the company were committed to positive social and environmental change. Inevitably, we will see more companies trying to make their supply chains green this year.
3. Flexible Processes and Elastic Systems Will Replace Traditional Supply Chain Management Strategies.
2018 will see a gradual transition to elastic logistics, which includes flexible solutions that allow the logistics infrastructure to meet market fluctuations. This would serve as a safeguard for established companies looking for a way to stay competitive as more startups increase.
4. The continued rise of Data-Driven logistics
Big data has already begun to revolutionize supply chain and will continue to impact and influence operations in 2018. Companies will continue to increasingly utilize big-data algorithms, smart analysts and data-visualization techniques to improve efficiency and shorten delivery times. Supply Chain Management Review predicts that in 2018 companies will begin to utilize geography-specific data to predict and prepare for the demand for a region, enabling them to ship in advance.
5. Supply Chain Management Will Finally Have a Standard Certification Process
With the number of platforms and services available increasing exponentially, SCM continues to evolve with new complexities. While every system is different, this is merging into a single cohesive set of systems that can be integrated through the Internet of Things (IoT). As a result, supply chain management is reaching a point to have a defined standard certification process created. This will help to the curb existing skills gap with encouraging, effective and efficient deployment of new systems and services.
6. Social media will play an important role in Supply Chain Management
Mobile technology is not new to supply chain management but 2018 will see social media accounts and marketing tools play an increasingly crucial role to augment supply chain management effectiveness. Social media will be used as a primary channel to connect with customers on top of traditional online browser or app-based shopping experiences. In conclusion, the state of the global supply chain will evolve dramatically throughout the remainder of 2018. Innovation, adaptability, willingness to change and, recognizing technology as a key player is the path to success and survival in the supply chain management industry.