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ASCM Insights

3 Tech Trends Broadening Supply Chain Horizons

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In the news this week are three fascinating trends advancing supply chains and addressing some of the key challenges they face. These stories highlight the essential role of technology in improving procurement processes, maximizing digital to promote collaboration and using 5G drones to literally extend the limits of what’s possible.

First, Amazon Business recently launched a free Buy Local feature to help procurement professionals identify sellers on a city level in order to reduce lead times and transportation costs. Users can even filter the results to find eco-friendly options and access analytics for further buying insights. Amazon hopes the feature will help companies roll out purchasing policies that give preference to local businesses.

A recent Amazon Business survey found that 90% of procurement executives say investing in local communities is one of their procurement goals. However, it can be challenging for large companies to shift to local suppliers. The new feature is helping: After the initial rollout in the United Kingdom, participating customers switched 40% of their Amazon Business procurement budgets to local partners. Interestingly, health care customers in particular increased their local spend by 20%.

Next, digital transformation is driving a new on-demand warehousing strategy from Omnichannel logistics provider Flexe. The model rents out industrial storage space to short-term clients, helping the owner of the space make money off of an unused asset and giving the customer the temporary space they need. As unpredictable demand patterns require companies around the world to expand and contract their warehousing space, short-term warehousing rentals can make a lot of sense.

Experts do note that this often means working in relatively close quarters with a competitor, depending on who the landlord and tenant may be. Before digital transformation, this would be nearly impossible to justify. Today, it’s just an efficient use of space.

Third, for improved safety and inspections, UScellular is taking 5G connectivity to new heights. In partnership with Ericsson, the company developed a drone equipped with a 5G smartphone and radio-frequency-measurement equipment in order to better understand what’s needed to operate 5G-connected drones.

According to UScellular, 5G drones will be able to share images and data faster and more safely. Potential applications include unmanned inspections of towers, building tops and barns, silos, and other places that are difficult to reach for a human. 5G’s low-latency connectivity also will make it possible for drones to livestream what’s being captured, enabling them to fly outside the pilot’s line of sight.  

The very best supply chain learning experience
Amazon, Flexe and UScellular will all be presenting at the ASCM CONNECT Annual Conference in Chicago, September 18-20. In fact, when I look at our roster of presenters and Innovation Lab hosts, I see so many organizations that are impelling supply chain forward in the most interesting ways. Don’t miss this opportunity to discover the latest modern innovations in synchronized planning, dynamic fulfillment, Industry 5.0, intelligent supply, sustainability and so much more. Register today.

Get the latest supply chain trends and topics from trusted industry experts at the ASCM CONNECT Annual Conference, September 18-20, 2022. Attendees can explore supply chain innovations from forward-thinking companies in the Innovation Labs — a new immersive experience. Plus, educational sessions "Solve for the Talent “Sansdemic” with an AI-First Strategy" and "6 Stages of Digital Transformation" will offer realistic perspectives about what is likely to impact your supply chain in the future. Learn more.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted at abe@ascm.org.

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