From steam engines superseding the horse-drawn carriage to drones replacing delivery trucks, technology has always had a significant impact on supply chains. Today, innovations continue to upend every aspect of our global networks, with the latest technologies acting as a springboard for all-new business processes, models and vital digital transformation.
At its IT Symposium this week, Gartner revealed 10 tech trends and urged company leaders to look beyond cost savings to new forms of operational excellence. The list includes tools that help organizations optimize operations, achieve resilience, gain trust, accelerate response and much more. Here's what Gartner advises:
1. Bolster digital immune systems for less downtime and more security and revenue.
2. Tap into applied observability to use digital information for quick, data-driven decisions.
3. Prioritize artificial intelligence (AI) risk management for greater trust and return on investment.
4. Use industry cloud platforms to merge software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service solutions.
5. Optimize the developer experience and customer value via platform engineering.
6. Achieve simultaneous wireless value realization in terms of leveraging multiple types of technology, including Wi-Fi, mobile device data, low-power services and radio connectivity.
7. Maximize the possibilities that exist in the metaverse — essentially a large-scale digital twin.
8. Make use of superapps (apps that are a conglomeration of multiple smaller apps).
9. Discover applications for continuously learning, adaptive AI.
10. Strengthen platforms that enable organizations to meet sustainability goals.
Of course, we’re already seeing some of these tech trends in action. For instance, many companies are moving deeper into the digital space as they work toward new revenue streams. Last week, I wrote about TikTok expanding into e-commerce to create revenue opportunities for its content creators. And now, Walmart has announced Walmart Creator, a digital platform that allows its own content creators to make promotional videos for Walmart products and earn commissions on related sales. Earlier this year, the retail giant expanded its partnership with Talkshoplive to offer livestream shopping experiences for social shopping. Both moves signal the ever-growing influence of social media for driving demand.
One of Gartner’s trends could be a key to reducing the semiconductor chips shortage: AI. Supply chain analysts point out that advanced data analytics and AI tools can predict a range of unexpected disruptions and improve demand forecasting. Semiconductor distributor Rand Technology uses the tech to connect any customers with a surplus to potential buyers. It also employs advanced analytics to spot trends such as price increases or production change notices and to determine how much buffer stock a buying company might want to secure.
Additionally, with the glaringly apparent effects of climate change, supply chain leaders report increasing motivation to focus on the environmental, social and governance aspects of business. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to publish a rule by January to require publicly traded companies to release detailed disclosures about carbon emissions and climate risk. The ability to offer accurate, detailed reports will require greater investments in sustainability software that can track and report on these effects.
Always more to learn
ASCM offers a plethora of opportunities to keep up with the latest supply chain technologies. Certifications — including the Certified in Planning and Inventory Management; Certified Supply Chain Professional; and Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution designations— give learners critical foundational knowledge in a variety of disciplines. Certificate programs in planning, warehousing and procurement offer participants additional skills to further improve supply chain performance. And, the Supply Chain Learning Link provides ASCM members with exclusive access to a variety of on-demand webinars and training related to emerging trends and topics.
In addition, KPMG, in association with ASCM, has recently launched a global Supply Chain Stability Index. This innovative new tool uses data analytics and machine learning to look at past trends in order to predict future shifts, identify where stresses originate and avoid future fragility. Take a look, and begin trending toward a more resilient supply chain.