Supply chain management is a complex, yet delicate balancing act of many moving pieces and partners. Many companies are leveraging the benefits inherent in using modern software and technology tools to streamline operations and plan for current and future consumer demand. And, as a result, the landscape of modern supply chain management is changing.
As 2019 approaches, these seven trends are positioned to help shape supply chain management. Staying abreast of these trends will help your supply chain function as efficiently as possible, while keeping a close watch on differentiating tactics you can leverage to stay competitive.
1. Sustainability Shifts Continue
Sustainable business practices are an overarching trend being embraced by all types of companies, but this trend is especially applicable in supply chain management. Many businesses are exploring alternative energy sources (such as high-power storage, fast-charging batteries and hydrogen) to manage high cost areas of the supply chain, such as transportation. In tandem, supply chain leaders are also focusing on waste prevention and continually looking for ways to ensure efferent operations while reducing waste.
2. Efficiency Remains a Key Focus
An efficient supply chain is vital to the success of any product-driven business. However, the advanced software tools available for supply chain management are giving companies insight into the ways they can maximize all aspects of their supply chains, by storing and analyzing all the key components in a centralized database. Using such software tools can be a distinct advantage for companies to streamline and even automate certain operations to support optimal efficiency and profits.
3. Delivery Demands Perfection
Consumers are savvier than ever before, thanks to all the information they have at their fingertips online, and as a result, their expectations are very high for not only product quality and customer service, but also delivery. Customers now expect their purchases to arrive on time, and in shorter and shorter delivery windows, which is causing companies to explore what must occur along their supply chains for near perfect delivery times.
4. Supply Chains Go Social
Social media is now interwoven into fabric of business, and rightly so. Social media is where many consumers tend to spend the bulk of their time online, and social platforms are also where customers tend to voice their product opinions most openly. Social media integrations on supply chain management software solutions can help you gain insights into your consumers by studying their behavior and feedback, which can be used to predict demand and plan new product launches with success.
5. AI Makes a Move to the Mainstream
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been steadily filtering into the mainstream over the past year, and supply chain leaders are already particularly interested in this technology as a key way to study consumer behavior and buying patterns. This type of insight can help companies determine the demand of existing products in the market and identify trends that uncover what kinds of things consumers desire, but aren’t yet being offered, in a suite of products. AI is certainly a technology trend to watch closely, particularly because it’s applications are so broad in supply chain management, from demand forecasting to strategic planning and decision-making.
6. Advanced Analytics Come to the Forefront
Business technology improves every year, and 2019 will certainly be no exception when it comes to supply chain management. One of the key ways that technology is improving rapidly is in advanced (but accessible) analytics. Such analytics help you shift your supply chain focus from reactive to proactive, with reporting tools to help you identify trends, spot issues early on, and perform both prescriptive and predictive analyses.
7. IoT Drives Standardization of Supply Chains
There are currently more internet-connected devices and systems than ever before, and this trend is only expected to continue. What this means for supply chain management is centralized connections with all touchpoints in the chain, from suppliers and distributors to shipment carriers. Because so many supply chains are adopting software systems to streamline their operations (for the first time) standardization of supply chain processes is on the horizon.
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