In a period where tech and business strategies are increasingly intertwined, understanding the leading trends in new technology in supply chain management and logistics is critical for CPG companies striving for resilience and growth.
It is certainly top of mind for digital and IT professionals: According to a Gartner survey last fall, 73% of supply chain IT budgets in 2023 were on average expected to be allocated to growth and performance enhancements.
What are the 8 key emerging trends in technology related to the supply chain?
Gartner has identified eight top supply chain technology trends that it expects to receive the bulk of investments.
“The last three years of uncertainty have blurred the line between business and technology strategies to the point that they must be considered together,” said Simon Jacobson, VP analyst in Gartner’s supply chain practice, in a statement. “Supply chain leaders must have an understanding of the strategic, disruptive, and unavoidable technologies that will impact their planning processes over the next five years.”
The top supply chain technology trends include:
- Actionable AI
- Smart Operations
- Mobile Asset Optimization
- Industry Cloud Platforms
- Employee Engagement
- Composable Application Architecture
- Cyber Resilient Supply Chains
- Supply Chain Integration Services
Whirlpool is one such consumer goods company that’s focusing more heavily on composability. The company modernized its e-commerce architecture to usher in one that’s scalable and flexible. This drove online revenue through an enhanced online customer experience and efficient management of global sales operations in order to meet the new consumer demands of today.
“Consumer expectations are a lot higher now in terms of speed of delivery,” says Murat Genc, Whirlpool global data, technology & transformation officer. “That requires a different supply chain, a different consumer service that we needed to upgrade in our supply chain capabilities in our infrastructure.”
What emerging technologies are likely to impact global supply chains?
When it comes to new technology in supply chain management, there are a number of emerging technologies expected to have particular ramifications across supply chains, and for CPG companies, they can be found in various states of maturity. Among them:
Artificial intelligence: AI can proactively alleviate supply chain disruption through its ability to quickly gather and analyze data, improve efficiencies, and make recommendations to proactively address challenges. Consumer products companies are tapping into AI-enabled technologies for everything from demand forecasting to pricing optimization to labor management. This technology is also expected to play an important role in helping companies advance their sustainability goals.
Digital twins: Serving as virtual replications of systems, processes, physical goods, or customers, digital twins enable companies to foresee global supply chain disturbances. In the consumer goods supply chain, they are especially valued for their ability to identify disruptions, thus mitigating risk.
Robotic process automation: Similar to AI, RPA is removing mundane tasks, creating massive workplace efficiencies, and, at the same time, providing deep, actionable insights from massive troves of supply chain data, notes Dustin Verdin, Zipline executive director of business innovation at Zipline.
Blockchain: While it may not be the salvation some might have once hoped for, a range of consumer goods companies are nonetheless exploring blockchain in supply chain to enhance transparency and traceability.
IoT: “Having complete real-time visibility of goods and materials, from source to production to warehouse to shelf, allows for greater planning and optimization of production scheduling and output, inventory management, and much faster issue resolution,” says Verdin.
What are the latest technological trends in supply chain management?
The disruptions over the last three years have highlighted how many organizational functions rely upon supply chain data, says Tom Gregorchik, VP of industry strategy at FourKites. “While the steady flow of inventory before the pandemic was almost taken for granted by customer-facing teams and business functions, the need for precision has demanded better access to supply chain data by new functions.”
Tapping into visibility tools enable different user personas to see relevant information about their supply chain for more proactive management, usually at the order level, he notes. “When a customer query comes in about a delivery or if there is a production need is approaching, being able to view the supply chain at the order level, which can often be spread across multiple loads, can help detect issues faster and improve the customer experience — all without needing to involve the logistics team which is typically focused on broader-viewed projects.”