- In the near future, the most successful supply chains will feature technology capable of collaboration, Supply Chain Quarterly reported Friday.
- A linear supply chain that previously managed full pallets and complete truckloads will soon be transformed into a grid-based value chain of intersecting points, which evolve into frequent, differentiated shipments.
- Soon, the sensors that power the Internet of Things will lead to increased processing power and enhanced machine learning that generates insight from seemingly unrelated data. Supply chains will have to evolve into ecosystems capable of collaboration in order to benefit from such advancements.
Considering your supply chain as a network rather than a series of links may require a shift in thinking, but it's the most efficient way to enact growth and savings.
The future of supply chains is full connectivity and visibility, but to achieve that a supply chain manager must first be able to conceptualize the chain as an interconnected web, or ecosystem, wherein even the smallest data points are relevant. Whereas in the past, a supply chain manager could only be responsible for their warehouses, transportation rates and supply costs, full chain visibility allows a granularity of data to be used ot unlock further cost-saving opportunities.
In just one example, two SKUs may be sourced from two different suppliers, but sent to a retailer wherein the products — by virtue of being in the same product category — share shelf space. As a result, those two SKUs are constantly interacting and in some ways, affecting the sales of the others. While a supply manager cannot change the product placement, tracking the sales may help eliminate redundant costs in the future: perhaps it turns out one product always sells 90% more than the other one season, and 30% better in the other.
Reaching that level of product data, insight and action is the next-generation supply chain, according to the article. That expansion will result from information exchanged between systems. The increase in data accrued as a result of sensor / IoT input will result in enhanced customer awareness, manageable lean processes, and a symbiotic ecosystem in which one system feeds another.