22 Supply Chain Pros Reveal the Biggest Trends in Supply Chain Management (Through 2020 & Beyond)

The modern supply chain is incredibly complex, yet it continues to advance at a rapid pace. New technologies are constantly emerging that boost warehouse efficiency, improve inventory management, streamline shipping and transportation, and enhance virtually every facet of the supply chain.

From warehouse automation to advances in asset identification, there are many trends impacting supply chain management today – and even more that are poised to transform supply chain management in the coming years, through 2020 and beyond. To find out what today’s supply chain managers see as the most influential trends of today and tomorrow, we reached out to a panel of supply chain professionals and asked them to answer this question:

“What are the current trends in supply chain management and where is SCM heading through 2020 and beyond?”

Meet Our Panel of Supply Chain Management Pros:

Read on to learn what our experts had to say about the biggest trends in supply chain management and what to expect through 2020 and beyond.


Faith KubickiFaith Kubicki

@Intellichief

Faith Kubicki is the Content Marketing Manager for IntelliChief. She covers the latest insights in digital transformation & enterprise automation.

“Technology is behind most of the advances in supply chain management…”

Especially those that we’ll see more and more companies adopting in the next 2-3 years. The core aspects of supply chain management are more likely than not going to remain the same. That’s because there are certain processes that just can’t be eliminated, like creating purchase orders and paying invoices. But we’re expecting to see more and more companies use technology to automate the more time-consuming steps in the process. Computers have become more and more effective at identifying data, classifying documents, and communicating behind the scenes with other applications. We’re seeing that trend continue with more advanced (and accurate) OCR programs and invoicing solutions.

We’re also seeing analytics playing a larger role in high-level supply chain management decisions. Companies have an all-time-high level of access to data that spans every facet of their supply chain. That includes real-time inventory information, customer credit information, DSO data, and more. While we’re projecting automation to reduce the number of employees that are needed for manual data entry, we’re expecting to see the number of strategic roles increase in response.


Austin HigginsAustin Higgins

@austin_higgins

Austin Higgins is a technology consultant, university lecturer and speaker. He works with Fortune 100, middle market and growth companies to lead the design, build and launch of technology products.

“Blockchain and distributed ledger technology have the ability to transform supply chain in the coming years…”

Companies will have the ability to track every stage of their supply chain in real-time with data that is indisputable. Executives will have instant access to clear, concise data about every component, product or asset throughout the entire supply chain. The possibilities for insight into operational data and relevant decision making are near endless.


Jayneel PatelJayneel Patel

@jayneel
@Orderhive

Jayneel Patel is Managing Director and Co-Founder at Orderhive, an inventory management software.

“The year 2018 has brought in new trends for the supply chain industry and is completely changing the dynamics for the future…”

The current trends in supply chain management signal a need to utilize the huge amount of data generated on a daily basis to make better and more informed business decisions.

With more and more people preferring to shop online than going to brick and mortar stores, there is a growing need to provide an effortless shopping experience to them. Inventory management depends to a great extent on the platform where the majority of the buying and selling is taking place. As omnichannel shopping experience will continue its pace to blur the lines between online and offline stores, there will be certain inventory management trends that will require closer inspection.

In 2018, we will continue to see a new way of thinking in inventory management and across the supply chain.

The following trends in inventory management will dominate 2018 and beyond:

1. Cloud Services & IoT

No doubt inventory is the most valuable resource for a retailer. Yet the biggest challenge that retailers face is not being able to see the movement of stock in real-time. And inventory should be at the right place at the right time. In such a situation, the IoT can be a savior for in terms of efficient inventory management.

The Internet of Things turns things into smart objects or machines. These sensors or devices are connected to the internet or each other to collect and transmit data.

This information can become Big Data when it is combined with information from other sources, analytics of which can be used to device useful inferences and insights. IoT is seeping deep into inventory management operations like warehousing, shipping, retail stores, etc., helping businesses not only react when they occur but predict and fix them beforehand.

Real-time inventory visibility & tracking is always a big challenge and a definite area to be perfected and updated over time. A system that has all data in one place, which is accessible to you in real-time and highly secured, is the right way out for major inventory issues. Cloud applications are hence replacing the on-premise applications that are highly prone to errors and eat away a huge resource cost. Cloud computing refers to storing and accessing data & programs over the Internet instead of the computer’s hard drive. The ‘cloud’ is a metaphor for the Internet. While large-sized enterprises can afford a private cloud, subscription-based cloud models are a to-go-for thing for small and emerging businesses.

2. Data Analytics

The most emerging trend in inventory management is the use of big data and analytics.

Data analytics can come in handy with regard to demand forecasting. The wealth of data gathered from historical data, past purchases can provide in-depth insight into consumer buying behavior, maintaining stock levels, avoiding overstocking or stock-out situations.

3. Hybrid Shipping and Hybrid Warehousing

If you are in the e-commerce or retail business, you would know that warehouse management is a crucial part and an obvious cost center. You also must have often come across the term dropshipping. Dropshipping is an order fulfillment method that allows businesses to sell without owning the inventory. Instead of purchasing and storing the inventory in a warehouse, you partner with a third party, usually a wholesaler, distributor, or manufacturer to fulfill orders directly to your customer. While another model is the traditional warehousing and shipping.

We see a growing trend of sellers adopting a hybrid approach where you can hold part of your inventory and get the rest of it drop-shipped. This approach lets your customer reach grow multi-fold with you being able to offer a plethora of products, reduce your warehouse costs, and generate less or no headache. What is to be warehoused or drop-shipped is a tricky plan and needs good market understanding. But going hybrid can save a significant amount of money that is wasted in understocking and overstocking. More and more sellers will be adopting this system, so that they store less, sell more.

4. Blockchain for Smart Contracts

Blockchain technology has made a name for itself in every type of industry. Its applications are limitless, and it has a huge potential to revolutionize the way inventory contracts could be managed.

Smart contracts enable companies to automate payment transfer once the requirements of the contract have been fulfilled. For example, if a contract exists between a drop-shipper and a retailer that once the latter’s stock for a particular item reaches 2 units, then the drop-shipper has to transfer 3 more units to the retailer. As soon as the drop shipper sends the required number of units, his payment will automatically get transferred. Blockchain reduces any kind of manual error as it completely eliminates human intervention. This could prove to be highly beneficial in inventory liquidation by foregoing the manual payment process and parties automatically receiving payments.

5. RFID Uprising

More and more businesses are now going for RFID devices that allow them to accurately track down products and their specifications in their facility quicker. Handheld devices that emit corresponding signals will connect with the chip to retrieve location, quantity or other related stock. This is critical because overstocking can cause items (particularly perishable products) to go bad, and under stocking can result in delayed shipping times and lost customers. Not just that, stock security can be assured, and any theft can be tracked. The coming year will see extensive use of RFID across business types and sizes.

All the trends represented in this list endeavor to make supply chain and inventory management industry more transparent. Adopting these trends could help to improve your business and scale it to greater heights.


Dennis AyoDennis Ayo

@TriPartners

Dennis Ayo is the Executive VP responsible for Strategy and Business Development at Triage Partners. Based in Tampa, FL, Triage Partners is a leading Technology Enabled Service Provider and serves multiple Fortune 500 companies.

“One of the biggest challenges facing companies today is managing product returns…”

Due to consumer expectations and liberal returns policies by various online retailers, companies across multiple industries have trouble processing returns and determining each product’s ability to be resold, repaired, or scrapped.

With the growth of the Internet of Things devices, technology companies can expect to see an increase in returns into the 2020s. According to the Reverse Logistics Association, 2017 customer returns in the US totaled $450B, 9% of US Retail. Cisco predicts there will be over 25 billion connected devices by 2025 per Cisco VNI Global IP Traffic Forecast, 2016–2021, creating an ever growing need to prepare for the inevitable – Returns.

Despite the impacts on companies’ bottom line, returns logistics are expected to receive the least amount of investment within the Supply Chain. At the same time, “work on the process without investing in technology” was the most common response for Returns (see chart below)

Triage Partners has developed a unique model to help companies process returns in a timely, cost-effective manner.

Triage will deploy its proprietary cloud-based software system WipIT™ and specific resources anywhere and at any scale within our customer’s infrastructure to rapidly receive, screen/test, make a deposition based on customer work instructions and policies and kit or prepare for resale, further repair or properly depose of the product. Triage offers the solution with our employees or will license our Software as a Service (SaaS) if our customer prefers to utilize their own employees. Triage’s WipIT™ is easy to modify for each customer returns process and is cloud based so very simple to deploy.

Triage has deployed our solution with some of the most complex companies in the US and is critical to assisting them in maintain maximum product value.


Steven BelliSteven Belli

@GetSavings

Belli has managed companies and consulted for over 25 years. As Source One, a Corcentric Company’s SVP of Strategic Sourcing, Belli has served as a uniquely client-facing leader. Belli works directly with Source One’s clients to explore their supply management challenges and offer innovative, impactful solutions. Working with his executive team, he assists in the strategic planning for client initiatives and ensures they receive adequate resources to achieve the best possible results and drive their Procurement function forward.

“Some of the biggest trends in supply chain management include…”

1. What About Generation X? 
It sometimes seems like millennial talent is all supply chain professionals want to talk about. Though they’ve drawn blame for killing various industries, they often look like the answer to Procurement and SCM’s lingering talent questions. It’s not hard to see why. This generation is tech-savvy, collaborative, and tirelessly dedicated to innovation.

For all their unique capabilities, however, millennials are sorely lacking when it comes to experience. As veterans retire and upstarts enter the workforce, it’s up to professionals between the ages of 35 and 50 to bridge the talent gap. I expect Generation X to step up in a big way within leading organizations. Millennials will represent half of America’s workforce by 2020. Their success – and the success of their organizations – will depend on how well the other half engages and empowers them.

2. More Audits for International Supply Chains
The last few years have been anything but ‘business as usual’ for Supply Chain Managers. Geopolitical tensions and cybersecurity threats confront organizations with new levels of risk and volatility. Companies that operate international supply chains need to pay closer attention than ever to what’s going on abroad.

No one wants to experience what happened to Rip Curl. In 2016, the sports apparel company discovered they had unwittingly procured goods from North Korea. Without warning, one of their Chinese suppliers outsourced labor to the controversial nation. Though they wore a Made in China label, these goods were produced by North Korean slave labor. That’s just one example. Porous national borders and inconsistent policing can affect any organization. It’s up to Supply Chain Management to seek out trustworthy suppliers and improve its visibility into their operations.

3. Supply Chain Managers Become Reputation Managers
Today’s customers look for organizations that set a good example. They’re committed to supporting businesses that hold themselves, their employees, and their supply chain partners to high moral and ethical standards. The visibility provided by the Internet and social media mean they can dig into their preferred brands’ practices with little effort. If they happen upon unethical, immoral, or illegal activity, it’s equally easy for them to disseminate this information.


George SchildgeGeorge Schildge

@gschildge

George Schildge, CEO at Matrix Marketing Group, works with startups to enterprise businesses to help them develop processes to get predictable, scalable revenue growth. George spent 25 years working in the ERP, PLM and SCM industry. His experience includes working at IBM, Sun Microsystems, CoCreate Software, Baan Business Systems, and Loronix.

“Most supply chains are complex and lack transparency…”

Depending on the industry or product, the supply chain can span over hundreds of stages, multiple geographical (international) locations, a multitude of invoices and payments, have several individuals and entities involved, and extend over months of time.

There are several significant changes to the supply chain in just about every industry from how things are built, paid for, monitored, and sold. The most significant impact is artificial intelligence and blockchain.

I’m going to discuss blockchain. Blockchain is a distributed, digital ledger and has many applications in the supply chain. It can be used for any exchange, agreements/contracts, tracking and payment. With every transaction recorded on a block and across multiple copies of the ledger that are distributed over many nodes (computers), it is transparent. Blockchain secure since every block is linked typically in a sequence. Blockchain is more efficient and scalable than the traditional methods. Blockchain can increase the efficiency and transparency of supply chains and positively impact everything from warehousing to delivery to payment.

Enterprise and startups see blockchain-enabled supply chain solutions will improve efficiencies and reduce costs for the supply chain industry.

The supply chain and logistics industry are just beginning to join these trends as they begin to see the potential and demand for blockchain-enabled solutions to transform the supply chain and logistics industry.


Jordan MockJordan Mock

@AGTGlobal

Jordan Mock has more than a decade of experience. He started as a driver and now oversees all day-to-day operations at AGT Global Logistics. Mock manages and coordinates the movement of freight and oversees the staff of 20+ employees.

“Unless you’re like Amazon and have your own fulfillment centers…”

Getting raw materials to the endpoints can take multiple steps, through several channels, entailing copious amounts of paperwork. Although the concept remains steady, the process itself is constantly changing.

Having a solid 3PL provider is more important now than ever. With e-commerce shipping and fulfillment expected to continue increasing by 40% through 2020 and beyond, how items are transported and returned requires knowledge of more than just shipment modes and storage locations.

The current trend is to be on-demand, always. The consumer expects items to be processed immediately after hitting the order button. This means that your supply chain needs to be pre-determined, ready to deliver and able to adapt to changes if needed.

In today’s uncertain world of trade and commerce fluctuation, a 3PL company helps alleviate the stresses of getting your product to the consumer. In addition to the process, today’s supply chain management requires constant communication, customer and vendor relations and the ability to make quick decisions because of weather, policy changes, and human and natural disasters. Third-party logistics companies – like AGT Global Logistics – will become more important in the future as the public expects their goods without error. We keep our clients’ worlds turning so consumers are happy and we are planning for expanding our capabilities through 2020 and beyond.


Jeff StollmanJeff Stollman

Jeff Stollman is a technologist with 20 years of experience designing systems to identify and track people and products. His work includes integrating unique labeling schemes to authentic OEM products and designing blockchain-based tracking solutions for a number of industries. He has four patents pending in the area of blockchain technology, including supply-chain tracking.

“The biggest trend in supply-chain management (SCM) is…”

Blockchain. I suspect it won’t really shake things up until after 2020 though.

Blockchain offers the supply chain the following benefits:

  1. Provenance. Ability of anyone in the chain to determine the provenance of an item.
  2. Anti-counterfeiting. Ability to detect the sources of counterfeit and sub-standard items in the supply chain before they reach the consumer.
  3. Brand protection. Ability of brand names that outsource manufacturing to validate the compliance of their sources with fair labor practices, environmental regulations, worker health and safety to protect the brand’s reputation. (This requires the existence of a trusted third party who can
    certify compliance. But, once certified, brand names will have immutable evidence that they did their part to assure compliance.)
  4. Quality. In conjunction with IoT environmental sensors, the history of a product can be tracked in shipping to determine if it is no longer viable because of excursions of temperature, humidity, etc. while in transit.

The reason that these won’t be available for a while is twofold. First, some technical hurdles exist with respect to confidentiality and scalability. But solutions for these exist. Second, a significant investment of time needs to be made in governance rules for various industry blockchains to ensure that they protect confidential information, have the ability to approve SW updates (to address bugs as well as new services), and fairly represent all parties involved in the blockchain solution.


Ian KhanIan Khan

@IanKhanFuturist

Ian Khan is a CNN featured futurist, author, three-time TEDx speaker and filmmaker of BlockchainCity.

“The supply chain industry is about to be heavily affected with emerging technology, in particular blockchain…”

Current trends indicate that efficiency of operations, managing transactions, and smart contracts will pave the way for the industry to move towards a higher level of trust and automation. The payments side of things will significantly improve with smart contracts (based on blockchain) that will drive efficiency throughout the chain. One of the challenges however is to see mainstream adoption and development of solutions that have been tested, proven and adaptable. By 2020 some key developments include the government of Dubai implementing blockchain technology to manage all transactions at a government level. This is the first such major implementation of blockchain to affect many industries including supply chain. Other countries and industries are expected to follow suit soon after.


Nina PinedaNina Pineda

@podm2m

Nina Pineda is a consultant for PodM2M, a mobile connectivity solutions provider for M2M and the IoT.

“Transparency will increase in all stages of the supply chain due to new and upcoming IoT technologies…”

We’re predicting that more and more platforms and sensors will be developed to track not only the location and arrival of deliveries but also the conditions such as temperature and humidity. This increase in transparency will in turn improve the delivery systems and the quality of the products.


Khris BhattanKhris Bhattan

@RTG_solutions

As the President of RTG Solutions Group, Khris K. Bhattan’s passion and success lies in leading teams that solve problems, eliminate waste, reduce costs and increase efficiencies. Khris is the impetus to change as he identifies, develops, trains and implements systems that ensure organizations’ success in a competitive marketplace.

“Some of the current trends include…”

An increased focus on integrating CRM tools into existing or newly implemented ERP Systems in businesses across many industries including Healthcare, Manufacturing Operations and Retail. Another trend in SCM includes the Internet of Things (IoT) as it relates to Supply Chain. It is critical to have full transparency to everything in the Supply Chain including Asset Tracking, Vendor Relations, Forecasting, Inventory Control and Transportation and Logistics in addition to Total Quality Maintenance (TQM). The implementation of this type of technology will be foundational in developing platforms that support other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI).


Garry CooperGarry Cooper

@RheaplyInc

Dr. Garry Cooper is the CEO/Co-founder of Rheaply, Inc., a resource marketplace for professionals to easily exchange surplus supplies and collaborate with others in their field of research. Rheaply’s mission is to make research better, doing so by enabling more sustainable scientific discoveries without the need for more funding. Garry received his PhD in Neuroscience from Northwestern in 2014 and went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship through Feinberg Medical School. He also serves as an adjunct Assistant Professor at Northwestern University.

“We believe the next step for supply chain management and for asset tracking in general is to…”

Turn the process for procurement into an omnichannel experience and a shared economy. A typical two-sided marketplace is limited because it doesn’t bring visibility and granularity into the reasoning behind the need for assets/resources. We see SCM in 2020 as a true network of exchanges and circular economy.

Our company, Rheaply, is addressing the lack of resources in R&D facilities and the rising cost of doing research (the ‘resource gap’). We accomplish this with asset tracking system that allows researchers around the nation share, collaborate, and optimize their resources and ideas. Essentially, we bring the circular economy to research. We think this strategy is a harbinger of the future for SCM, one that can both promote social connection and reduce the environmental impact on the communities where products are made.


Tom WilkersonTom Wilkerson

@ForkLiftCertify

Tom Wilkerson is the CEO of ForkliftCertification.com, a national leader in online, OSHA-compliant forklift certification. Tom and his employees have helped thousands of companies discover the easy way to self-certify their forklift operators in-house.

“Due to a rise in e-commerce sales, warehouses are having to change rapidly…”

They are becoming more automated in order to improve speed and efficiency. Use of semi-automated order pickers is increasing to improve the picking process and reduce operator fatigue. Forklifts and pallet jacks are increasing in demand to take over manual tasks. Robotic arms are making item-picking easier. Lastly, demand for trained operators to fill job openings is increasing due to automation opening the door to more products available online.


Sender ShamissSender Shamiss

@gotrgcom

Sender Shamiss is Founder and CEO of goTRG, a leader in the implementation and execution of multi-channel sales and supply chain business solutions and SaaS.

“Implementing automated solutions aimed at delivering scalable, transparent, and data-driven insights is trending in supply chain management right now…”

This automation can deliver more efficient results in the space of sorting, fulfillment, warehouse management, resource planning, and real-time reporting all from one dynamic interface. The future of supply chain management will see a rise in AI and robotics. Automated forklifts, robotic pickers, and specialty conveyors will increase efficiency and decrease needed facility space for significant bottom line increases.


Michelle KliegerMichelle Klieger

@MichelleKlieger

Michelle Klieger is the founder of Stratagerm Consulting, LLC. A strategic planning consulting firm. We specialized in guiding companies through the complex process of managing tariffs and exploring new market possibilities.

“The global supply chain is more interconnected because of…”

Decades of increasing global trade; however, the trade tide is changing. New free trade agreements are declining, instead, new protectionist trade policies are increasing. The United States and the United Kingdom, historically leaders in promoting free trade, are now toppling the world order they helped to create. This trend will likely continue into the 2020s.

These changes cause massive supply chain disruptions as new tariffs and counter-tariffs are levied. Unexpected new tariffs force companies to make last-second decisions to reroute goods to other ports in other countries. Accurate traceability of goods ensures that products reach their new destinations. Better supply chain management procedures make this agility possible. Companies implementing these practices have tools at their disposal to help them adapt. This competitive advantage will lead to more SCM investment by companies looking to limit their exposure.

In the long-term, supply chains will adapt to the new taxes associated with moving goods. Some chains will shorten. Others will change by shifting manufacturing to a different country of origin. Businesses that understand their supply chain and can make on-demand changes will be more successful in this volatile environment. Improving tracking and traceability provides companies with the information they need to make the best decisions.


Brian C. NeuwirthBrian C. Neuwirth

@UNEX

Brian C. Neuwirth is the VP of Sales & Marketing at UNEX Manufacturing

“Supply chains need to agile and flexible in 2020…”

Agile manufacturers are best positioned to anticipate, address, and adapt quickly to market challenges in ways that help them gain and keep the competitive advantage. For example, when customization is high in an assembly operation, storing additional SKUs in the assembly area means pickers don’t have to travel to find the right part, saving time and effort and improving accuracy. Implementing this specialized, yet flexible, solution accomplishes more than simply reducing search time: It significantly improves daily output, reduces labor costs, reduces pick errors, and speeds fulfillment. In times of fast growth, it’s sometimes hard to focus on operations at the granular level, and it’s easy to underestimate how incremental changes can lead to important gains in productivity. For manufacturers facing the challenges that come with growth, it pays to keep a close eye on ways to improve speed and agility.


Austin PowerAustin Power

@AMEVertical

Austin Power is the Vice President of AME Companies Industrial Division. Austin brings over 20 years’ experience in complex sales management and integrated systems design when he joined AME in 2017. His project experience draws from a broad range of automation technologies in the distribution, warehousing and manufacturing markets.

“The biggest current trend is mobile robotics for goods to person and operator assisted picking…”

Providing flexible machines that can help humans in the warehouse perform a variety of tasks. Receiving, put-away, picking, and trailer loading are examples. Labor shortages and extended shifts continue to affect SCM operations coupled with more rapid delivery in ecommerce and decreased order cycle times. These are the headwinds that we as an industry will have to navigate into 2020 and beyond.


Bang ChauBang Chau

@InnovitMDM

Bang Chau is the co-founder and VP of Business Development at Innovit.

“Supply chain automation is all about improving the efficiency of fulfillment logistics…”

From manufacturer to distributor to retailer and finally to buyer – by removing human intervention and human error across the entire physical supply chain. To this extent, technology developments like EDI, RFID, barcode scanning, and robotics have helped to reduce the manual handling of orders, invoices, ASN and stock issues/receipts. However, all of these transactional systems depend on accurate, up-to-date, and ‘reliable’ master data in order to deliver the enormous operational efficiencies they were designed to achieve. In most cases, these SCM systems accelerate the processing of transactions by many hundreds of times per hour.

In contrast, if master data about products and locations is missing or wrong, then these systems will simply accelerate garbage-in-, garbage-out at the speed of light. Any attribute of data, when it is inaccurate, can lead to thousands of errors – be it dimensions, weights, volumes, UOM, contents, Ti-Hi, bill_to, or Ship_to. That is, instead of saving people time, these SCM systems end up wasting human time and effort which is required to fix the errors, or to reverse thousands of transactions. At the extreme, some transactions cannot even be fixed or ‘undone’ once a truck load of products leaves its pick-up location (such as delivering a wrong product that is perishable).

Before EDI and SCM were commonplace, manual fulfillment processes at least offered one benefit – there was the knowledge and experience of human operators to review each transaction document at the fax machine, or at their desk. If an error existed in an order, invoice, ASN, or SSCC, these errors may have been detected by the human operator and corrected before a shipment leaves the factory gate. In today’s digital world, these transaction documents are transmitted at lightning speed. By the time anyone realizes that there is an error caused by bad master data, thousands of transactions may have already been executed based on this bad data – all of which need to be manually corrected/reversed. This is the worst nightmare of process automation – when technology actually works against you by multiplying inefficiency at the speed of light.

With clean, accurate master data that can be trusted, SCM systems can be supercharged to deliver the efficiencies they were designed for. Investing in Master Data Management is a critical success factor, and should be the prerequisite, to embarking on any supply chain improvement project.


Joe KrauseJoe Krause

@jkrause3

Joe Krause is the Director of Professional Services at AchieveIt. Joe is responsible for empowering AchieveIt clients to execute their plans. With a consultative strategic planning background, Joe has worked with clients to execute thousands of strategic, operational, and project plans. Joe is passionate about helping teams drive toward successful business outcomes with a focus on practical, easy-to-apply advice.

“The trend in supply chain management we’re seeing right now is alignment…”

Supply chain leaders are focusing on making sure their initiatives and KPIs roll up to enterprise goals. This is helping them streamline their efforts, while also drawing a direct connection to how SCM is impacting organization-wide results.

For example, if you’re having an issue with cash conversion cycle time, there are a bunch of different Band-Aid fixes, but leaders who have the best success adjusting CCC are spending more time choosing the right initiatives. By drawing a line from action to outcome, and tracking the execution of the project in between, supply chain management professionals are able to select initiatives that are actually moving the needle.

In terms of trends, there’s also an element of SCM that’s become more debilitating the longer it’s absent – quantitative data. It’s one thing to look at spreadsheets full of data all day, but without the context of how and why projects are tracking the way they are, leaders can’t make the information actionable. Metrics within the story of the project are needed to make better, more agile decisions, so teams can be strategic and not just busy.

As we move closer to 2020 and beyond, supply chain will need to kick the old spreadsheet habit. Executives need to digitize their execution activities in an easy-access platform that keeps data current without all the manual reporting time. Only with more up-to-date information and at-a-glance dashboards can organizations evade the extreme competitive pressure they’ll experience in the years to come.


Sam BayerSam Bayer

@sambayer

Sam Bayer is the Co-founder and CEO of Corevist, Inc., the world’s only end-to-end B2B ecommerce platform that’s fully integrated to SAP. Through teaching, publishing, and lecturing, Sam has built an expert reputation in the B2B community. He is an avid photographer, family man, and yoga enthusiast.

“Expect digital transformation to play an increasingly powerful role in SCM…”

As complex organizations unify their data ecosystems, technologies such as ecommerce, which are new to B2B, will provide actionable data for demand forecasting across varying digital channels. SCM professionals need to understand these new data sources and how to interpret them.


Emmanuel DarkoEmmanuel Darko

@etdarko

Emmanuel Darko is a blockchain technology entrepreneur and an advocate for the adoption and use of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). An ex-banker who has had stints in both commercial and investment banking when he worked with Zenith and Data Banks respectively and he is currently VP at ICO Watchlist.

“For over two decades, the supply chain has enjoyed the honor of being a hot topic in the majority of industries…”

Having previously been managed – and developed – through telecommunications, such orthodox trends are now unable to fend off the current landscape and, therefore, industrialists – and even economists – have realized that there is a necessity to move this entire infrastructure to blockchain and AI-based networks.

Recent surveys have shown that one of the most pressing needs is the maximization of visibility at all levels. Since high-tech companies are driven by insights at every stage of their business, it is critical for them to have complete visibility of their activities and processes. Moreover, it is also mandatory for these organizations to evaluate the performance of their suppliers in order to prioritize them for establishing partnerships; this is why several industries are pursuing AI for efficiency and reliability.

In terms of the consumer product industry, supplier volatility is very much a focal point and one that needs consistent attention. It ensures that segmentation is conducted according to their SOPs and that there is a consistent flow of products through the supply chain, thus allowing the market to grow at a sustainable rate.

So, in order to cater for all of the latest trends in supply chain management, it is critical that industries develop AI and blockchain-based solutions for their existing supply chain management systems, for greater efficiency, visibility, and error-free procedures.


Amjad HussainAmjad Hussain

@AlgomusAi

Amjad Hussain is the CEO of Algo.ai, an Enterprise AI company that has developed the world’s first Supply Chain Analyst Bot. Algo.ai uses Big Data, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence to help retailers, manufacturers, and distributors with accurate Forecasting, Demand Planning, and Inventory Management.

“Artificial Intelligence is one of the most disruptive trends in supply chain management…” 

Enabling the use of trained AI agents to help people with the complex task of forecasting and planning demand on a granular level. The retail landscape is changing rapidly, and customers expect product availability both on the shelf in brick-and-mortar, as well as seamless and fast fulfillment when ordering online. Maintaining the right level of inventory in distributed locations is becoming crucial not just to profitability, but in some cases survival.

It is impossible for humans to process and analyze the data needed to maintain individual forecasts on an item/location/day basis. Recent advancements in Big Data, Machine Learning, and AI make it possible to train virtual agents to work with supply chain professionals to quickly crunch the billions of combinations needed to know precisely how much inventory will be needed in each location at any given time, and speed up and simplify the work required in maintaining an efficient supply chain. This trend will continue to develop towards more automated supply chains, as more companies complete digital transformation and supply chain partners can utilize new technologies such as blockchain to securely share and collaborate with data.

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