The Supply Chain Industry’s Changing, Are You Keeping Up?
It’s no secret that the world is changing at an unprecedented pace, and supply chain professionals are scrambling to keep up. The trends affecting the global marketplace are having an impact on an industry that has relied for years on a very tangible regimen of pickups and drop-offs. As technology continues to shape the world, supply chain executives must keep pace with the trends and incorporate them into daily processes to keep their companies competitive in the new, dynamic environment.
Concepts supply chain executives can leverage:
Machine Learning (ML) & Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Technology isn’t only becoming more widespread, the technology itself is getting better. Have you ever thought about the ads you see on your social media? If not, consider whether the ads appear catered directly to you, odds are a machine has learned your likes and dislikes. Technology now has the ability to ‘learn’ from accumulated data to predict future actions, like your shopping habits. This is particularly important for supply chains which can leverage predictive learning and AI to estimate unloading times, carrier performance, traffic delays, and more.
The Internet of Things (IoT) – The web of everyday objects connected to the internet is becoming more and more commonplace. Wearables (think FitBit) are everywhere, Dash Buttons let us order more detergent when we run low and even our homes are “smart,” letting us control the thermostat from anywhere with the touch of a button. This concept is rapidly being adopted by supply chains. Prominent among them is the ELD Mandate, a federal mandate requiring all trucks to monitor driving time to be compliant with hours of service (HoS) laws. RFID tags are being used more frequently too, letting supply chain professionals digitally track individual containers, pallets or even products.
Blockchain – Bitcoin is the largest example of a company using blockchain, but this concept isn’t only reserved for transferring money over the internet. Broken down into its simplest form, blockchain is a digital ledger that can be used to exchange, track transactions, make payments and sign contracts. It’s highly transparent, extremely efficient and scalable in nature. This new method of exchange is reshaping globalized trade, making it easier to interact with companies and customers abroad. Supply chains can use blockchain to keep better track of their products, deal in foreign currencies without the need of an intermediary and store better data for record keeping.
What do all of these concepts have in common?
Each one of these concepts is rooted in connecting people and processes together more efficiently via technology. All three make it easier for companies to access their customers, forge useful relationships and scale their businesses. One result of employing these connectivity strategies is a Network Effect where “more usage of the product by any user increases the product’s value for other users” (Evergreen). Each layer of connectivity serves to support the other users, building customer loyalty and adding value to the organization. For supply chain professionals, this can mean providing better customer service, having better on time delivery rates and streamlining tracking and tracing processes.
Supply chain offices deserve their own network to build upon, one where they can find the latest technology to improve their operations and keep up with market trends. The Kuebix Global Logistics Community is serving just that purpose. As a collaborative group of shippers and carriers from around the world, members work together to discover opportunities, foster cost reductions and build trusted-partner relationships.