The new year is rapidly approaching and as 2015 comes to a close, many industry leaders are beginning to formulate predictions for 2016. As with every year, new trends have emerged, better technology has been created and different techniques constructed. These developments ring especially true in the world of supply chains. Many trends that began in 2015 will gain traction coming into the New Year. Let's take a look at four predictions for supply chains in 2016.
1. Sustainability and transparency overrule spend management decisions: If there was one thing we covered a lot this year it was definitely the push toward sustainability in supply chains. Countless companies have made new commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating forced labor and creating more eco-friendly products. From Coca-Cola to Nestle all the way down to McDonald's, the trend toward transparency and sustainability was born in 2015. The push for these environmentally friendly practices will go the extra mile in 2016. Cost efficiency will no longer be the top motivator for supply chain managers, explained Forbes contributor Paul Martyn. Modern consumers want more than low prices, they want to ensure safe and responsibly sourced purchases.
"Companies will finally realize that sustainable procurement means more than compliance and reporting," noted CEO and co-founder of EcoVadis Pierre-Francois Thaler, according to Martyn. "In increasing numbers, consumers will align with brands that offer quality products and make the world a better place. The organizations that best integrate sustainability into their systems and processes will experience a direct correlation to sales and brand reputation in 2016."
2. Increased consolidation of business and consumer apps: Supply Chain Digital contributor Jess Shanahan sees multipurpose technology becoming a major player in 2016. In a world where there is essentially an app for everything, consolidation is the way of the future. In the past, business and consumer technology have generally existed in separate spheres. However, with functions that can benefit both ends of the spectrum app designers will stop replicating and start integrating.
3. Predictive analytics and machine-learning will be major players: Big data provides companies with key benefits regarding consumer information and supply chain trends. Yet it is quickly being surpassed by predictive analytics and machine-learning technology.
"In 2016 we will see that bigger data doesn't make us smarter unless we couple the intelligence with problem-specific techniques that enable effective decision making," said CEO of BravoSolution Jim Wetekamp, according to Martyn. "Many people are still telling us that having all the data in one place is the goal. In reality, it's just a step in the journey."
High-level analytics software paired with machine learning can help supply chain leaders predict future results and make effective changes in supply chain functions. Whether answering questions of strategic sourcing or optimization of processes, these tools will help supply chains thrive in 2016.
4. Corporate card acceptance set to streamline processes: There are so many different ways to pay and the majority of the new technologies have just started making headway in 2016. From ApplePay to Venmo all the way down to Google Wallet, the world of purchasing goods has changed and suppliers will need to change with it, noted Martyn.
"The benefits associated with card acceptance will push more suppliers to accept this payment method, as buyers will take their business to those that do. In 2016, card acceptance will no longer be an AP-only issue. It will have a direct impact on customer retention," explained Vice President of North American corporate credit card products at BMO Financial Group Steve Pedersen, reported Martyn.
EMV technology has moved liability over to suppliers and merchants. This shift will ultimately lead to a mass acceptance of cards by suppliers which in turn will lead to more efficiency throughout supply chains, argued Pedersen.