Supply pros wary of updated technology but aware of its potential
Moments of transition can be difficult at the highest levels of business. Being too slow to adopt new, technology-aided solutions brings the potential for organizations to fall behind their more daring and forward-thinking peers. However, moving to systems that haven't been vetted or tested sufficiently is a mistake, as department leaders may throw money away on tools that aren't ready for wide adoption or are quickly eclipsed.

This battle between the need to modernize and an inclination toward caution is playing out in procurement organizations around the world. While managers have heard the benefits of the next generation of IT features, including artificial intelligence and blockchain technology, it can be hard to commit to a groundbreaking upgrade.

Survey reveals cautious approach
EPS News reported that a recent JAGGER and Austrian Association for Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Logistics survey of supply chain leaders revealed a split approach to the use of new technology. While these officials see the value of upgrading their systems, they have largely held off on starting a frenzy of adoption. The majority of polled leaders still wouldn't commit to the idea of using blockchain technology as a supply chain communication method, and a mere 10 percent have big data, AI or smart workflows in place.

This slow pace of adoption reflects a cautious mindset and an interest in watching other companies' successes and failures before jumping into the fray. According to the survey, general knowledge about the available technology tools and their value for procurement is on the rise. At the moment, there is an even split between companies that rate their awareness highly and those that don't, with 50 percent of respondents in each camp.

There are a few clear next steps that will lead procurement departments from their current in-between state to competent use of advanced technology. The study concluded that sourcing departments should take pains to be one of the most tech-savvy parts of their respective companies, taking the lead as the businesses digitize. Leaders will have to stay up to date with the latest trends and priorities in enterprise IT and decide which of those will help their operations. This need applies to both new products and updated strategies.

Powerful tech concepts such as AI are close to becoming viable options.Powerful tech concepts such as AI are close to becoming viable options.
AI on the rise
While potential buyers are still holding off on making major tech purchases for supply chain use, the solutions they're considering are making an impact in early deployment. Manufacturing Business Technology contributor Anand Subbiah explained that businesses are starting to see the benefits of AI deployment in their supply chains. Major industrial players such as Coca-Cola have begun to analyze their data, which has improved day-to-day processes from inventory monitoring to predicting future demand for goods and services.
Subbiah explained that widespread return on investment from AI is close and that companies should be anticipating their use of advanced tech in the near future. Even if a solution isn't quite ready for prime time, supply chain leaders can lay the groundwork that will make it easier to upgrade their processes in the years ahead. When modern tech solutions begin to deliver value, well-prepared sourcing departments could open up an efficiency gap with their less advanced competitors, turning anticipation into advantage.
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