Supply chain tech adoption: Move quickly, start with small projects
There is no doubt that technology adoption can change a company's trajectory. In the supply chain, climbing aboard the latest IT trend can deliver impactful results such as increasing visibility, delivering accurate insights and bolstering overall efficiency. However, use of new solutions is far from universal. Companies have to find ways to change their ingrained systems without suffering short-term breakdowns in productivity. Furthermore, leaders may be concerned about pursuing trends that fail to reach their potential.

This uncertainty about how to proceed has put companies in a difficult place. Firms that don't make progress are in danger of falling behind more ambitious competitors, meaning they'll have to overcome the challenges and become more tech-savvy. The next few years may prove critical, with analytics and other data-based systems becoming ready for widespread use and new trends such as blockchain use following close behind. Developing focused approaches to IT advancement may set some companies apart from the pack.

Start small but don't delay
Supply Chain Dive recently reported from the MODEX 2018 industry convention, where MHI executives presented the data from their annual survey of technology adoption rates and views in the supply chain. Considering the feedback from respondents, a likely path to IT success became clear: Organizations tend to derive value from their investments over time, rather than seeing immediate windfalls. This means they should start the journey to next-generation solutions as quickly as possible.

The MHI report urged leaders outside of finance departments to work with their chief financial officers to evaluate the latest technologies, mapping out the ways new investments could benefit organizations. The analysis of potential results should be carried out on a grand scale, but the actual adoption projects can start small. Picking initial deployments that are easy to complete and implement can help supply chain executives prove the potential of their latest interests, leading to approval to follow through with company-wide changes.

The primary observed challenges surrounding digital initiatives are proving financial viability, assembling the right personnel and ensuring trust and security for advanced digital networks. Companies that can find strategic ways to overcome these issues may find themselves ahead of the competition, ready to face the digital future.

An employee works with data on multiple screens.Supply chain technology - and roles realted to it - are changing.
Big data has almost arrived
When thinking about technologies that are nearly at their peak value, big data is a top choice. Analyzing large amounts of information is a universally useful skill, and firms that have changed their systems to accommodate new decision-making processes may already be feeling the benefits. Ajilon Vice President Larry Basely, contributing to Manufacturing Business Technology, specified that using analytics has the potential to change the way logistics professionals work, and that they should be prepared to take on new roles.

The new skills needed to make the most of big data are very different than present approaches, but Basely took pains to point out that this doesn't mean employing the technology is going to cause departments to cut their number of personnel. In fact, he predicted a future that will need more people manning the supply chain. They'll simply be working on new types of projects, enabled by tech's latest changes.
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