Emerging technologies in the supply chain exist at the intersection of risk and value. Companies using these untested tools in their everyday operations may find themselves ahead of the pack when it comes to delivering next-generation efficiency. On the other hand, they may also find it hard to make good use of solutions without established best practices and well-known procedures. Getting aboard a game-changing tech trend early is a potential positive differentiator, while chasing a movement that doesn't take off - or isn't ready yet - may weaken a company's prospects.

Hype and speculation aside, the basic assessment priorities for emerging technology is the same as for established processes. Leaders will have to balance the impact of the new tool against the organization's objectives and needs. If a solution can push logistics departments toward their goals, it's a wise investment. If it can't, managers should pass on it until it's ready for prime time.

Gaining technological courage
Contributing to EBN, Oracle's Jon Chorley recently explained the benefits associated with taking steps into the emerging tech sphere, as well as the elements that go into assessing a company's readiness. He pointed to Gartner reports which indicate each supply chain's internal risk tolerance will dictate whether it's ready to make the leap beyond industry standbys and into more advanced tech tools.

When organizations get the internal go-ahead to adopt brand-new IT solutions, the effects can be felt across departments and roles. Chorley singled out customer experience as an area of differentiation. Organizations with advanced tech tools can get closer to their consumer bases with advanced information visibility and sharing. Shoppers in the digital age are becoming more demanding and raising their expectations. The latest tech can help supply chains move with the lightning speed their audiences value.

Chorley added that many of today's key capabilities, such as global connectivity and real-time responses to issues, are enabled by the presence of emerging tech tools. Internet of things sensors, artificial intelligence algorithms and other value-enhancing tools are not yet fully established but have had an impact across the industry. Playing safe and waiting to adopt these solutions could lead to organizations failing to keep up with competitors.

A businessman stands next to a diagram of arrows.Some companies are ready for the latest IT developments.
Moving forward intelligently
While there's plenty to be gained from pushing into new technological waters, companies have to watch out for emerging risks. Supply Chain Dive reported that the the National Counterintelligence and Security Center found plenty of cybersecurity risk in logistics organizations today, adding that the risk extends from legacy systems to new deployments. While emerging systems aren't the only solutions vulnerable to hacking, they aren't immune, and any new deployment should be made with risk management in mind.

Supply Chain Dive noted that the flow of data coming in from recent tech deployments such as internet of things components could become a source of value for attackers. This information is collected by sensors and stored in the cloud, and if these new tools have been deployed carelessly, they may act as weaknesses in companies' supply chain IT setups. This security risk is yet another variable to consider when making an emerging tech risk analysis calculation.
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