The pressure to improve supply chain performance has been mounting on departmental leaders for the past few years. Competition will naturally drive companies to new levels of efficiency and effectiveness, and some organizations within the industry have already begun reinventing themselves through strategic technology additions. As a variety of tech innovations pass from the realm of the theoretical into practical and widespread use, this pattern will only expand. Companies have to plan on their own future direction to keep up.
Investigations into the latest IT trends in the supply chain will have to take many factors into account, including the readiness level of each new solution, the fit for a company's particular needs and the way a fresh deployment will fit in with the other tools used by a particular team. Everything from back-office data management and communications to the physical transportation and storage of goods could radically evolve within a short span of time.
Look for synergistic pairings
Among all the goal-setting and assessments that go into upgrading supply chain technology, the match between the various new and existing systems may not receive enough attention. As Revelationship Inc.'s Scott Koegler pointed out in an article for TechTarget, each supply chain manager will have his or her own unique mix of tech tools. The differences between organizations' setups makes it important for departments to experiment with pilot projects and determine ideal ways to take their operations to the next level.
The value of each individual application isn't a discrete unit that exists out of context. Rather, these solutions are mainly valuable in the ways they intersect. Koegler explained that the true winners in the logistics-upgrade competition will be the organizations that generate unique internal systems based on maximally effective combinations of tools.
It's easy to see where some of today's top tech investments join up. For instance, the advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence solutions that make predictions based on unstructured data won't live up to their potential unless companies have someplace to store that information. Even blockchain technology, one of the most talked-about innovations in supply chain spaces, will require investment in related architecture to reach its true potential.
Companies creating supply chain pilot programs should be guided in their thinking by a few top-level priorities. According to consultant Paul Trudgian, contributing to All Things Supply Chain, visibility and transparency are valuable areas of focus. He pointed to a culture of knowledge and improvement as a major goal for companies of all kinds. These organizations can start their transformation processes with tech deployments designed to illuminate every corner of their operations, then focus future initiatives on eliminating existing weaknesses.
Tech deployment in areas such as data analysis and communication are ways to get companies closer to where they should be in terms of transparency and visibility. Finding the right mixture of such solutions for a particular business is a great way to set that organization up for a profitable future. Highly visible operations are ideal because they set the groundwork for future improvement rather than being an endpoint in logistics evolution.