Sustainability. 3D printing. Robotics and automation. Mobile and wearable computing. Big data. Predictive analytics. Sensors and The Internet of Things.
There is no shortage of trends shaping the future supply chain. However, if we zero in on developments with a more immediate impact on supply chain management, the list becomes more compact.
Here are three supply chain trends few industry professionals will be able to escape in 2015:
The omni-channel revolution: Six out of 10 supply chain professionals surveyed by Deloitte and MHI in a 2014 industry report named omni-channel fulfillment as either very strategically important or moderately important. The importance of effective omni-channel fulfillment will only continue to grow in the B2C as well as B2B spheres. Consumer demand for next-day or even same-day delivery will fuel a need for investments in innovative material handling equipment and recast warehousing in more ways than one. While the need for technological upgrades increases, so do concerns about cost reduction.
As TotalTrax’s CEO Frank Cavallaro pointed out in a piece on EBN Online: “Although commonly considered a retail phenomenon, a study by the Peerless Research Group shows distributors and manufacturers across the board are grappling with the increasingly complex nature of filling orders coming in from multiple channels, as well as delivering those same orders in the most efficient manner.”
Power of analytics: Although the Deloitte survey found supply chain professionals rank the power of analytics among the top emerging trends, a Deloitte principal still maintains it is an “untapped opportunity” for many organizations. The manufacturing sector alone could realize a margin improvement of 2 to 4 percent by applying more analysis to existing data. And applied to inventory management, advanced analytics can help companies reduce inventory by 20 to 30 percent. We can, however, expect the application of analytics to rapidly move beyond the infant stage; several recent studies indicate executives believe they will lose their market position in the next two to three years unless they adopt big data analytics.
Talent shortage: The much talked about supply chain talent gap will continue to challenge the industry in 2015. High turnover rates of supply chain leaders coupled with few adequately prepared job seekers will force supply chain companies to double down on education, training, and employee retention. Some speculate the skills gap is so significant that it will require the rebranding of the entire supply chain industry. Will 2015 be the year when supply chain companies rethink their recruiting materials and talking points?