Gartner: Top Supply Chain Technology Trends in 2020

By Sean Galea-Pace
Gartner has established the top eight supply chain technology trends in 2020...

Gartner analysts chose the strategic supply chain technology trends that have a high potential for positive impact on people, performance and industries, with some now reaching vital tipping points in capability and maturity.

“The vast majority of organisations have a cautious approach to adopting supply chain applications and technologies,” said Christian Titze, vice president analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain Practice. “Only 21% are willing to consider, and often adopt, early-stage technologies. However, even cautious supply chain leaders must keep an open mind and embrace long-term perpetual change.”


A framework to mix and match a considerable amount of technologies in the best possible way - such as historic legacy platforms with recently deployed tools and planned investments. Hyperautomation can mean different things for different organisations but it’s important that supply chain leaders find their individual definition. If deployed correctly, hyperautomation can encourage broader collaboration across domains and act as an integrator for disparate and siloed functions. 

Digital Supply Chain Twin (DSCT)

As a digital representation of the physical supply chain, a DSCT is derived from all relevant data across the supply chain and its operating environment. This makes the DSCT for all local and end-to-end decision-making. “DSCTs are part of the digital theme that describes an ever-increasing merger of the digital and physical world,” Mr. Titze added. “Linking both worlds enhances situational awareness and supports decision-making.”

Continuous Intelligence

Continuous Intelligence is one of the biggest opportunities for supply chain leaders to accelerate their organisation’s digital transformation. This leverages a computer’s ability to process data at a much faster pace than people can. Supply chain leaders can look at the other processed data in near real-time and understand what is happening and take immediate action. “There are already several use cases for CI in decision support and decision automation. For example, retailers utilise CI to automatically react to customer behaviors when they shop online. This enables better customer service, more customer satisfaction and tailored offers that lead to higher sales revenue,” Mr. Titze explained.

Supply Chain Governance and Security

“Gartner anticipates a wave of new solutions to emerge for supply chain security and governance, especially in the fields of privacy as well as cyber and data security,” Mr. Titze said. “Think advanced track-and-trace solutions, smart packaging and next-gen RFID and NFC capabilities.”

Edge Computing and Analytics

The rise of edge computing, where data is processed and analysed close to its collection point, coincides with the proliferation of IoT devices. It’s the technology needed when there is a demand for low-latency processing and real-time, automated decision-making. Edge computing is slowly becoming more prominent in the manufacturing industry, with some organisations adopting driverless forklifts for their warehouses.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI in supply chain makes up a toolbox of technology options that help companies understand complex content, engage in natural dialogue with people, accelerate human performance and take over routine tasks.

“AI technology is present in a lot of already existing solutions, but its capabilities evolve on a constant basis,” Mr. Titze added. “Currently, the technology primarily helps supply chain leaders solve long-standing challenges around data silos and governance. Its capabilities allow for more visibility and integration across networks of stakeholders that were previously remote or disparate.” 

5G Networks

5G is regarded as a major step forward in terms of its data speed and processing capabilities. Running a 5G network in a factory can minimise latency and enhance real-time visibility and IoT capabilities. 

Immersive Experience

Immersive experience technology, such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality, has the potential to radically influence the trajectory of supply chain management. Those new interaction models amplify human capabilities. “Companies already see the benefits of immersive experiences in use cases like onboarding new factory workers through immersive on-the-job training in a safe, realistic virtual environment,” Mr. Titze concluded.

For more information, read Gartner’s report “The 2020 Strategic Supply Chain Technology Trends”.


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