Top 10: Supply chain predictions for 2022

By Sean Ashcroft
'Small data', more digital transformation, AI-driven ESG initiatives and better staff retention are among supply chain experts' predictions for 2022

Supply chain digital transformation predictions

We’ll see a dramatic move to digital self-service for customers. Existing manual processes can’t support the self-service shopping experiences more customers now expect, and this trend isn’t slowing down. Customers will increasingly use self-service tools, and we’ll see improvements to such tools, because they keep the customer’s experience front and centre
Oliver Lemanski, CEO of OnProcess, a service supply chain company

‘Small Data’ will help companies deliver on core objectives – efficiency, risk mitigation, cost reduction, and more. Big Data got all the attention a few years ago, but the value of smaller, AI-driven data insights is now in the spotlight. Embedding such intelligence in tech platforms has a big impact on confident decision making, because people are responding to specific needs and situations. 
Amen Reghimi, product VP, Jaggaer

Supply chain ESG predictions

Companies will attach more importance to ESG and sustainability. We will see businesses begin to drill down into carbon data,  and change processes based on what they observe. Instead of disposing of products at the end of their lifecycle, more companies will look to increase product life cycles, not only as a way to cut environmental  damage caused by unmanaged product disposal. But also as a means to build deeper resilience into supply chains.
Oliver Lemanski

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives will continue to be a corporate priority in 2022. As organizations increasingly lean on supply chain and procurement functions to become more responsible, companies will tap AI-led tech to better process ESG, and meet sustainability goals.
Amen Reghimi

Advanced tech will help procurement teams find sustainable supply partners, fueling buying decisions that are both responsible and cost-effective. These tools can also identify supply chain risk, predict carbon footprints of alternative supply options, and more. Investing in and leveraging this type of strategic intelligence will only become more critical as companies’ ESG performance captures investor and market attention.
Amen Reghimi

Logistics predictions

The disruptions of recent times means customers’ supply chain requirements are more challenging than ever. Companies can no longer rely on historical data to predict demand, and therefore supply, so there’ll be increased reliance on real-time insights and visibility for products in transit. Businesses will incorporate AI and machine learning to support predictive analytics and IoT device monitoring.  
Chris Mills, UK head of supply chain specialist, CH Robinson,

Supply chain management predictions

In a market where so many companies have adopted some form of digital path, retailers will realise that to succeed, they’ll need to focus on customers’ needs. It’s one thing ensuring transportation and distribution systems are modernised and efficient, but more than ever customers are purchasing goods across multiple channels. 
Brands will ensure they have a solid omnichannel sales strategy that delivers a strong customer experience and leads to loyal, repeat customers. Retailers using cloud technology across the supply chain - including transport and distribution - in order to to optimise customer service are on the fast track to success in this area.
Alex MacPherson, account management director, Manhattan Associates

Recruiting and retaining good people is tough right now. Everyone is looking to transform their supply chain, and this is having a big draw on the market. No organisation can improve with tools and platforms alone - they need the right people to set up and configure those systems. Tech firms in particular are losing skilled staff, and throwing money at the problem doesn’t work; a higher salary isn’t enough; working conditions are now the differentiator. Employees want an attractive work culture, benefits and a good work-life balance, plus a feeling of belonging. 
Tim Morley, director, tech research and advisory firm, ISG

Micro-fulfilments will enhance the efficiency of supply chains. Given the continued lack of warehouse labour, coupled with the drive for sustainability, we may see a transition to local supply chain-sourcing through micro-fulfilments. These can lead to a faster fulfilment service by taking advantage of already existing space, or vacant space, due to the pandemic. Micro-fulfilment as a strategy is also easily adopted by smaller suppliers, given the low barrier to entry.
Anton du Preez, EMEA chief sales officer, Körber Supply Chain Solutions

SMEs will prioritise sustainable financing and demand more from their buyers and banks. SMEs will turn to loans that can be paid back in line with their balance sheets, as well as looking for buyers with preferable payment times.
Paul Christensen, CEO of supplier-payment fintech specialist, Previse

Procurement predictions

We’ll see a new way of supply chain financing (SCF) as companies adapt to new SCF disclosure requirements. Large corporates seek to eliminate the need for ‘promise to pay’. Technology will also be used to tackle the thorny issue of late and slow payments. Machine Learning will help suppliers get paid instantly, thus aiding the recovery of global supply chains.
Paul Christensen

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