Gartner: Eight technology trends in supply chain

By Sean Galea-Pace
Supply Chain Digital examines the top eight supply chain technology trends for 2020, according to Gartner...

As supply chain leaders seek to explore the benefits of digitalisation, it has become critical to introduce how to leverage innovative technologies that have the potential to disrupt supply chain operating models that provide a competitive advantage. 

“Gartner research shows that supply chain leaders perceive technology primarily as a competitive advantage — they focus on long-term value,” says Christian Titze, Vice President Analyst, Gartner. “Yet, 80% of organisations favor a cautious approach when it comes to adopting new supply chain applications and technologies.”

1. Hyperautomation

It’s a framework to combine a comprehensive offering of technologies in the best possible way, such as historic legacy platforms with recently deployed tools and planned investments. This means different things for different organisations so 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.

2. Digital supply chain twin

It’s a digital representation of the physical supply chain and is derived from all relevant data across the supply chain and its operating environment. This forms the basis 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 worlds,” Titze says. “Linking both worlds enhances situational awareness and supports decision making.”

3. Continuous Intelligence

It is one of the biggest opportunities for supply chain leaders to accelerate their organisation’s digital transformation. It takes a computer’s ability to process data at a much faster rate than people can. Supply chain leaders can look at the processed data to understand what is happening and take immediate action.

4. Supply chain governance and security

It is an increasingly important macro trend, as global risk events rise and security breaches impact companies on a digital and physical level. “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,” Titze says. “Think advanced track-and-trace solutions, smart packaging, and next-gen RFID and NFC capabilities.”

5. Edge computing and analytics

The rise of edge computing, where data is processed and analysed close to its collection point, coincides with the acceleration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It is the technology needed when there is a demand for low-latency processing and real-time, automated decision-making. Edge computing is currently making its way in the manufacturing space. For example, there are some companies that have leveraged driverless forklifts for their warehouses and some heavy equipment sellers that can use edge computing to analyse when a part needs maintenance or replacement.

6. Artificial intelligence

AI in supply chain makes up a toolbox of technology options that allow companies to understand complex content, engage in natural dialogue with people, enhance human performance and take over routine tasks. AI currently helps supply chain leaders solve long-standing challenges around data silos and governance. Its capabilities enable more visibility and integration across networks of stakeholders that were previously remote or disparate.

7. 5G Networks

In comparison to predecessors, 5G is a major step forward in regard to data speed and processing capabilities. The nature of 5G means that the potential for supply chain is significantly increased. For example, running a 5G network in a factory can reduce latency and accelerate real-time visibility and IoT capabilities. 

8. Immersive experience

Immersive experience technology such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality has the potential to substantially change the trajectory of supply chain management. These new interaction models amplify human capabilities and organisations are already seeing the benefits in use cases, such as onboarding new workers through immersive on-the-job training in a safe, realistic virtual environment.


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