Trends shaping supply chain management of the future
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By Rebecca Langdon
The supply chain as we know it is set to undergo a period of substantial change in the coming years.
Supply Chain Managers should see this as an opportunity rather than a threat, as in fact the trends are
set to make this function even more exciting to work in. We will look at a few of these break through
Automation and Artificial Intelligence
Are robots coming? In all seriousness automation is nothing new but it is becoming increasingly
sophisticated and removes the manual burden on humans. It is also widely known that artificial
intelligence shall take a greater role in the supply chain process in years to come. Yet, what about the
products that are being processed by it? We may take self-driven cars as an example to provide food for
thought about how automation will shape logistics and manufacturing for that matter. It seems
conceivable in the not so distant future that human intervention in the supply chain will reduce vastly as
machines pick the goods, load onto self-driven vehicles, and so on.
The advent of such sophisticated technology will definitely change the way in which supply chain
managers perform their roles and it will increasingly have a strategic technological focus.
Shifting geographic and economic landscapes
There are many ongoing changes globally which will impact the way in which supply chains are set up.
For example economic growth in Asia may begin to preclude it from being a low cost manufacturer of
choice in years to come as labor and other costs increase as a result of economies developing. Also,
ongoing instability in the Middle East has the prospect of driving significant shifts in oil and mineral
supplies. Therefore, we could see a seismic shift in the transport of goods within the supply chain due to
new transport routes, new regional purchasing power, and new and more difficult strategic challenges.
Globalization is a continuing force and the result for supply chains is that they are expected to have
global reach. For supply chain managers, this means managing logistics into a multitude of countries,
with all of the nuances which that produces:
- Local logistics firms
- Local taxes
- Different legal jurisdictions
- Different cultures and customs
- Customers with varying expectations
Products and communications will need to be tailored to customers regardless of where they are
located globally. This in my opinion elevates the role of the supply chain manager.
In summary, these developments are significant and could be advantageous to business if considered at
an early stage and planned for. It is an extremely interesting time to work within the industry. If you are
interested in becoming professionally qualified, perhaps consider undertaking the Certified Supply Chain