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Trends shaping supply chain management of the future

Posted on July 28, 2016 10:00 am;

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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

Professional (CSCP).


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