Supply chains today are in a state of transition. Demand patterns are changing. Key supplier locations are shifting. Technology is evolving more rapidly than ever before. And making sure your end-to-end supply chain management is equipped to keep up has become a looming challenge on every supply chain manager’s mind. Kevin O’Marah, the Chief Content Officer for SCM World, shared his predictions on three megatrends coming to the supply chain industry as the opening keynote presenter at Kinexions, Kinaxis’ annual user and training conference. First on the list was people – changing demographics and population growth. New projections by the United Nations suggest the world’s population may surpass 10 billion by 2100. Asia and Africa will continue to widen the gap as the most populous regions. More people means more demand. Growth in Asia and Africa means shifting logistics and manufacturing locales to make meeting that demand in a speedy and efficient manner possible. O’Marah sees sustainability and accountability as the second megatrend. We’ve already seen evidence of this as large corporations implement open sustainability plans that outline environmental impact. These plans include steps to minimize the impact, as well as how those companies support local and regional economies and the workers who live there. But the biggest and most important megatrend according to O’Marah is digitization. Cisco predicts by 2020 that there could be as many as 50 billion devices, with connected pieces of technology outnumbering the human population. Sentient supply chains are one possible future reality, as a result. While O’Marah doesn’t think we’re headed down the road to The Matrix, or even The Jetsons, he does believe the notion of a sensing, intelligent supply chain could lead to utopia, where humans and technology co-exist in a state of harmony. However, there are risks. Chasing every shiny object could lead your supply chain down a path of instability. Dismissing emerging technology as just hype could leave you stranded decades behind your competitors. Travelling down the path of supply chain digitization means starting with the basics – supply and demand sensing, supply and demand response, and decision making. O’Marah notes these principles are what build on your existing supply chain infrastructure. Demand sensing is knowing with absolute certainty what the customer needs, while supply sensing is total accountability – knowing what’s possible, and what isn’t. Supply response is mass customization, making it happen, and demand response is total satisfaction - You give your customers exactly what they want. Finally, decision making is driving a sustainable business model; One that’s profitable, while keeping those promises to the customer. While the future is still fluid, we’re already seeing shades of all three of O’Marah’s megatrends impacting current supply chain practices. What other trends are you seeing? Let us know in the comments area below.
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