- Now, a successful business can pinpoint the growing tendencies and predict the dynamics of the changing needs ahead of time.
- The flexibility of a new system allows businesses to adjust, redirect resources, and eliminate delays and losses.
- Digital supply chain transformation can ensure a smooth transition into the future while also protecting businesses from further supply chain crises.
by Alexey Shalimov
We live in a highly interconnected world where one incident can trigger a whole chain of events that affect most areas of our lives. Manufacturers and consumers have been experiencing this ever since the global pandemic — the panic, hoarding, and fear of a financial crisis caused the global supply chain crisis. The mass lockdowns and growing demand for goods, like electronics and medications, caused a complete collapse of infrastructure.
Continued Setbacks for Businesses
In the U.S., online sales reached the highest level in 14 years, leaving many companies running out of stock in mere weeks. Six months into the crisis, 36 percent of small businesses reported delays from their suppliers due to setbacks in manufacturing. They lacked flexibility in their supply chain management strategies, which did not help them foresee such a drastic change in ordering habits.
Although things have gotten better, we are not completely out of the weeds yet. The current economic turbulence and the political world chaos during the still ongoing pandemic have not made it any easier for businesses. The Ukraine-Russia war, Brexit, rising shipping prices and chip shortage do not help the situation. The latter caused the delay in production and increased demand on the market. All of this combined with staff shortage, too, lead to an even bigger crisis in 2023.
Fortunately, digital transformation in the supply chain can resolve most of the current manufacturing challenges. Such technology will help manufacturers create an agile and scalable supply chain that can resist sudden demand changes and adjust to growing market expectations.
We will dive into how the optimized supply chain can enhance process management and customer experience by utilizing new technologies and global opportunities.
What is Digital Transformation in the Supply Chain?
The supply chain is a systematic process of delivering goods to consumers. The digital supply chain transformation aims at creating smooth delivery, a faster pace of operations, and an easy tracking method. Here are some ways it achieves those goals:
- Leveraged analytics
- State-of-the-art inventory management
- Product condition monitoring via beacons and IoT sensors
- GPS vehicle tracking during delivery
These and other new technologies allow manufacturers to optimize supplier selection, automate stock counts, mitigate risks, and create predictive analytics within the company and economy as a whole. All these advances can enhance the consumer experience while simplifying business chain management processes.
A modernized system places customers at the center of the operation while ensuring fast and accurate interactions. In addition, a newer system will help manufacturers improve their delivery and operations as they can count on digital analysis, including main challenges, growing needs, and customer demands. Now, a successful business can pinpoint the growing tendencies and predict the dynamics of the changing needs ahead of time.
The downside is the challenging process of starting a supply chain transformation in large companies. Integrating this system will require serious managerial and digital changes, yet, despite a few obstacles on the way, most companies eventually choose to transform their systems. The faster this process occurs, the more advantages the company will have over its competitors. Overall, it will help with improving supply chain efficiency, creating easier handling processes, and smoother performances.
The Impact of Technology on Supply Chain Management
New technologies have made way for a revolution in supply chain management. The new approach allows transparent and fully automated processes that enhance your flexibility when demand becomes more unpredictable with each day. Let us analyze the top five benefits of digital transformation happening right now:
1. Process Automation
First, modern management technologies aim to simplify work processes on all operational levels. Thus, supply chain employees can redirect their energy and time to more valuable tasks while their digital system takes care of simpler, repetitive times. As a result, businesses win by improving their quality control and other customer services.
2. Organizational Flexibility
Meeting the needs of the clients has never been so easy. The flexibility of a new system allows businesses to adjust, redirect resources, and eliminate delays and losses. Thus, the system helps make changes when the business is slow or overflown with orders. In addition, technology makes strategies to facilitate operations under several scenarios.
3. Better Decision-Making
Most modern systems come with supply chain artificial intelligence. This feature can help businesses collect valuable data, enhance their workflow, and make well-calculated, data-driven decisions whenever changes are needed. Additionally, an AI chatbot is an indispensable tool which can find optimal responses to customers’ requests.
4. End-to-End Customer Engagement
All customers value transparency and direct communication when dealing with suppliers. Supply chain digital transformation can provide customers with better experiences by granting more control over the interactions. Thus, businesses can offer track-and-trace systems to keep clients informed and updated about their orders.
Innovative technologies can help businesses stand out and modernize their work processes in a variety of ways. After all, markets and customers shift and evolve at a rapid speed. New business approaches and fast responses provided by digital supply chain technology will help companies maintain and improve their positions.
How Supply Chain Capabilities & Technologies Have Evolved
Each technology has to respond to world changes, and the supply chain is no exception. As the market becomes more overcrowded, the demand for online shopping and goods purchases grows. As customer expectations get higher each day, manufacturers have no choice but to adapt. Here are the five ways modern supply chain capacities have evolved over the past decades:
1. The Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT supply chain management ensures a consistent, secure, and reliable operation. Modern tracking technology allows suppliers to monitor their goods in transport and make interventions when needed. In addition, the Internet of things in the supply chain analyzes situations and prevents issues from happening before they even occur. Hence, such abilities may increase the company’s revenue, reduce waste, and ensure safe and successful shipping of their products.
2. 5G and Starlink
The impact of 5G on supply chains is hard to overestimate. In brief, faster internet means better connections and less time for processing. The 5G supply chain will be able to drastically enhance production and shipping performance as well as increase the overall speed of the supply chain. 5G networks use cloud technology for operating, which is why such a system makes the supply chain more efficient and reliable.
Starlink offers a promising future for internet connection. Such technology can reach distant, unconnected regions, bringing fast networks and, thus, manufacturing expansion into new places.
3. Blockchain for Supply Chains
Keeping records of all the assets and transactions becomes easier and more secure with each technological upgrade. Blockchain supply chain management reduces manual processes to their minimum while providing a safe and reliable way of encrypting and validating transactions. Overall, blockchain technology in the supply chain gives users private access to track their orders in real-time.
4. AI and Machine Learning
Smart manufacturing is the way of the future, allowing businesses to rebuild their management system with a heavy reliance on Artificial Intelligence. Currently, the AI supply chain can deliver higher results in accuracy, speed, and overall performance. Machine learning in the supply chain helps analyze work processes, formulate the best strategies for any scenario, and ultimately shape demand forecasts and avert crises.
5. Automation and Robots
The IoT and AI technologies mentioned above are already changing the manufacturing world. With these advances, businesses can utilize more robots and automation processes, such as automated trucking, drone delivery, and automated storage. The robotics supply chain will lead to streamlining operations with fewer to no errors or unnecessary actions.
The benefits of smart manufacturing are undeniable. The world is shifting and changing every day, and so should businesses. Digital supply chain transformation can ensure a smooth transition into the future while also protecting businesses from further supply chain crises. Its automation strategies partnered with technological advances can easily prevent any potential problem in the upcoming years while enhancing one’s stand on the global market.
Alexey Shalimov is the CEO of Eastern Peak, as well as a founder and technology evangelist at Ubertesters.