June 2021 saw Gartner release, what they identified as, the top 8 supply chain technology themes in 2021. According to the global research and advisory firm, analysts selected the themes for transformational potential, and their ability to foster operational resiliency across business functions, technology, and service delivery.
Read press release directly with Gartner.com: Gartner Identifies the Top Supply Chain Technology Themes in 2021
Gartner: Hyperautomation describes the combination of technologies such as machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) that can facilitate or automate tasks that originally required some form of human judgment or action.
Our take: A key enabler of automation in this digital age has been the rapid development of computing power and the democratization of that power. The calculation and processing of massive amounts of data can be done today using advanced algorithms on scales previously unknown, and they are continuously evolving and improving.
When it comes to tools of choice within supply chains, the ease-of-use and versatility of spreadsheets have traditionally made them a favorite. Yet, they are only capable of basic automation and incapable of reaching ‘hyperautomation’ levels to adequately (and safely) replace manual decision-making. Learn more of our thoughts on this in previous white paper 5 reasons why replacing spreadsheets can improve your supply chain.
Digital Supply Chain Twin (DSCT)
Gartner: The DSCT is a digital representation of the physical supply chain. It is the basis for local and end-to-end (E2E) decision-making for the supply chain.
Our take: Industry 4.0 has seen the rise of the Digital Twin and allows manufacturers to monitor digital replicas of assets used in production processes to create global visibility. While Digital Twins have predominantly prevailed on the production side of supply chains, advancements are making good headway on the transportation side and we expect to see this trend accelerate.
Learn more of how we introduced Digital Twins to CargoValue in 2021.
Immersive Experience and Applications
Gartner: Immersive experience reimagines the user experience by enabling users to perceive and interact with the virtual world. Head-mounted displays (HMDs), wearables, smart glasses, 5G, and even smartphones or tablets.
Our take: While we see this as an exciting domain to monitor and explore, in the context of our work, we see many supply chain executives lacking foundational levels of visibility. According to our 2020-21 survey of more than over 250 professionals representing different areas of the supply chain, many are still seeking to improve data transparency and access to real-time information as the first steps.
To get to the desired target, a step-wise approach that focuses on value creation at each step is our first recommendation as the guiding principle.
Gartner: Edge ecosystems consist of edge computing and edge data processing applications. Edge ecosystems allow supply chain technology leaders to reassign and replan large swaths of data processing capacity to the edges of enterprises, where things and people produce or make decisions.
Our take: Within our experience, we see digital ecosystems as an exciting domain for companies seeking the next level of digitalization. We see truly connected and real-time supply chains will spur new business models and enable new degrees of resiliency and responsiveness.
Visionary leaders will establish digital ecosystems where data is fed from multiple sources and generates key insights into all areas of the supply chain. For those seeking to further improve transparency and building digital ecosystems together with customers, suppliers, and other 3rd parties, controlled collaboration is key to data sharing and creating new value in customer relations.
Supply Chain Security
Gartner: Supply chain security brings together a more comprehensive approach to embrace security risks such as counterfeits or cybercrime holistically across the E2E supply chain.
Our take: Security is, and should be, a paramount consideration when investing in any supply chain solution. Applied with Software as a Service (SaaS) tools, we’ve seen a common misconception among companies that data is safer when hosted by their IT-department on-site and secured by their own firewalls and IT specialists. However, the risk of targeted breach, human error or malpractice remains high.
Experienced SaaS vendors often host their data with reputable and experienced hosting providers that have their own data security experts and have strict data security policies in order to prevent leaks.
Environmental Social Governance (ESG)
Gartner: Global supply chains have a pivotal role to play in their contribution to both map and assess ESG risks and opportunities. Current technologies allow to track the origins of products, such as palm oil or soy and align with corporate biodiversity and climate change goals.
Our take: We see this critical element of supply chains going forward. When it comes to decarbonization, so-called ‘Scope 3’ emissions, or indirect emissions, are often the largest emissions category for many companies and holds massive potential for them to increase their decarbonization efforts. While we wait for IMO to step-up, we see customers are primarily driving the agenda. The front-runners are those employing data transparency and insights to make smarter decisions and take ownership of their own contributions.
Learn more of our thoughts and actions in our recent webinars with decarbonization specialists ZeroLab by Klaveness below.
Embedded AI and Analytics
Gartner: Embedded AI and analytics are software capabilities that deliver real-time reporting, interactive data visualization and advanced analytics and intelligence directly into an enterprise business application.
Our take: Although many companies have detailed knowledge of their supply chains, we see having even more data available and reducing the need need to engage multiple stakeholders improves decision-making.
In 2020 we formalized our efforts to assist customers to achieve this by establishing our Supply Chain Analytics division. With CargoValue acting as the master data source, the team has introduced embedded analytics to the supply chains of several of our customers to help them manage demurrage exposure and other cost-intensive elements of the supply chain.
Augmented Data Intelligence
Gartner: Augmented data intelligence is a combination of several technologies that facilitate advanced data processing on top of a data lake/platform and further allow for the delivery of insightful information, predictions, and suggestions.
Our take: By using advanced data and analytics as a tool when planning and looking for optimization potential in supply chains, value creation opportunities are highlighted early enough for stakeholders to be able to capitalize upon them.
Finite and time-sensitive opportunities where profit margins are slim become recognizable, and real-time decision-making generates real value across the supply chain by reducing costs, waste, and the environmental impact of sub-optimal planning.
Learn more of our experiences on this in the case studies and findings presented in recent white paper: Unlock Millions in Supply Chain Value with Data and Analytics