- Ecommerce reaches the tipping point. Driven by on-line and mobile technology, ecommerce has surpassed the level where it was considered a small but significant part of the business scene. Now it’s a much larger, much hotter channel that is causing profound changes in the supply chain, from DC location to multi-level inventory forecasting to showrooming to ‘last mile’ logistics. The ‘omni-channel’ enterprise is here to stay and will continue to force the supply chain to get better integrated, more collaborative, and much closer to the ultimate customer.
- Risk management becomes more than a passive exercise. Large-scale disruptions to supply chains, such as the issues caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, caused serious supply problems and affected sales and profitability in many industries. With increasingly global and interconnected supply chains, enterprises have become serious about risk analysis, prevention, planning, and management. The risk to corporate profitability caused by the temporary or permanent loss of a key supply chain partner has become too great to relegate to the back-burner.
- New technologies make inroads. Let’s face it: hot technologies often cool down as quickly as they heated up. Not so for cloud-based applications and ‘big data’. No technology development in memory has had the potential to drive so many positive changes in the supply chain, particularly around collaboration among supply chain partners, as the cloud. Big Data is a bit behind on the adoption curve, but it has unleashed a new level of analytical development that will affect every aspect of the supply chain.
- Sustainability steps out of the shadows. Companies across the size and industry spectrums began embracing ‘green’ a few years back, but once they determined it drives cost reduction and profitability it really hit its stride. Nearly every major enterprise has supply chain sustainability as an objective, with retailers like WalMart and consumer goods producers such as Proctor and Gamble leading the way.
So, those are four key trends I took away from reading through a record amount of material this year. Unless you’re part of a large enterprise, you’re probably not getting hit by all of them at the same time. However, I bet you’ve been affected by one or more, and the rest will impact you eventually either directly or indirectly. Are there any other major trends out there I’m missing?