When Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus now-famously noted that “change is the only constant in life,” he couldn’t have possibly known how much that statement would resonate thousands of years later.
Some may argue that we’re in a greater stage of change than ever before: consumerism, globalization, and technology are driving dramatic shifts in our world every day. The global population has grown from one billion people to seven billion in just 200 years, and there has been more information generated in the last 10 years than was accumulated in the entirety of human history before that. The rise of the IoT will only increase the rate at which information and data is created, with Gartner predicting 27 billion IoT devices in use around the world by 2020.
This constant state of change is having a direct influence on the manufacturing and logistics industries—requiring a new supply chain that not only responds to but is also optimized for a smarter data-driven world. As technologists, it’s our job to help successfully usher in this change by turning it into a business opportunity.
Embrace the End-To-End Value Chain
Today’s supply chain is much different than it was just 10 years ago. The traditional view of the supply chain that encompassed common 3PL functions like procurement, manufacturing, distribution, and delivery overlooks wide swaths that are present in what organizations need today. For example, managing access to and monetizing software on a piece of hardware long after it’s been put into customers’ hands or handling the influx of returns that now happen as more consumers shop online are two common needs today that barely existed just 15 years ago.
No one technology will win, but instead the most cost efficient, successful supply chains will deploy a complex web of interconnected solutions
While digital and physical supply chain services have traditionally been separate, a number of technology advancements in the IoT, big data, and robotics sectors, among others, are driving innovations that are eradicating the digital/ physical border. When you embrace the digital and physical supply chain as a single entity, it transforms into a true value chain. The two modes of supply chain can interact with one another to form a seamless and communicative process where employees and machines work to accomplish the same goals, and data is gathered throughout both modes and then analyzed and applied to make supply chains—and most importantly, the business—more efficient moving forward.