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  March 28th, 2018 | Written by

No Trend to Ignore: Supply Chain’s Digital Shift

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  • Industry leaders have begun to implement new ideas in their supply chain strategies.
  • Integrating new age technology can build a smarter supply chain.
  • What’s the difference between a “digital supply chain” and a “supply chain”?

In recent years, within the supply chain industry, there’s been a major drive toward a digital shift. This trend comes as no surprise and has guided business conduction from mere binary codes of ones and zeroes to self-driving technology and beyond.

The earliest supply chains extended only as far as two feet or four hooves as means of transportation. As our world has advanced, new innovations—from the compass to the railroad, and the first international freighter flight—pushed the boundaries of supply chains and the ease of transportation farther and faster than ever before. Although the initial forms of supply chain management won’t help you cross the seas or move from coast to coast, they laid the foundation which has revolutionized supply chain management forever.

Businesses have been operating with some form of technology for quite some time now, but viewing trends in 2018 predict an even more aggressive shift towards speed, agility, and efficiency into the future.

Industry leaders have already begun to implement new ideas into their supply chain strategies. Talk of advanced technologies that will presumably create a faster, more efficient supply chain are already coming to fruition. Integrating new age technology can not only build a smarter supply chain but allow businesses to implement more visibility and project higher goals in digital transformation. Leading companies in the supply chain industry set the precedent for all companies alike here, but we can also expect to see a dominant model of supply chain strategy reconstructed towards this trend.

By now you’ve probably questioned what the difference is between a “digital supply chain” and a “supply chain”, be that as it may, there is not one appointed answer. Generally speaking, supply chain professionals will likely agree that a digital supply chain is essentially summed up as this: data is collected from various sources along the supply chain and integrates that data to improve and reshape supply chain processes.

For example, the faster supply chain companies are able to deliver products, the more time they have to add other deliveries into their schedule. This leads to rapid growth in a short amount of time. In order to successfully execute fast deliveries, strategic planning and technological advantages must be implemented here in supply chain management. Let’s just say that flying robots and AI assistance are far less than impossible today.

According to the 2018 MHI Annual Industry Report, preliminary survey results report that 60 percent of respondents believe Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) being implemented into supply chain operations creates competitive advantages and disruption supply chains. IIoT is a network of devices that transforms supply chain growth.

A total of 80 percent of respondents from MHI’s survey plan to execute new solutions into their plans within the next five years to drive their companies towards a more digital supply chain. More and more companies are discovering the benefits and advantages of using technology in supply chain management. Among that 80 percent, 20 percent have already begun utilizing new solutions.

This strategy of implementing a digital supply chain provides a more transparent relationship between businesses and their clients, also making transactions between the supplier and the purchaser easier to navigate.

By means of electronics, software, and more, IIoT connects and exchanges data, which disrupts the old standards of data collection and sharing.

IIoT creates competitive advantages in supply chain management and allows companies to excel in their industry. Supply chain operations now have the means for smarter, more connected solutions. For anyone company in the industry that wishes to successfully last in today’s society, this developing trend is not one to be ignored.Through advanced technologies speed, visibility, efficiency, and other factors are improving the industry entirely. This further increases supply chain professionals’ ability to create customized solutions that previously would have been challenging, making for easier met deliverables and generalized freight transportation. Before a digital shift, transactions were made over phone calls, in-person business meetings, and more. Today, technology allows for online transactions, tracking, and communication between all parties in the supply chain.

These disruptive changes are becoming more and more influential. Factors such as IIoT, robotics, automation, predictive analytics, and even drones are optimization tools driving the supply chain into the future, expanding well beyond previous limitations and solutions. The adoption rate of digitization in supply chain is increasing and will continue to rise within the upcoming years. Now companies have the capability to build and get products faster and cheaper.

This digital shift is a trend trickling through the industry by osmosis when one company discovers advantages their competitors have, forcing them to go above and beyond that if they wish to stay in the game.

Speed, agility, and efficiency are not attained through mere attempts in design. By implementing cutting edge strategies that latch onto technology, companies are able to see stronger growth more so than ever before. Technology in both logistics and supply chain is critical in order for a business thrive. Without new-age digitization, companies will only fall into the background.

It breaks down to this–technology creates capabilities that stretch far beyond one’s own two hands. Logistics companies are now progressing farther than their original capabilities through digitization. This digital shift in supply chain is launching businesses to reach optimal levels of product. Logistics and supply chain are industries built on speed, where fast transportation is simply too slow–the world wants to move even faster than before.

David Pereira is the founder and CEO of Trinity Logistics, USA Inc., a New York-based, global transportation company and a big supporter of digital disruption in logistics.