The supply chain is heading toward automation and analytics.
Eight key themes will dominate the direction of supply chain technology this year.
According to new analysis from Gartner, automation, intelligence, and resiliency are three main drivers of the current key trends in supply chain technology. Gartner identifies these trends as:
According to Gartner, hyperautomation is a business-driven approach that organizations use to rapidly identify, vet and automate as many business and IT processes as possible through the orchestrated use of multiple technologies. These solutions include artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
Moving beyond initial focus on AI and ML, hyperautomation integrates other technologies and tools. During the next five years, Gartner predicts hyperautomation 2.0 will be part of initiatives in warehousing, transport, production and others. Solutions will include intelligent remote fulfillment networks in warehouse or yard management domains, as well as personalized e-commerce applications.
Gartner defines next-generation robots as being more flexible and adaptive than previous iterations of robotic technology, and says they now can be applied to a variety of tasks. In the future, companies will have heterogeneous fleets of robots where work will have to be orchestrated across different robots, which Gartner says means that robots have to interact with each other and need to communicate with other types of automated equipment, like elevators and doors.
According to Gartner, autonomous things, such as robots, vehicles or drones can augment traditional manually intensive physical tasks with greater efficiency, clarity and safety. Working independently or in networks they also enhance a new generation of immersive work and customer experiences through enhanced service efficiency and transparency. Autonomous things support safer, more efficient and optimized processes and operations across supply chains.
Digital supply chain twin
The digital supply chain twin (DSCT) is a digital representation of the physical supply chain. It is the basis for local and end-to-end (E2E) decision-making that ensures that all decisions are aligned horizontally and vertically throughout the supply chain. Through its connection to the real world, Gartner says digital supply chain technology greatly enhances situational awareness, enabling faster and more accurate decisions.
Analytics are capabilities that deliver reporting, interactive data visualization, advanced analytics and intelligence — including ML and predictive and prescriptive analytics. With the ever-growing availability of data, Gartner says AI can now be applied to transform data into information and deeper insights as part of a DSCT.
Security mesh is defined by Gartner as a structured framework of governance, collaboration and applied technology applications that are orchestrated from within supply chains with the aim of ensuring supply chain systems, tools, applications and people are safe and secure at all times.
Ecosystem collaboration tools are digital technologies and services that create a collaborative work environment, which Gartner says can generate new and continuous shared value opportunities. These solutions and services can establish foundational network visualization and mapping tools to support real-time digital connections across people, data, machines, systems, processes, and things.
Gartner defines sustainability tools as applications, services and capabilities that support events associated with directives for sustainability, environmental and circular economy impacts, and mandates. They enhance levels of digitalization, collaboration and visibility, which are often crucial to the evolution of sustainability programs.
“Sustainability has impacts that span the entire value chain, from plan, to source, to make, to deliver, to the service domain,” said Dwight Klappich, VP analyst with the Gartner supply chain practice. “Supply chain leaders who don’t invest in tools that support a wide range of sustainability goals and metrics risk a significant impact on brand, company image and consumer value perception. There’s also a risk of stranded assets, vulnerability to carbon tax, unpreparedness for climate-related supply chain disruptions – and accordingly shareholder value.”
[Read more: Gartner: Artificial intelligence will spread in supply chain]