As we approach the holiday season, I’ve been taking some time to reflect on what a tremendous year it’s been in the world of supply chain. From the impact of new technologies to growing expectations for real-time visibility throughout supply chain operations, there are few key trends that have emerged over the past year.
1. IoT is a Must
One of the biggest trends we’re seeing this year is that IoT tools have become a staple for the modern supply chain. While IoT, or the Internet of Things, has topped the hype cycles for years, it’s become clear that the era of IoT is finally upon us. Gartner estimates that over 20 billion IoT devices will be in use by 2020, while a recent report from GlobalData and Supply Chain Management Review found that the market for IoT products and services reached over $100 billion in 2018 — and it’s forecasted to keep growing rapidly.
This trend is the result of significant technological development in low-cost, low-power sensors and wireless chipsets, as well as cloud computing tools and communications infrastructure optimized for IoT. Thanks to these new tools and technologies, it has become possible to stay constantly connected to in-transit goods as they travel for weeks or even months at a time, maintaining non-stop visibility into both the location and condition of shipments anywhere in the world.
With advanced connectivity technology, cutting-edge low-power sensors, state of the art firmware, easy-to-use cloud-based software interfaces for real-time data monitoring, and seamless integrations into the existing supply chain ecosystem (ERP, TMS, etc.), IoT solutions for supply chain management are becoming a must-have for the modern manufacturer.
2. The Amazon Effect
In the era of television shows with a ton of commercials and waiting 15 minutes or more for taxi cabs, a short wait was nothing to complain about. But today, we have entered the world of Netflix, Uber and DoorDash. Waiting is a thing of the past, and enterprise level supply chains are no different.
Today’s B2C and B2B customers expect Amazon-level speed and reliability when it comes to their shipments. Patience is at an all-time low, and that’s had a huge impact on the job of the supply chain manager. To keep up with customer demand and stay competitive in the modern marketplace, we’re seeing manufacturers big and small turn to digital, IoT-powered solutions that enable real-time in-transit visibility with transparent and consistent service.
3. Real-Time or Bust
Finally, a direct result of this “Amazon Effect” is that both consumers and businesses have less and less patience for stale data. In the past, a pharmaceutical company might rely on limited telematics data, or after-the-fact temperature logger data, to gain insight into the in-transit environment of their temperature-sensitive products. But today, those passive systems for accessing vital supply chain data just don’t cut it.
The modern customer — and company — insists on real-time data. We’re seeing this in every industry, from electronics to groceries to luxury goods and more. Time is money, and manufacturers and their customers don’t have time to wait or money to lose. If a shipment is running late, or likely to arrived damaged, the shipper wants to know about it ahead of time. To meet these rising expectations, manufacturers all around the world have been turning to real-time visibility solutions to gain access to the insights they need, when they need it.
An Exciting Year for Supply Chain
The most exciting thing about all three of these trends is that this is just the beginning, and here at Tive, we are ideally positioned to grow and fully deliver in this promising space. With a new year just around the corner, it’s time to invest in new technologies, embrace a mindset of growth, and do everything we can to build the future of supply chain. That’s what we do every day here at Tive, and I can’t wait to keep improving our product and bringing new levels of visibility to our customers for years to come.