To think about what’s ahead in supply chain, it is important to put it in perspective with what’s ahead in business.  Read our article, “What’s Ahead in Business?” for details on the key trends impacting business:

  • Importance of the customer experience
  • Taking the holistic view has become a “must”
  • Volatility is the new norm
  • The coming power of manufacturing and supply chain

Given these trends, we predict our most successful clients will be thinking about these themes in the end-to-end supply chain:

  1. Manufacturing is the place to be!:Manufacturers are uniquely positioned to thrive. I have to say, I love that manufacturing is getting its due. According to NAM, for every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.89 is added to the economy which is the highest multiplier of any economic sector.  
  2. Distributed inventory management will be key to success: In today’s Amazon-impacted business environment, the customer expects rapid, low cost delivery. Given that the “last mile” has also become “last minute” with customers changing their mind frequently, predictive, distributed inventory management has become a differentiator.   
  3. Additive manufacturing will rise to the top: Customers want customized products on the fly yet distributors cannot stock everything near every manufacturer, end user and the like. 3D printing can achieve this goal.
  4. Customized, rapid delivery with Amazon-like service and efficiency is the norm:In addition to additive manufacturing, re-shoring and near-sourcing (locating close to customers) are viable solutions to achieve Amazon-like service. The question is how to be efficient, cost effective and visible while serving customers.
  5. Amazon prime for manufacturers is more than a pipe dream:  Subscription based models are becoming relevant to manufacturing, just as to Netflix and ERP systems. According to my friend, colleague and author Robbie Baxter, the membership model is just as relevant in manufacturing in transitioning from a one transaction/ one-way communication to an ongoing relationship with the customer with a constant stream of feedback.  
  6. We are moving to a digitized supply chain: To address customers’ elevated expectations while continuing to make a profit, manufacturers and supply chain organizations are moving to a digitized supply chain. Artificial intelligence, IoT, the smart factory, robots and more. Don’t embrace technology as a fad; instead, embrace technology as a way to achieve a result.
  7. To succeed, we must create a resilient supply chain:Disruptions and volatility abound. Customers expect more. Boards expect more. People are harder to find and retain. Creating a resilient supply chain enables a proactive response to the current environment. 

What will you do to get ahead of the curve in the New Year?