What’s hot this year in supply chain technology
Supply chains in the 2020s thrive by staying ahead of the game – by evolving their practices, upgrading their technology, and making smooth and seamless transitions from one state to another. So what transitions should you be making in terms of supply chain technology across the course of 2023? There are a handful of developments to watch.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and built-in analytics.
It’s probably redundant to say that in the late stages of 2022, artificial intelligence (AI) took a significant leap forward, as Open AI released ChatGPT and blew the minds of most of the world with its capabilities.
It will also surprise no-one that once the bridge to a new generation of AI had been built, plenty of contenders to do the same thing, but better and/or more tailored to particular types of function or industry, began to spring up in the very early days of 2023.
There are those among the many observers of this new AI who warn that it has yet to be sufficiently tried out in the wild, and then there are those who continue to show the uses to which it can be put, and who talk of the next iteration of the technology having the same number of neural connections as a human brain.
Beyond any shadow of doubt, the new version of AI, machine learning, and integrated analytics will begin to really make their mark in supply chains in 2023 – and once they’re in, like many significant leaps forward, it will become quickly impossible to imagine the world in which supply chains were not intrinsically aided by AI. The benefits of following this supply chain technology trend include adding real-time reporting, interactive data visualization and possibly even predictive and prescriptive analytics into your part of the supply chain.
What does that mean? More up-to-date data, a more effective view of where everything is at any moment, and a clearer picture of what you need to get the job done. Pitting a company with access to all that against one without it is like playing a round of golf, when only one of you has clubs.
While AI has been a rapidly developing must-have in 2022 and early 2023, the focus on supply chain security has been growing for significantly longer than that. But with supply chain cyberattacks increasingly popular, there will be a much stronger focus on supply chain technology that helps secure the chain and bolster its safety.
That means we’re very likely to see a much more holistic approach to supply chain security emerging in 2023, which includes the physical elements of the chain, from machines to products to IoT (Internet of Things) sensors, etc, but also extends to trickier things to secure, like intellectual property, proprietary coding, and personal data.
By adopting such a multi-dimensional approach to security, a supply chain can at least stand a much better chance of guaranteeing the safety of everything it produces and ships. Bad actors will always seek the weakest point in a supply chain, because if they can go unnoticed by attacking such a point, they can reap all the rewards for minimum effort.
2023 could well be the year in which the biggest rend in supply chain technology is to finally take security as seriously as the bad actors do.
Digital twins is the name for a technology that allows us to model a real-life situation in a computer so we can run simulations, track assets, and run problem-solving scenarios, without having, for instance, to mobilize an entire warehouse of staff to see how things play out in real life.
In short, digital twins allow you to try things out without any of the cost or hassle of running your scenario in the real world. That means for supply chains that are keen to evolve, but less keen to spend a fortune doing it, digital twins are increasingly going to be the way to test out innovations ahead of big digital transformations.
With prices on software and expertise coming down, digital twins spent 2022 stepping ever closer to the mainstream. 2023 looks like being the year they explode into supply chains everywhere.
The world of supply chain technology is getting smarter and smarter with every year that passes, with several technologies reaching the point of maturity at which they can become individual game-changers.
What we’re also likely to see as 2023 goes on – particularly as it rolls into Q3 – is a coming together of these technologies and techniques, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, smart machines, and robotic process automation (RPA), into sub-systems of hyperautomation, where a very great deal more than has previously been usual is pre-done without human intervention.
There’s an element of sci-fi creepiness to overcome about that, but as the process evolves and demonstrates not only its safety but its significant efficiency gains, hyperautomation may well become the supply chain’s greatest asset.
Speed is not always the most important thing in a supply chain. Not always – but very nearly always. And hyperautomation will take some human-centered delays out of the supply chain, helping to render it a lot more efficient, and probably more effective, too.
These are just a handful of the hottest trends in supply chain technology in 2023. Like everything else, they’re subject to the impact of Events – but keeping an eye on these four trends is likely to pay you, and your supply chain, extensive dividends this year.
28 September 2023
28 September 2023
28 September 2023