2019 Supply Chain Trends

supply chain trendsAs I wrote about a few weeks ago, I spent the first week of February in Orlando attending ARC Advisory Group’s Industry Forum. The event had a heavy focus on how digitizing factories, cities, and infrastructure will benefit technology end users and suppliers alike. While I was there, I had the opportunity to sit down and interview a few ARC analysts including Craig Resnick, Greg Gorbach, Larry O’Brien, Mike Guilfoyle, Harry Forbes, Will Hastings, and Jim Frazier. I also had the opportunity to sit down with Steve Banker and discuss some of the major industry trends the two of us are following and researching.

Steve Banker highlighted two main themes in our conversation. First, he sees 2019 as the year of Blockchain in supply chain management. Recently, there has been big news around the technology. For example, Walmart has mandated that suppliers for green, leafy vegetables use blockchain for traceability. Additionally, within the drug supply chain, there is a problem around returns. A new regulation stipulates that traceability needs to be improved and blockchain will be the record of choice.

Steve also highlighted supply chain networks as a major theme. This fits into the idea of a digital supply chain. Supply chain networks give visibility into a variety of different types of information, including information from the TMS or WMS, several tiers up the supply chain. This can lead to better demand planning and inventory planning processes.

The main themes I highlighted are around transportation visibility, especially from a visibility standpoint, and the emergence of the digital freight matching marketplace. Visibility gets more granular than simply knowing where a truck or ship is; it gets down to the container or item-specific location. This is especially important as last mile delivery costs continue to rise.

The digital freight matching market, or the Uberization of freight as some like to call it, is not a new concept. There has been investment money pouring in for a few years, and a plethora of companies trying to make their name. Until recently, I was reluctant to think that the market would take off. But, with the current capacity restraints, most of the big TMS suppliers are creating partnerships for digital freight matching within their systems. This leads me to believe that the market is hitting critical mass and can thrive.

You can check out the full conversation with Steve Banker below.