The modern supply chain is a complex beast. You might think things would become simpler after each peak of complexity, but that’s not the case. So, why not embrace complexity as the new normal and prepare for it? Let’s dive into the challenges of the supply chain and learn how to tackle them.
Changing consumer expectations
The driving force of complexity: changing consumer expectations. According to a report by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), over 40% of eCommerce orders in the US undergo at least one change before reaching the customer. That’s quite telling. It’s a clear indication that consumers are significantly influencing the way supply chains operate. They’re demanding more choices (SKU proliferation) and faster deliveries. These demands have a cascading effect throughout the entire supply chain.
Global trade disruptions
Trade distribution continues to be impeded. Be it geopolitical events such as the war in Ukraine, shifts in trust towards China, or labor challenges. The threat of a strike from a major shipping carrier in North America, the wage increases that have happened, have rippled on an international basis; all these factors introduce instability into supply chains. In fact, instability is the common thread, eroding the familiar structures we once relied on. The rapid shifts in response to these disruptions are making supply chains increasingly challenging to manage.
Supply chain collaboration
The pandemic taught us the immense value of collaboration. Businesses are shifting from a competitive mindset to one that prioritizes partnership. Real-time visibility is becoming essential, and it’s vital to view your partners as allies, not just vendors. The supply chain industry recognizes the need to work together effectively, ensuring that every link in the chain is fortified.
How to create a resilient supply chain? More technology.
Investing in technology is paramount. The reality is enterprises will protect their data structure, their operating business applications and platforms. But what they truly need is an overarching construct, a piece of technology, that simplifies how they engage with those partners meaningfully, whether it is for real-time visibility or how they course-correct when something goes wrong. And that starts with early detection systems where supply chain risk management is really having an amazing time right now in terms of growth.
In the short term, these platforms are designed to address current operational needs, providing rapid solutions and enhanced efficiency. In the long term, they evolve alongside your business, ensuring continuous improvement. It’s a win-win scenario, isn’t it?
So, what technology makes this possible?
Generative AI will play a pivotal role in the years to come. This technology aggregates and processes data, empowering businesses to make smarter decisions. AI could automate decisions, freeing up managers to focus on strategy rather than just day-to-day operations.
Empowering ground-level operatives
Real-time analytics are revolutionizing the way a business’s ground-level operatives function. With unified control systems (UCS), all the data converges, enabling managers and workers to monitor performance and respond swiftly. The ultimate goal is to efficiently deliver the product to the customer.
Less of “what if?” and more of “what do I do when?”
What happens if tomorrow I have a 20% increase in demand, something common in the holiday season for many customers? What if my operating design, my labor availability is only able to handle 11%? What do I do about that? The ability to take that to the cloud and offer it more as a commodity ubiquitously available, both globally and across the organization, democratizes that conversation and makes simulation an effective and strategic business decision. This is the evolution supply chains need to meet rising obstacles. As complexity increases, it’s crucial that we embrace innovation and adapt to meet our customers’ needs.
Roll with the times
Remember, the future of supply chains revolves around data, collaboration, and smarter decision-making. To thrive in this ever-changing landscape, it’s imperative we adapt.
Are you properly equipped to navigate this complex world?
As the Global Chief Technology Officer of Körber Supply Chain Software, Sean Elliott oversees the global strategy for all solutions. Sean leads Körber’s technological innovation to stay two steps ahead of rising supply chain complexity while ensuring solutions brings value to every region and customer around the world. A lifelong veteran in IT, Sean has 20 years of experience in understanding customer needs and solving supply chain complexity. Before becoming CTO, Sean held the same title for HighJump, a global supply chain software provider acquired by Körber. He also acted as the Vice President of Architecture and IT at Accellos. Sean believes that technology creates long-term differentiation for Körber customers. But, achieving this success requires true partnership—humble service and a listen-first approach that turns complex challenges into opportunities and positions customers to evolve as needs change. Apart from his career, Sean is an avid drummer and musician. He enjoys spending time in the beautiful Colorado outdoors with his wife and three daughters.