Supply Chain Gifts of 2018

Everybody loves numbers. Not necessarily numbers in the arithmetic, trigonometric or algebraic sense. Rather, the simple use of numbers in headlines is apparently an effective trigger to draw readers into perusing content organized numerically. And content that might be useful as well.

So, in the spirit of songs such as The 12 days of Christmas and The 8 Days of Hanukkah, we’d like to share what we believe will be among the best supply chain practices and considerations for 2018.  While we have no intention in sharing it in musical format, we’ll simply refer to it as 5 Supply Chain Gifts for 2018 – in no particular order.

  1. Cybersecurity – Considering the volumes of data shared and transmitted among suppliers, business partners and other third parties, data breaches are a risk if all engaged parties are not maintaining standards of security compliance. As the Digital Guardian suggests, “The supply chain as a whole is only truly secure when all entities throughout the supply chain carry out effective, coordinated security measures to ensure the integrity of supply chain data, the safety of goods, and the security of the global economy.”
  1. Blockchain – On the topic of security, block chain is the incorruptible digital ledger used to accurately and securely record transactions among participants. This technology gained familiarity and recognition as the platform that records cryptocurrency transactions, but has subsequently seen additional use to prevent voter fraud and improve government efficiency. IBM has implemented blockchain in their supply chain network and has yielded results such as improved inventory management, fraud reduction and elimination, and increased customer/partner trust.
  1. Artificial Intelligence – Intelligent machines learning and adapting from human experiences and other interactions.  Earlier this year the Wall Street Journal published a piece declaring, “Artificial intelligence is shaping up as the next industrial revolution.” AI is the force behind voice-powered personal assistants, virtual reality, military mission management and more. American Express purports AI has a role in Global Supply Chain Management Planning. It can leverage information from sources as varied as historical data, social media and weather forecasts and, “AI-based machine learns to automatically analyze vast amounts of supply-chain management data, identify trends, and generate predictive analytics — the ability to predict problems and outcomes.” A supply chain manager’s dream.
  1. Data Analytics – No longer in its infancy, data analytics has long been an imperative for organizations ranging from baseball teams to chess leagues. Used for years in SCM, it is constantly evolving. Just ask IBM. By parsing out the types of analytics, e.g., predictive and prescriptive, and their respective usefulness, e.g., what might happen and what shall we do about it, IBM demonstrates how big data can be used to answer the toughest business questions. More here on their other types of analytics.
  2. People – Talented, skilled and dedicated resources are the foundation and support of innumerable organizations. Whether executing day-to-day processes or applying innovative applications to emerging technologies, people provide the vision and creativity to run a well-oiled, high functioning organization.

    The human component, for 2018, just might be your most important business asset.