Home > TradeEdge > Blogs > The role of modern technologies in shaping the future of supply chains
The global network of supply chains has been facing numerous disruptions since the onset of the pandemic in 2020. However, the tumultuous year presented opportunities for digitally native brands in the guise of increasing preference for online retail, a sudden shift in consumer choices, pent-up demand, and amassed savings. Unfortunately, the future of the supply chain still looked bleak and presented more challenges for e-commerce retail and others. Moreover, the problems continued in 2022 with material scarcity, hefty freight charges, effective demand forecasting, geopolitical situations, and rising inflation.
Enterprises are thus ramping up their digital transformation initiatives and bringing new technologies like Automation and AI into their existing processes. They are also reconsidering automated solutions to improve their supply chains. From this point, it is apparent that the future of the supply chain will be more tech-enabled and data-driven.
Supply chains have always been vulnerable to market disruptions. The current geopolitical situations, economic meltdown, and rising inflation are major disruptors impacting the seamless upstream and downstream movements of goods in the network.
Therefore, the rising complexity and diversity of global supply chains require smart management tools and new techniques, from digital alerting systems to tracking potential disruptive events that would help enterprises focus more on high-risk regions and suppliers. Timely updates of possible challenges would eventually help boost supply chain resilience, agility, and sustainability. These three elements are needed to create a future-proof supply chain network.
As stated earlier, enterprises worldwide resort to new technologies to improve their demand-supply value chains.
For instance, one of the leading sports merchandising clients leveraged EdgeVerve’s TradeEdge, a supply chain management platform, to restructure its Point of Sale (POS) Business Intelligence system and extract accurate insights for its retailers’ POS and inventory position. The client also wanted to boost the market share, collaboration, and efficiency that would enable it to obtain real-time and reliable data for correct decision-making.
Although the client has a network of many intermediaries like distributors, wholesalers, and retailers, it had to face its fair share of challenges with its own point-of-sale (POS) system. It was affecting its real-time visibility into sales performance across regions and products. However, after applying TradeEdge, the client was able to improve its demand visibility by 60% with near real-time harmonized data.
Supply chain automation refers to the process of implementing tech-enabled digital solutions to build connections in the network and streamline supply chain operations for higher efficiency. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, and Automation are some advanced technologies leveraged to create resilient and agile networks. Automation possibilities are being explored at every step in the supply chain to create an autonomous channel. With technical and manual operations automated, employees focus more on decision-making tasks. That reduces dependency on the human workforce, and its resultant outcome is seen in eliminating human errors, cost, and time.
For example, robotics, automation, and 3D printing are implemented in manufacturing to reduce production schedules. Further, digitized platforms facilitate quick data distribution between partners, offering real-time visibility into the supply chain. And software upgrades with integrated AI, Automation, and the Internet of Things improve the productivity of workforces.
As mentioned earlier, modern technologies are being increasingly explored and implemented to change the future of the supply chain. That being said, let’s dive deeper into supply chain automation’s benefits and use cases.
Supply chain automation has benefitted enterprises greatly and improved operations at each stage. The following advantages will help us understand how technology’s power effectively revamps the supply chain’s future.
Accelerated manual tasks: A connected supply chain powered by Automation and AI has spared employees from the burden of manual, long-haul recurring tasks. With eliminated manual tasks, the chances of human error, labor, and operational costs, cycle time, poor inventory, and warehouse management are greatly reduced.
Transparency of operations: Improved transparency of network operations provides greater visibility of processes and orchestration. It eliminates siloes and system gaps, fostering an end-to-end connected solution so enterprises can get real-time updates about possible bottlenecks and remediate situations to ensure business continuity. Further, product traceability is possible, which is essential for higher customer satisfaction.
Responsive and agile networks: With the advent of low-code automation, enterprises can bridge the connectivity gap in the network and access information about unforeseen events before time. This allows them to quickly respond to market changes and remediate any possible disruptions in the future.
Better adherence to regulations: Global manufacturers and suppliers often struggle to meet different regulations and adopt best business practices. Documenting and automating workflows using low-code automation platforms enable quicker identification and resolution of issues before further escalation.
As per market research, nearly 50% of international organizations will use AI, analytics, and IoT solutions in their supply chains by 2023. Advanced technologies are leveraged to gain an edge over market competition. With the power of automation and others, enterprises can increase the resiliency and responsiveness of their supply chain network to stay competitive.
Here are a few top-notch use cases in the supply chain that stand to benefit from the power of modern tech-enabled solutions.
Inventory management: The primary use case of supply chain automation is to ensure enough inventory is available in stock to meet customer demand. To support customer demand, enterprises use AI and other capabilities of automation to improve their demand forecasting accuracy for different product groups. Further, real-time inventory-level monitoring, inventory expiration date tracking, and inventory location identification are other critical functionalities of supply chain automation.
Sales order management: Automated order aggregation from multi-channels, order confirmation, order routing, order delivery time estimation, and tracking of order fulfillment are some critical functionalities of supply chain automation.
Supplier relationship management: Automation is the key to improving the future of the supply chain by enabling enterprises to carefully select their vendors, ensure compliance rules are met, and monitor their performance in real-time. Further, it can pre-define the routing of purchase orders for approval.
Logistics management: Automation empowers logistics and enterprises to create vehicle routes, track their movement in real-time and monitor the condition of transported goods using smart sensors.
Automation and other technologies have transformed businesses’ operations in the increasingly volatile market. With geopolitical conditions, severe weather changes, rising costs, and labor shortages disrupting every industry, it is evident that Automation and other added capabilities are needed to improve the future of supply chains. This is much needed to ensure operations continuity and address frequent customer demands shifts.
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