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How Technology Drives Supply Chain Evolution

by Simon
The US Chamber of Commerce held its annual Global Supply Chain Summit earlier this month. And while speakers focused on big-picture issues (e.g., the state of NAFTA), technology and supply chain evolution emerged as vital threads.

The real goal of technology in supply chains is to increase efficiency. This goes for everything from driverless trucks to efficiently sharing data between software solutions.

And as Logistics Management reports, writing about the summit, efficiency is the “key operational differentiator” for businesses competing in a global marketplace.

“It is time to build tomorrow’s networks today,” the Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said. “Everything we’re doing in technology, business and trade is all about the supply chain.”

What Do I Care About Supply Chain Evolution?

You may not think of what your business does as having a supply chain. But the fact is, if you’re buying or producing a product with the goal of selling it to a customer at a profit, you are the proud owner of a supply chain.

And the supply chain, to paraphrase Donohue in his summit address, is your artery. The fewer tools you have in place to make inventory management, production, order processing, demand planning and whatever else it takes to accomplish your business goals, the more clogged your artery will be.

Consequently, the more efficient you make your supply chain, the more competitive and profitable you will be in the end.

Technology in Supply Chain Evolution

Discussion at the Summit pointed to some general but not universally adopted technology in the supply chain.

Surprisingly there is a continued reliance on outmoded, inefficient processes and tools. This can have a run-on impact on supply chain partners. For example, one logistics executive at the summit noted some air cargo companies are stuck in paper-based processes.

Simply moving from paper to electronic processes reduces the time companies spend on administration tasks. The right technology also allows companies to increase visibility of their supply chains. Supply chain visibility helps companies to make decisions more rapidly and to adjust to conditions as they arise.

Finally, the right supply chain technology automates repetitive tasks. Automation is almost as broad as technology itself. Companies, for example, automate many aspects of production, logistics, and support. And for larger, older businesses it can take time and resources to adopt automation.

But when a supply chain pivots on visibility, control, and cost of inventory, there is readily-available technology for companies of any size to adopt and advance their supply chain evolution.