In 2020, the global pandemic of COVID-19 showed us how important it is to have a resilient supply chain. Which trends will have an impact on supply chain visibility in 2021?
Here are three important trends to observe or adapt right away.
End-to-end IoT. Access to real-time information.
A simple yet reliable Internet of Things plays a significant role in supply chain visibility. Location, motion, shock and other sensors attached to modes of transportation offer various information in real-time.
Easy to use IoT devices increase efficiency and introduce other benefits.
Thanks to them you can:
- minimise downtime,
- react to customer demands,
- address issues with accurate data,
- improve overall ROI,
- boost transparency.
The lesson learnt from the pandemic of COVID-19 is: you need to know about any disruptions in your supply chain as fast as possible to, e.g., inform your customers about downtimes.
Smart devices connected to the Internet and gathering information from end-to-end help managers worldwide proactively respond to changing circumstances.
Of course, like any other trend, introducing IoT to a company is related to additional investment, but it pays off with hard data upon which you can make confident decisions.
Keep a close eye on IoT in 2021 and minimise information time lags.
Blockchain. Eliminating transparency issues.
Blockchain is slowly approaching the T&L industry. It brings trust and transparency, for instance shipping documents and make sure they haven't been comprised and are securely signed off.
Take a look at DHL's Logistics Trend Report, it's a useful knowledge source.
2021 will probably bring a wider adoption of the technology. More companies need to ensure transparency in their daily operations, and blockchain (and alternative technologies) is a way to securely share data with all concerned parties.
Any fraud attempt is monitored and recorded, so traceability is the resource to use for your benefit.
Anyone who needs to check the information on a given product or process has it at their fingertips.
Although 2020 brought some exciting examples of the technology usage in the food and beverage industry (see here), it may be wise just to observe the trend, and not apply it yet.
Research suggests that blockchain can save billions of dollars for some industries . We believe, however, that there are alternatives to blockchain that in many circumstances are better than this specific technology.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for task automation.
McKinsey's study showed that 49% of all activities that people are paid to do today could be automated by adopting AI. 2021 will be the year of making simple and repetitive work more efficient by using AI for tasks automation.
By crunching data from previous operations, trained AI algorithms can eliminate human errors in works such as, logistics documentation reading and processing. Automation can redirect free human labour to more demanding tasks.
The potential of AI/ML is more significant, of course. In the near future, it will help to forecast market demand, for instance. But in 2021 companies will continue to automate simple tasks.
Again, as with any other technology, there will be some obstacles on the way.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is already making machine data available for consumption by AI-based systems, often for the first time. IoT involves collecting large heterogeneous datasets from vast fleets of heterogeneous devices, but making sense of this information and learning from it can be a challenging task even for the advanced data analytics tools of today (source).
IoT, Blockchain and AI/ML - these are top three trends to watch in 2021 for supply chain visibility. Each technology can have a big impact on your business if properly introduced.
If you are interested in taking action on your supply chain visibility, here's the article about how supply chain visibility can improve planning. Enjoy!