We are amid a digital revolution, a time when customers are exposed to digital convenience led by new-age businesses. Digital supply chain transformation is a radical approach that seeks to harness the power of digital technologies to achieve market leadership for the enterprise, with improved value to both bottom-line and topline. Our cover story attempts to unfurl the perfect algorithm for organizations to build a sustainable supply chain efficiently backed by technology…
OVER the past few years, India has gone through major reforms like GST, Fuel price de-regulation, Demonetization, etc., which have fueled our economy in many ways. Large organized businesses are drawing massive growth plans and making investments to augment demand that is expected to generate not just from tier 1 and tier 2 cities but from tier 3, 4 & 5 as well as rural sector. Mass customization is becoming a norm. Companies no longer consider demand as a sales plan, they are trying to understand their customers, markets, competitors much better than before and as a result gathering vast amounts of consumer data to run analytics and find a way to use the same objectively.
Saurabh Daga, Director – Business Development, o9, shares, “Digital transformation is affecting our personal lives in a big way. For example, we use Google Search for every bit of information we want, and we have it on our fingertips. Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp allow us to collaborate in real time. Google Maps gives us real time visibility into traffic conditions and prescriptive actionable insights, Amazon and Netflix learn from our shopping and content preferences and makes customized recommendations. Uber & Ola are the best examples of real-time demand and supply match, whereas Siri and Alexa are our digital assistants in the consumer world. But the reality in our enterprise world is completely opposite – we struggle to get insights from vast amounts of data within our enterprise, there are functional silos and hierarchies, visibility is often poor and delayed, thereby creating surprises. Knowledge is mostly tribal and comes with years of experience, and there is sub-optimal resource allocation leading to higher costs. Our organizations are living in thousands and thousands of spreadsheets, slides, and emails. The advent of digital transformation is challenging supply chain organizations and leaders in large companies to transform how they plan and respond to market demand changes and allocate resources near real time. These are some of the reasons why companies are looking for best of breed supply chain technology solutions.”
Siddaraju H.V., Co-Founder & CEO, Caliper Business Solutions Pvt. Ltd., adds, “Thanks to the changing customer behaviour, India’s supply chain is leap-frogging forward. Unlike a decade back, today’s customer completes his research on the product before he purchases it. He is well informed about the product and features. Therefore, the buying decision is already made before he initiates transaction. Now the challenge is to ensure that the customer preferred product is available for sale. Thus, the data analytics is getting blended into supply chain to ensure right product at right place for the customer to purchase.”
“Secondly, technology investments through start-ups in supply chain has given a great advantage to the manufacturing companies, as they need not invest time and money on the software but just use SaaS models. This encouraged the growth potential in the tech-enabled companies. Third factor is, supply chain models are changing. With the advent of e-commerce, retail shelf stocking is coming down. This challenged the traditional stocking and goods movement process, leading to tech-enabled supply chains to handle speed of execution and planning. Another important factor is significant improvement in transparency. The modern supply chain managers are drawn towards transparent exchange of information across stake-holders which can be done efficiently through technology,” he shares.
On a similar vein, Rahul Gupta, Vice President – Procurement & Planning, Amway India, remarks, “Globalization with digitization is creating a need for organizations to re-examine the way they are organizing and deploying their supply chains.” Some of the key factors which are driving tech-enabled growth are:
Information explosion: Quantity of data generated is rising exponentially. The 3Vs - Volume, Variety and Velocity of data generation makes it necessary for organizations to leverage such ubiquitous data to gain a competitive advantage and continuously exceed customer expectation.
Rapid technology adoption & Digital convenience: It is estimated that by 2030, more than 60% of the world’s population will have access to the internet on their mobile devices. With the easy availability of product reviews and competitive comparisons, it is imperative for companies to deliver their products and services as per the customers’ needs within limited cost and time. This has resulted in a requirement for tech-enabled growth even in the supply chain. At Amway, we have subscribed to commodity forecasting techniques for some volatile commodities to deliver the best total value.
Uberization: The new model of shared economy i.e. Uberization brings cost effectiveness. For example, dynamic warehousing is emerging as a viable way of purchasing warehousing services on demand—paying only for what is used instead of owning distribution centers or signing contracts with third-party logistics providers (3PLs). And like any other shared-economy services, the actual pay-per-use transaction occurs in an electronic marketplace.
Sharing insights, Manav Verma, Chief Marketing Officer, DHL SmarTrucking India, says, “Even as India has been taking steps to accelerate reforms in the logistics sector, including the elimination of trade barriers, streamlining of procedures, and a revision of the cabotage policy for domestic freight, companies in the sector have been betting on ‘technology-enabled trucking’”.
According to Pradeep Chaudhary, Domain Consultant, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., “The last few years have seen tremendous growth in tech enabled services in India.” Today cloud based SaaS for ERPs is easily available at a price ranging from `3000/- to `5000/- per month for small & medium businesses. This represents a fraction of their monthly operating costs and therefore becomes very attractive for digitizing their operations.”
ASR Prasad, VP and Head Centre of Excellence, Future Supply Chain Solutions, highlights that the new GST framework has ensured that decisions are now purely based on supply chain efficiencies. With customer experience being significantly affected by supply chain experience, there has been a considerable focus to optimize supply chain, which has resulted in the evolution of the Digital Supply Chain. Also, the growth of automation solutions, robotics, enhanced capabilities of sortation system, and digital advancements around the globe are opening up newer areas for technology adoption. These help bring in higher efficiencies in operations, more reliability in the execution and complete transparency across the chain.
Giving a holistic perspective, Manjunath SR, Senior Director, Industrial Supply Chain Consulting, JLL India, asserts that customer expectations are growing, the online trend has led to increasing service expectations combined with a much stronger granularization of orders. As e-commerce organizations continue raising the bar in delivery and service, customers increasingly expect real-time updates, quick delivery and impeccable performance. There is also a very definite trend towards further individualization and customization that drives the strong growth and constant changes in the SKU portfolio. The online-enabled transparency and easy access to a multitude of options regarding where to shop and what to buy drives the competition of supply chains.
The pace is aggressive as organizations plan to incorporate new technologies. The top technologies to be implemented in the next one to two years include automation, real-time data and analytics, sensors and the Internet of Things. These have the potential to provide clear visibility in the supply chain, increase inventory accuracy, predict market shifts in consumer behaviour, and decrease cycle times. As early adopters prove cost and efficiency gains, more will get on board with technology implementations.
To build on these trends and cope with the changed requirements, supply chains need to become much faster, more granular, and much more precise.
Manjunath SR shares the many challenges that organizations face when introducing new technologies:
Focusing on benefits versus costs: Organizations considering new technologies must be laser clear as to the benefit and let that drive the prioritization process versus weighing projects by cost or complexity.
Need to define robust processes: Implementing technology also creates momentum to converge processes, it forces an organization to identify what are their leading practices and doubling down on making those more precise and efficient.
Pressure to run large corporations like a start-up: Technology introduces change and new practices into an organization that can cause resistance in upper and executive levels of management.
Validating technology use cases: Companies no longer can afford to guess if their technology investment can make an impact, leading organizations now validate from the get-go to determine the impact and viability of proposed investments.
User adoption challenges: Users will often resist change and adopting new systems particularly when they haven’t been consulted nor if their reporting organizations do not incentivize them to do so.
Rahul Gupta remarks that implementing technology solution involves numerous layers of technology adoption and change management. This requires changes in the processes as well as operational practices. Some of the challenges that need to be addressed are:
Digital transformation goal - Lack of understanding of the usage and application of multiple technology offerings, i.e. IOT, analytics automation, or AI, leads to the inability of justifying the financial investment. Insufficient return on investment poses a barrier, as organizations struggle to assess the incremental benefit of adopting new technologies over existing processes.
Technology integration (within & outside the organization): Integration of new technologies with an organization’s legacy system causes inherent technology challenges and delay in adoption. Using multiple data silos that are not unified, leads to process inefficiency and limits the value that can be derived from data. It is also crucial to assess whether business partners can adopt the technology platform to complete the information loop. At Amway, too, integration is one of the main challenges, since we have been using many legacy systems.
Cultural challenge: Cultural change is more complicated than changing technology. The need is to build a digital culture proactively i.e. provide the expertise, experience, and motivation to people to use the technology being implemented effectively.
Talent gap: It is imperative that organizations plan for talent transition. Users must possess relevant experience in technology application and should be equipped to harness the potential of data science and advanced modeling capabilities to support business strategy. For this, hiring managers need to re-evaluate the methodology of attracting potential talent and to reskill the existing workforce.
According to Siddaraju H.V., the element of learning and future outlook is at its nascent stage. Digitization should form part of their strategic KRA. Organizations should look beyond cost reduction when they implement technology.” The encouraging fact is that most Supply Chain Heads and some CXOs are already taking this KRA on their own and started investing time on technology adoption. Quality of the operational ground level staff is something that we should focus to work upon while implementing technology. As one of the customers said, supply chain technology should be ‘illiterate proof’. We should not forget that this is the only function that has stakeholders’ right from Fleet Driver to CEO. There is no ‘one solution fits all in supply chain’. Within the same industry also, we find different standards. Customization of these variations would mean constant changes in the product. This necessitates shifting to new technologies faster, leading to shorter product/technology life cycles,” he reiterates.
For Saurabh Daga, these challenges take the top seat:
Long implementation cycles: Implementation of supply chain technology solutions has traditionally been long and difficult. The big-bang approach of developing a blueprint, configuring the system, data integration, testing, etc. took months or years to implement basic planning systems from legacy providers.
Inflexibility: The business models are changing rapidly, which calls for flexibility in planning system to respond to business needs, but unfortunately due to technology limitations, the legacy systems cannot change so easily and rapidly unless the solution is further customized or re-implemented.
Poor adoption: Change management is a big issue leading to poor adoption of supply chain solutions. Users are used to Excel, and if they are given a rigid tool without properly understanding their needs or they don’t receive adequate training and re-training, adoption will be low. This is a significant issue in many companies and needs to be addressed by both vendors and end-user companies.
Talking about the implementation of technology by small players, Manav Verma states two major challenges that constrain the adoption of technology in Indian logistics, which include lack of awareness and limited access to technology. Since the Indian logistics industry is highly unorganized, with many small, local players, these bottlenecks have a great impact on the sector.
Lack of awareness of the available technology applications, and about the adoption cost, inhibit smaller providers – they may perceive the cost involved to be huge, however low-cost solutions such as the use of sensors with standard data networks can help them improve the quality of their service without breaking the bank. Smaller players also do not have expertise within the company, to implement and use these technologies. In the cold chain industry, for example, there is a lot of growth potential and need for efficiency, but inadequate technological adoption hampers the reliability and security that is required by businesses from their logistics partners.
According to Pradeep Chaudhary, the challenges are more from change management, project management, commitment from senior executives in terms of time. Many a times, it is seen that the business requirements are not clearly articulated. Especially in cases where multiple business stakeholders are involved – each having a variant of the processes to be automated through IT. Some requirements get missed out during the early phase of the IT project and then during development or testing, new requirements come in. This creates speed-breakers in the IT program and results in delay and cost escalation.
Sometimes and especially for software products, the customization is so heavy that it creates problems in the working of the software itself. It is to be understood that change management is an integral part of implementing any technology solution. Hence, the customer has to ensure that the right business and people change management processes are followed to ensure a smooth transition.
For Bharat Ramanath, Director & Industry Principal, ShipX, there is a lot of ‘noise’ in the tech space. People hear new buzzwords every so often and hear that these buzzwords are the real answer to world hunger! This leads to problems at two ends of the scale; confusion, at one end, on what I need for my business or scepticism, at the other, that this is all so much noise and we have heard it all before. (In many ways, technologists and tech product vendors are responsible for causing this chaos). It is not uncommon for organizations to make sub-optimal technology choices, based merely on peer pressure or perceived benefits that someone else claims to have gotten from such technology.
Even if there is clarity on the choice of technology and platform and on the specific problem(s) being solved, there is another broad issue that needs to be managed very carefully, that of implementation! Remember that supply chain is finally a people driven business. A tech platform is only one piece of the puzzle. If the surrounding processes and the associated people are not aligned through rigorous training on the platform, the solution is bound to fail. And very often, it is easy to attribute failure to the tech-platform alone. So, change management is a key part of a successful implementation and is often no given enough attention.
Devadas Nair, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Shoppers Stop, enlists below some of the challenges:
• Lack of skilled resources in SCM operations, which is delaying the implementation, also prone to errors.
• Cost pressure resulting in trimming down support functions due to which companies compromise with best of technology tools / support functions.
• Very few organizations have adopted best of technologies, so having technological collaboration with all business partners is still far away. Legacy systems restrict flexibility of cutting edge, new age tools.
• Lack of industry specific common technology solution, which will help Trade Suppliers, Retailers, Logistic Partners to seamlessly exchange data with each other.
Many ‘Digital Transformation experts’ use the terms digitization, digitalization and digital transformation interchangeably. However, they have distinct meanings. They can be treated as steps in a process, starting with a literal conversion and ending with the creation of new digital capabilities, as highlighted by Kumar Singh, Senior Data Science Consultant, Supply Chain & Operations, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), below:
Step 1: Digitization is the first stage where you convert your analog/manual processes into digital ones. This is where digital Supply Chain journey starts, with a basic switch. You could, for instance, incorporate automation by investing in Transportation Management software (TMS). This is often the most costly and time-consuming part of digital procurement. This is also the most critical and will form the foundation of your Digital Journey.
Step 2: Digitalization refers to the use of active digital supply chain processes with some human intervention. At this stage, you have made the switch to Digital and have started using it in your day to day operations, and it should be having an impact on operations. An example of digitalization is when your TMS system is taking data directly from a data lake in an automated way and populating the output in a dispatching template.
Step 3: Digital transformation happens at the third stage and is a scenario where a company has invested heavily in digital technologies and there are minimal human intervention points. An example will be an end to end automated state where the flow of data from order management system to TMS and other planning systems is completely automated. Human role is to monitor the Supply Chain and intervene when required.
Before implementing any technology solution, Bharat Ramanath asserts, “Understand where you are today and the limitations on business that your current state imposes. Just because a digital initiative worked for somebody else does not mean it is the ‘right’ solution for you. Be careful of others claims and make honest, independent assessments of meaningful solutions. Your business needs can keep evolving, so can your capabilities (technology, operations etc.). The same holds true for your vendors and customers too. Supply Chain is an inherently collaborative process.”
Saurabh Daga also reiterates the fact and says that we first need to understand what digital transformation of supply chain is and how is it different than implementing a technology solution:
- Digital Transformation of supply chain is all about connecting your customers, markets, suppliers, and internal processes and people with digital technologies that give organizations a whole new set of super-powers in operating their business
• Super Visibility - see risks and opportunities earlier
• Super Intelligence - knowledge-driven algorithms
• Super Processes - collaboration, decision making and execution
• Super Productivity - automation, digital assistants.
- Companies need to be very clear on what the above means for their business and then select a partner that brings all of these in a single platform. The selection process needs to change from traditional RFP/RFQ to pilots and rollouts to enable quicker time to value.
For Rahul Gupta, things to keep in mind while going for digital transformation in procurement are:
Structured roadmap: Defining a structured roadmap with clear deliverables from technology adoption is the key. This involves having the right people, culture, processes and technology, and a unique way to deliver the desired goal for the enterprise.
Procurement roles and capabilities: The organizations who are on their digital transformation journey require more data scientists and category managers with digital capabilities, along with building a culture of a digital organization with the recruitment of specialist profiles.
Focus on Data Quality and Analytics: Quality of underlying data is crucial. If the supply chain of the future is built on a platform of digitally connected data, our analytics, insights, and success will be only as good as the foundation of data upon which they are built.
Cybersecurity and compliance: Information security and cybersecurity become critical in a well-connected supply chain. It is crucial to ensure that the transactions are safe and secure, customer privacy is maintained, regulatory and sovereignty requirements are adhered to, and partners (employees, customers, and suppliers) feel safe working with the organization.
The next gen supply chain is not a chain, but a smart, connected and open supply network, that gives companies the agility to respond quickly to evolving market demands and the ability to scale for business growth. There will be no more silos, and this network will combine information from a variety of physical and digital sources to improve operational performance and manage priorities.
Manav Verma avows, “In order to be effective, the next-gen supply chain should be able to tackle challenges of time, distance and cost. While time and distance gaps can be met with innovative technologies, the cost part is where we need to effectively align technology with human functions. In that sense, it can be a great hybrid of technology and manpower.”
The supply chain of the future must be more automated, more integrated, more intelligent and more efficient than what it is today. Technology has expanded exponentially, mandating the organizations to leverage these technologies to modernize and future-proof their supply chains for disruptive performance. Evolving to a data-driven digital supply chain to improve productivity will strengthen the bottom line as well as the top line. The next-gen manufacturing supply chain should primarily focus on the following, as shared by Rahul Gupta:
Zero length supply chain: Zero length supply chain is powered by smart warehousing, predictive shipping, drones, self-driving trucks, and uberization. While the distribution is in process, the shipment can be rerouted to the right customer destination.
Real-time re-planning based on real-time information: Data visibility is giving companies the insight needed to operate effectively and quicker than ever before. The waiting process until the end of the month to review the effectiveness of sales and operations planning will be eliminated. Advanced forecasting approaches will form the basis of such granular, faster and precise judgments. Forecasts will exactly replicate on-the-spot market situations without any lag, with fast moving products being forecasted daily & supply chain decisions being carried out basis live scenarios on the field. At Amway, we have a live dashboard system that publishes daily POS data to direct sellers and internal Amway teams. This helps us in capturing real-time on-ground information from both front end and back end, resulting in relevant on-the-spot decisions.
AI and Blockchain for contracting and bidding: Blockchain would verify and certify the existing documents, history of modifications, and versions that will allow procurement and legal departments to have what we call Secure Contracts. AI can aid in e-bidding of tenders or relocating supply sources basis requirements and assigning purchase orders through a smart selection of suppliers from the global list.
For Devadas Nair, the new age supply chain would have the following aspects:
• Automated planning, IoT sensor-based movement tracking, robotic warehouse operations and autonomous delivery mechanisms form the core backbone of a futuristic Supply Chain environment.
• Advanced automation.
• Hands free scanners / Smart Glasses.
• Advanced systems with end to end supply chain collaborations (Data Driven) with all business partners including Trade Vendors, Retailers, Logistics players and Retail outlets. Which will result in absolute faster replenishment.
• Robotic last mile for order fulfilment for end customers in forms of technologies like Drones.
• RFID enabled product and services for absolute accurate and faster Transaction processing between all SCM stakeholders.
• Driverless fast and economical Road Transportation, Dynamic and predictive routing to avoid delays.
• Advance Supplier Collaboration which includes, Analytical driven sourcing, Asset sharing, Cloud optimization, Proactive quality sensing.
Being truly optimistic and gearing up for growth, Siddaraju H.V., concludes, “Traditional Supply Chains are more developed based on experience. Modern supply chains are more structured, organized and developed to scale. The fact that Supply Chain is inducted as a core stream in many Management Schools signifies the impending change that people join Supply Chain Function with a structured knowledge of tools and applications, unlike classical approach that run through their experience. With the advent of investment into supply chain services sector, the expertise is getting attracted which will lead to core-competency development. Like in developed nations, Supply Chain as a function will be outsourced and managed by professionals. Next Gen Supply Chains will be tech-enabled, organized and scalable.”
Each day, it’s becoming more evident that business processes will soon be primarily technology driven and that technological trends will impact different sectors of manufacturing and supply chain management. A look at the defining megatrends that the supply chain industry will witness in the years to come…
Manav Verma, Chief Marketing Officer, DHL SmarTrucking India Ltd.
Technology can help the Indian trucking sector evolve in several ways – by improving efficiency through accurate deployment of truck resources, shortening transit times, ensuring safety of the goods and providing complete visibility into the whereabouts of the goods as they move.
Key trends include Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, cloud computing, blockchain and automation. For example, IoT is instrumental in connecting all components of a supply chain and communicating critical data in a timely manner. Data analytics helps in efficient planning and forecasting, while blockchain can help bring reliability and security to the transport of temperature-sensitive cargo. Automation can help in speeding up the entire supply chain process, eliminating repetitive or hazardous work for humans and freeing them up for more complex tasks.
True to its value of customer-centricity, DHL SmarTrucking leverages relevant technological trends, including IoT, Big Data and more, to provide a seamless and exceptional experience to its customers. We provide businesses with complete visibility into the transport process, offering better-than-industry-standards delivery and transit times, and continuous real-time shipment tracking.
Siddaraju H.V., Co-Founder & CEO, Caliper Business Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
There are three megatrends, which will shape the future of supply chain in the country. Firstly, companies will move towards digitization and integrate end-to-end transaction on a single thread. Secondly, they would build IoT, Big Data analytics, ML & AI Capabilities. Thirdly, it’s all about implementing state-of-the-art interactive ‘Supply Chain Control Tower’ to balance the flow across the chain.
Rahul Gupta, Vice President – Procurement & Planning, Amway India
There are several megatrends, which have a substantial influence on supply chain management. There is a continuing growth of rural areas worldwide with wealth shifting into regions that have not been served before. Online trend of the last years has led to improved service expectations. Some of the trends that the industry needs to follow are:
Supplier partnership & continuous improvement: Strong relationship with a few strategic partners will be more likely to be an extension of the company’s manufacturing or product design and development processes. Virtual Supplier Room will serve as a virtual central gathering place for collaboration and information sharing.
Big Data: Big data will help in driving predictive analysis and forecasting. Procurement decisions will be taken based on data, whereas intelligent forecasting will be based on market trends and knowing the right time to take risks and seize the opportunities. At Amway, our commodity forecasting process helps us to track the real-time scenarios with adequate extrapolation in the future for cognitive decision making.
Connected Objects: Procurement and supply chain could benefit significantly from IOT-enabled devices to manage monitoring and re-ordering of stock. This can be achieved by leveraging available data instead of instinctive decisions for assembly line replenishment, distribution planning, etc.
Cognitive Analytics: The objective is to train the technology to mimic and replace human decisions leveraging the learnings from historical data and corresponding human decisions. Machine learning and artificial intelligence fall into this category of analytics. At Amway, we foresee that the future area of development will focus more on cognitive analytics and will provide considerable benefits to the business by reducing human touch points while keeping decisions as rational and close to human experiences.
Manjunath SR, Senior Director, Industrial Supply Chain Consulting, JLL India
Following trends are evolving to meet customer expectations:
Tech savvy customers: Millennials and Gen-Z consumers have radically higher expectations. The first generation to grow up with the Internet and cellular technology, these tech-savvy customers make full use of mobile and social media platforms to research, buy and critique the products they purchase. These new generations also expect greater control to personalize the goods and services they order, and to see those products delivered within diminishing timeframes.
Micro-logistics: These networks support retailers Omni-channel efforts and involve setting up multiple, localized nodes (e.g., small regional distribution centres) that are geographically closer to various customer groups. This localization allows businesses to provide better service and customer experiences overall – via reduced costs and better inventory control.
Flexible strategies: Customers are increasingly demanding customized products. Because of this, manufacturers need to shift their focus from mass production to mass customization, without affecting the speed of delivery. Thus, manufacturing will become flexible and employ modern-day technologies like robotics, 3D printing and cognitive computing that includes self-learning systems such as pattern recognition, data mining and language processing.
Robotics: Robotics will play an increasingly substantial role within manufacturing facilities in the near future. The usability and capabilities of robots and other autonomous guided vehicles continues to improve. Due to their increased and improved usability, approximately 80% of manufacturers in the next couple of years will reconsider if they want to use robots and automation technologies in their warehouses and manufacturing facilities.
Being proactive is imperative to corporate survival and profitability as markets, technology and supply chains shift and how they adapt to each of these specific scenarios is interesting to watch. Smart companies are taking a holistic, total Value Optimization approach to assessing their end-to-end supply chain.
ASR Prasad, VP and Head Centre of Excellence, Future Supply Chain Solutions
Digitization and automation will offer significant opportunities. Digitization is a vast area and as processes move from offline to online, the ability to monitor and course correct would be a critical opportunity. Workflow digitization has tremendous untapped benefits as of now. Also, automation opportunities are triggered where volumes are significant.
The trends to watch closely are AI and Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT and Big Data. Supply chain solutions will start integrating them as the processing speed increases and the data becomes uber fast. This will result in control towers, which are likely to help drive faster assimilation of data to give decision making templates for organizations to consume and act upon.
Saurabh Daga, Director, Business Development, o9 Solutions
We do not anticipate much difference between an autonomous car and autonomous supply chain which will define the future of integrated planning and operations for large organizations. Digital Technologies are replacing old traditional legacy systems, leading companies are embracing these innovations while others are waiting and watching. The speed of change is so fast that if companies do not start thinking and experimenting, they run a huge risk of being disrupted. Moreover, the user experience, finger-tip visibility, and AI powered apps that we are experiencing in our consumer lives is driving a lot of change how companies offer systems to the next generation workforce. Hence, the next gen supply chain would be digital – connected and a platform rather than modular systems running across various technologies and databases.
Bharat Ramanath, Director & Industry Principal, ShipX
Collaborative platforms that provide a single-source of truth to all players in the supply-chain, are here to stay. Increasingly, a design-cornerstone for well-designed platforms is also to build in enough execution capability to reduce the latency between actual on-field operations and the systemic data capture of the same. Thus, UX to encourage process-adoption by field staff, is becoming important. (Design principles from self-install and self-learn B2C Apps are starting to make an appearance in B2B Apps also)
‘Learnability’ of systems is a trend that will see some strong use-cases emerge. (Here, we are adopting a cautious approach. Just because of the hype around AI, ML etc., we anticipate that there will be several sub-optimal use cases implemented, but we understand the innate potential of these technologies and we expect a few ‘robust’ solutions around these, to see the light of day.)
Devadas Nair, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Shoppers Stop
Supply chain is going to witness many defining trends in the near future. Moreover, manufacturing, distribution, sourcing of materials, invoicing and returns have all been significantly impacted by the increased integration of a global customer and supplier base.
Additionally, over a period of time, companies have realized that there can be significant economic benefits drawn from outsourcing all or part of their supply chain operation, but only after the right systems, processes or organizational management structure are in place to mitigate the risk. Lastly, I believe there must be collaboration between stakeholders in the extended supply chain. The level of collaboration goes beyond linking information systems to fully integrating business processes and organization structures across companies that comprise the full value chain. The ultimate goal of collaboration should be to increase visibility throughout the value chain in an effort to make better management decisions and thereby decrease value chain costs.