Few if any pundits deny we live in the Digital Age. It makes sense, therefore, that to thrive in this era supply chains need to take advantage of emerging technologies that leverage available data. In this article, I will focus on trends and predictions associated with digital supply chain transformation.
Business leaders are always looking for the next big thing. One of those things might be blockchain technology. Thomas Cherian explains, “A blockchain is a distributed public ledger for carrying out transactions in a trusted environment. … The network of computers uses cryptography to allow each participant in the open-source network to update the ledger in a secure manner, without the need of a central authority.
This past holiday season, like the season before it, was a paradox. Consumer spending was up; nevertheless, hundreds of retail stores will be shuttering their doors forever. The paradox is explained by the fact that sales in brick-and-mortar stores is rising much slower than online sales. It would be wrong to conclude that traditional stores are dying altogether. Both Amazon and Alibaba are opening brick-and-mortar stores. The bottom line is omnichannel operations are the new normal; nevertheless, store closures point to the fact that omnichannel operations are not easy to master.
Corporate social responsibility is an interesting topic. Skeptics dismiss the topic as a corporate public relations stunt and some investors see it as pit into which resources are poured without any noticeable return. There are reasons to be skeptical. In the past, corporations have been notoriously exploitative and the result has been the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor. Corporations have been slow learners. I believe, however, there are good reasons to be sanguine about the future.
No one doubts we are fully immersed in the Age of Information. A few years ago, David Russell Schilling (@davidrschilling) reported, "Buckminster Fuller created the 'Knowledge Doubling Curve'; he noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth.
In an Amazon-dominated world, blockchain provides brands with paths to both partner more effectively with retailers and, more importantly, to sell directly to consumers.
For brands, blockchain is a big deal.
Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is a big field which includes things like cognitive computing and machine learning and the hype about AI seems to grow each year. Chris Brandt explains, "There are two very popular words in science and technology nowadays — artificial intelligence and machine learning. For a lot of people who might not be aware of the difference, they are just the same. It might come, therefore, as a surprise that these two are different.
One hundred percent of businesses are concerned about the possibility of a disruption in their supply chain; yet, 40% of "companies do not analyze the source of the disruption, according to the Supply Chain Resilience Report 2016 by Business Continuity Institute and Zurich Insurance Group." With 70% of businesses experiencing some sort of disruption last year, the fact that 2 out of 5 businesses don't have a deeper understandi
Over a dozen years ago, Steven Spielberg’s movie Minority Report introduced viewers to a future in which marketing and advertising is so interactive that personalized sales pitches are aimed at potential customers as they walk through a mall. The film was set in the year 2054. A lot has changed since the film was released including the decline of malls and the rise of e-commerce. One prediction the film got right was the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the marketing field.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is attracting a lot of attention both for its ability to generate great efficiency as well as the peril it represents to numerous jobs. Leslie Willcocks, a professor of technology, work, and globalization at the London School of Economics, defines RPA as taking "the robot out of the human." She explains, "The average knowledge worker employed on a back-office process has a lot of repetitive, routine tasks that are dreary and uninteresting. RPA is a type of software that mimics the activity of a human being in carrying out a task within a process.
Yesterday, I facilitated a group of business leaders attempting to drive innovation in supply chain practices. The last five years were tough for the group. With five serial years of Draconian cost-cutting efforts and downsizing, the team has been heads-down trying to survive. For many years, the focus was overcoming day-to-day hurdles. In addition, the company, for the first time in a decade, is struggling to grow. As a result, there has been little time for conferences, external training, or educational forums.
You hear and read a lot about the importance of manufacturing for ensuring a healthy U.S. economy. I agree with that assessment. There is good news on that front.
When I joined the world of software as a business analyst from manufacturing, I was naive. How so? I never fathomed the amount of money that commissioned software sales personnel make selling software. This high level of compensation drives extreme behavior.
There seems to be a growing consensus among business analysts that organizations organized around principles developed during the industrial age must transform into digital enterprises to survive in the Information Age. Former IBM executive Irving Wladawsky-Berger notes, "Firms came into being to make it easier and less costly to get work done." That objective has not changed; but the means for achieving it have.