Supply Chains Year in Review 2018

Author: Rene Garcia


Balancing global supply chains against constantly shifting geopolitical forces, short delivery times, and ever-increasing sustainability expectations is a delicate process. Despite that, supply chains get the job done but not without their share of challenges and discoveries. As 2019 ramps up, it’s worth reviewing what happened last year and where the industry is headed.

Biggest Supply Chain Challenges

According to research and reports on supply chains throughout last year, the following are the biggest areas of opportunity listed by percentage:

  1. Supply chain visibility 21.1%
  2. Fluctuating consumer demand 19.7%
  3. Inventory management 13.2%
  4. Coordinating operations across multiple sales channels 11.8%
  5. Available talent 9.2%
  6. Keeping pace with technology 6.6%
  7. Sourcing 5.3%
  8. Sustainability 5.3%
  9. Manufacturing 4.0%
  10. Data management 1.3%
  11. Other 2.6%

Looking at this list, it’s easy to see how technology could be used to solve many of these challenges. Avetta’s cloud-based risk management solutions for example significantly increase supply chain visibility, and take the guesswork out of sourcing reputable vendors, suppliers, and contractors. Companies have the peace of mind in being able to vet their potential partners’ credentials, certifications, reputation, and more; giving them the necessary visibility to identify and mitigate risk.

Best Performing Disruptive Technologies

  1. Artificial Intelligence 34%
  2. Internet of Things 28%
  3. Robotic Process Automation 12%
  4. Blockchain 9%
  5. Other 18%

The top three items on the list are not surprising considering that they have overlapping use cases. Artificial intelligence can help predict logistical timings, shrinking downtime and/or inventory warehousing. AI can also help drive the Internet of Things software and appliances, responding to requests automatically instead of waiting for a human. Furthermore, as available talent continues to be a challenge in a booming economy, more automation robots will need AI to coordinate them efficiently.

What is surprising, however, is that blockchain appears to have such little adoption. Not only should blockchain be more popular considering the meteoric rise of cryptocurrency in recent years, but blockchain would also help to alleviate the number one challenge of supply chains: visibility. Not only would the entire supply chain be made aware instantly of a disruption, but it would also allow for traceability of goods. The latter has proven important in industries like groceries where tracking contaminated food is paramount. According to supply chain reports in 2018, only 8% of organizations responded as having performed blockchain proof of concepts while 24% responded that they were thinking about it.

Looking Forward in 2019

Managing the complexity of supply chains is difficult, and it’s obvious that companies are leveraging technology to reduce complexity and drive transformation. How do your organization’s challenges align with other supply chains? Is visibility an issue? Are you using supply chain management software to vet suppliers and reduce risk? If not, then it’s time to invest in your future. See how Avetta’s Supply Chain Software can make 2019 the best year for your company yet.

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