8 technology trends your supply chain can incorporate
Technologies that give rise to innovation in supply chains in different industries have a positive impact on both the performance of companies, the professionals within them and their customers. In the current context, certain trends can be observed in technologies that have a particularly transformative potential, and that aim to drive the resilience and resistance of operations that is so necessary in this digitally interconnected world.
Key technology innovations that supply chains can incorporate in 2021 include the following:
Immersive experiences and applications.
In recent years, technologies such as Virtual Reality have been developing to stop being part of a niche. This type of innovation has the potential to radically influence how supply chains are managed, because it can provide safer working environments, reduce error rates at work, speed up repair times, improve collaboration between parties, and so on. The characteristic that implies a radical transformation is that they suggest new models of interaction throughout the product life cycle, and we are not only talking about interaction between humans, but also with machines, processes and applications. Those pioneering companies that are leading innovation are already incorporating this type of technology into their operations.
Artificial intelligence and embedded analytics
These two technologies are software functionalities that provide real-time reporting, interactive data visualization and analysis, and advanced intelligence in a business application. An example of how this can be applied in supply chains is in mobile robot controls, or intelligent robot systems as non-invasive technologies, especially useful in times of a pandemic that requires social distance. Warehouses can benefit from incorporating these technologies, which leverage embedded analytics to optimize operations.
These ecosystems consist of edge computing and data processing applications. Their main feature is that they enable those responsible for supply chain technology to reallocate and re-purpose large swaths of data processing capacity to the edges of enterprises, where decisions are made or produced. One example of how this technology can be used is to track and monitor temperature or other product condition requirements throughout various phases of the product life cycle.
Focus on Environment, Social and Governance (ESG)
Today's supply chains are interdependently connected, and organizations need technologies to track and mitigate the risks and impacts their operations have on the environment and society. This also relates to the need to maintain a good brand or company image, as not investing in tools and solutions that adapt to and address the impact they produce can change the perception of customer value. In addition, it can even have an impact on costs and availability of goods.
Global supply chains play a fundamental role in contributing to mapping and assessing risks and opportunities related to this issue. With new technologies, the origin of each product can be traced, for example, as in the case of palm oil or soybeans, and can be aligned with the company's biodiversity and climate change objectives.
This practice consists of extending the automation of business processes by combining technologies such as machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and robotic process automation (RPA). They combine in such a way that allows automating almost any task that is repetitive, and focuses on automating or facilitating tasks that originally require human action, through bots for example.
In the next decade, it will be a key part of digital transformation because it can replace human intervention in processes that have low value, to use more human resources in processes of more value to the business. Increasingly, companies will have to delegate decision-making authority to physical robots, software service assistants, intelligent applications, and so on.
The cybersecurity of supply chains has for quite some time been a major concern. Especially, the logistics industry is vulnerable to these attacks, as their interconnected nature between parts can have devastating consequences. Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, companies migrated to the cloud and intensified their digitization. Cyber-attacks can expose sensitive information of executives in their partners' supply chains, of software vendors, and generally involve massive losses of money.
Cybersecurity today brings together a broad approach that encompasses counterfeiting and cybercrime holistically across the entire supply chain, end-to-end. With many organizations aiming to become digitally connected networks, it can be anticipated that many technology solutions will emerge that bring security to supply chains.
Digital twin of the supply chain
The digital twin refers to a digital representation of the physical supply chain. These types of technologies allow predictive and simulation functions to be implemented, so that users can make better decisions. In order to fulfill this function, they combine real-time data, historical data, with techniques such as Machine Learning or advanced analytics. It can be considered as the basis for decision making in local or end-to-end processes, because it ensures that decisions are aligned horizontally and vertically across the network.
Augmented data intelligence
Companies that manage supply chains must constantly make decisions, and in general, they do not have all the information they need to make the right decisions. This is why they need solutions that help them increase the visibility they have over their chain and the processes that occur in it, so that the decisions made are based on reliable data that is not obsolete. Augmented data intelligence is a combination of several technologies. Together, they facilitate advanced data processing and provide enlightening information, predictions as well as suggestions.
Augmented data intelligence can be combined with existing business applications. This type of solution has the ability to collect data, view its correlation and analyze it to provide supply chain leaders with the information they need to make better decisions.
OMNIX is a SaaS platform that applies some of these technologies. It works by combining Artificial Intelligence with Machine Learning to fulfill different functions, such as visualizing and analyzing data about the operation in real time, and orchestrating decision making to automate processes and anticipate unforeseen events. Like many of the technological innovations that are trending in 2021, OMNIX maintains the operational continuity of companies and frees up the time of executives and professionals to focus on higher value tasks, instead of using it to solve problems manually.
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