The Future of Supply Chain: It’s Time to Start Managing Supply Chains for the Future, Not the Past

The future of supply chain management is filled with technologically empowered, happy, satisfied workers, faster workflows, synchronous systems, robotics, millennials, and even more millennials. Can you imagine it? Are you ready?
Supply chain managers face many challenges in the digital age. E-commerce is growing at an annual compound rate of 18%, and tomorrow’s workforce has unique and experience-centric expectations. Growth in the supply chain requires an understanding of today’s technologies and a clear strategy for overcoming obstacles and bringing systems together.

What’s Keeping Businesses From Preparing for the Future of Supply Chain Management?

Fear of Implementing New Technology

Fear and unexpected costs are the key factors affecting supply chain leaders’ decision to keep the status quo. Businesses can no longer operate and stay competitive without implementing new, advanced technologies.

New technologies, such as the implementation of a warehouse management system, will increase the desire to integrate disparate data and systems in warehouse management. Although any implementation increases business risk, risks are not necessarily dangerous. The opportunities and potential threats from artificial intelligence, Big Data, machine-to-machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), and software-as-a-service (SaaS) can bring significant efficiency and productivity to your operation. Since the omnichannel supply chain requires integrated systems, supply chain managers must look for ways to stay competitive with the dominant players in e-commerce, like Amazon, Target, and Walmart.

The Supply Chain Talent Gap

The supply chain talent gap is also contributing to problems in the push toward new technologies. Companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find in-house technology expertise that not only understands how to develop systems that match requirements set forth by leadership’s response to consumer and market feedback but also finding talent that has an intimate understanding of supply chain processes. Why is it essential for supply chain talent to have both? It ties back to user experience. Leaders and executives may worry about possible backlash following changing user interfaces or new processes that don’t align with real-world processes. Perhaps solving this problem comes from the implementation of a team that can act as a bridge: a change management team.

How to Plan for Big Changes Coming to the Supply Chain Today

Planning for the changes happening in the supply chain will involve the creation and use of a change management team. The team is responsible for overseeing all changes to business processes, and this team will be a recurring factor in deciding how to prepare for the future of supply chain management.

Managers can follow these steps, as explained by Forbes magazine, to streamline preparation for future technologies.

  • Identify all potential scenarios for future changes in your organization.
  • Create and define the steps necessary to accommodate changes in business processes.
  • Develop contingency plans for follow-through if changes take longer than necessary.
  • Bring disjointed systems together.

Management system convergence, or bringing warehouse management and other supply chain systems together, will continue to define the current and future state of supply chains. At times, instead of spending hours waiting for the right talent or technology expertise in-house, your organization may need to consider outsourcing non-core business processes and vital supply chain functions to stay competitive.

Regardless if you hire an outside technology expert to aid in the implementation of new supply chain technology or modifications of existing systems, keeping the talent gap in mind, supply chain leaders must also take steps to attract and retain the right talent as well. Up to one in three Americans falls in the millennial generation, and as a result, supply chain leaders must take a few extra steps, reports Supply Chain 24/7, to help attract and retain millennials to combat the talent shortage.

  • Create a consumer- and worker-centric environment.
  • Offer opportunities for career advancement and personal development.
  • Reduce risks to safety and health.
  • Using technology to transform supply chain stereotypes.

Businesses Planning for Success in the Future

The future of supply chain management can be summed up as clean, crisp, efficient, safe, technology-based, exciting, emotionally and physically fulfilling, and evolving.

The warehouses of the future will have a strong focus on technology-driven business strategy, and supply chain leaders must become more involved in all aspects of the utilization of technology and the talent that will implement, maintain, and foster adoption of technology. System isolation must be extinct, and every part of the supply chain functions as a cohesive unit, with a system of continuous checks and balances against the remaining pieces of the supply chain. Being the best at one part of supply chain management is no longer effective. Preparing for the future of the supply chain is simply about preparing for the future of consumer and employee needs.

Find out how your organization can plan for the future of supply chain action and management now. Schedule a consultation by clicking the button below to start the conversation today with Veridian and discover how your company can succeed in future supply chain management. While you are at it, please download our brand new white paper titled, “The Amazon Effect” today.