#54-Digitization and Supply Chain Excellence- Top 14 technologies for the 2020s


Sidhartha Sharma- Author and Digital Expert

Supply chain excellence is imperative for both retail and e-commerce driven businesses. As long as goods have to be moved from one point to another (read eternity), supply chains will exist.

What are the technologies that are disrupting Supply Chain?

  1. Vendor and procurement marketplaces: Standard raw materials needed for production must be available on-demand via the online procurement (B2B) marketplaces.
  2. Digital Freight Forwarding and matching- SAAS platforms that help matching of the shippers and the carriers ( ship containers, planes, and truck fleet owners). Value-added services like analytics-based insights can also be provided on such platforms as a one-stop solution.
  3. Supply Chain real-time monitoring platforms- By 2025–2030, companies and customers would like to monitor/track the goods (raw or finished) on a real-time basis, with the press of a button. Smart-camera networks and IoT can ensure that the tracking is visually enriched. This could even solve the problem of counterfeit and theft in the procurement/finished/luxury goods supply chain.
  4. Predictive inventory management software and systems- Systems that tell the business, how much they need to stock in inventory and in which region. Based on insights, future and seasonal demand can be forecasted in an accurate manner.
  5. Blockchain in Shipping documents and source tracking- Tracking the source of the raw materials, and the contributors in the entire supply chain matters (which country, how were they procured, middlemen, child labor, and other compliance issues). Blockchain (distributed ledger system)can transform shipping and international trade by simplifying the paperwork- bills of lading, LC, sales contracts, charter party contracts, port documents. Public-private keys to execute trade transactions and storing sensitive information in an encrypted manner.

According to maritime executive report- “By way of illustration, a seafood container export from Vietnam to U.S. has more than 30 shipping milestones and shipment data at more than 10 relevant entities with requirement of close tracking. When the cargo data is transparent . . . real-time information sharing at different stages by different entities in global supply chain will increase considerable efficiency for global trade flows,” said Nguyen Xuan Ky, Cái Mép International Terminal’s deputy general director.

6. IoT /Sensor-based fleet management- Cargo is shipped via rail, road, and ocean. IoT powered fleet has GPS, Cameras, communication, route optimization, satellite imagery, and AR/VR tutorials for maintenance, ensuring there are no delivery-related breakdowns.

7. Return and reverse logistics management software- e-commerce adoption rates and repeat purchases are also determined by the ease, speed, and customer-experience related to goods being returned. The logistics and other accounting systems should be updated and integrated with the returns management platforms and vice-versa.

8. On-demand warehouse, packaging, and fulfillment- Warehouses play a very crucial role in the success of both retail and e-commerce businesses. 3rd party fully automated warehouses that are available on-demand and offer value-added services will be even more popular in the future. Think of this like the ‘Airbnb’ model for logistics/cargo.

9. Last-mile delivery and crowdsourcing delivery- 85% of the delivery cost is related to the last-mile delivery. Companies like Nuro are working fast to automate last-mile delivery. Nuro is on the path to be California’s first driverless delivery service. A lot of ride-hailing companies have launched their own captive delivery units which are also being opened to other b2b partners.

10. Autonomous Truck- Adoption of 100% autonomous truck is still a few years away. However, this can significantly reduce the driver-dependence, optimize route and prevent fatigue-related events. The manpower needed for one single truck will also significantly go down. The pilots already gained a lot of publicity when Uber created history in 2016 by delivering 50,000 cans of Budweiser. However, later Uber shut down its autonomous truck division to focus on core mobility business. Volvo and Tesla are actively pursuing the technology — learn more about Volvo AT.

11. Delivery tracking and management software and platforms- Software to manage the delivery process end to end. API integration with 3rd party courier platforms. Real-time updates on order status and other delivery tracking logistics.

12. Trade and supply chain risk tracking platforms for cross border trade optimization- We all know how China-US trade war-related announcements and embargos shook even the world’ most well-managed supply chain. Platforms that can give real-time trade-related data-driven insights will be the key to minimizing risks (cost and legal exposure).

13. Geoanalytics and route optimization platforms: Core Routing Optimization Strategies have been used popularly- Static Routing, Dynamic Routing, and Real-time Dynamic Routing. Industries dependent on distant procurement, Mining heavy industries, and physical movement on goods use these a lot.

14. AI/ML models for supply chain excellence — Every company with a robust supply chain engine, must build AI models to understand the areas that need optimization.


Sidhartha Sharma

Views are personal (#saidbysid) #digitalplaybookbysidharthasharma



Sidhartha Sharma- Future of Tech, Digital & Data

~17+yrs Consulting- McKinsey & BCG-Digital Strategy, Ecosystems & Ventures | Start-Up Mentor | Platforms | Digital-First | Author & TEDx Speaker. Views Personal