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10 Trends for the Next 10 Years

What trends will affect the next generation of supply chains? That’s a question more and more SCM professionals are asking themselves. The 10 trends offered here are validated with executive input from senior executives across different industries. By understanding, anticipating, and acting upon these trends, the author believes companies can greatly enhance the value of their supply chain operations.

By ·

Recently, I happened to be perusing the aisle of a bookstore (there are still a few of them left) and found a book by Pavan Sukhdev titled Corporation 2020. The title was intriguing and the contents were illuminating. Basically, the author argued for a new formula for business success going forward—one that looked at all aspects of doing business and emphasized the corporation’s responsibility to society and to sustainability.

The forward-looking nature of Sukhdev’s book set the wheels in motion for this article. Quite a bit has been written over the years about the future of supply chains. MIT’s SCM 2020 project, for example, bought together leading thinkers and practitioners to address the subject. However, this research and most of the articles I have read on the topic have focused on supply chain operations and not so much on the points of “intersection”—that is, the related activities that are outside of the supply chain’s direct control such as R&D, information technology, and post-sales service. In my list of the top trends, I have incorporated a number of these intersection points.

As we think about the major trends that will affect the next generation of supply chains, we need to consider certain macroeconomic factors. Prominent among these is the changing global economic demographics. Walk into any multinational consumer goods or manufacturing company today and you’re sure to hear a lot of discussion about the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) markets. The GDP growth in those countries far exceeds the growth in more fully developed economies. Further, the sheer number of consumers in these countries already accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s population. And by 2050, their combined economies are expected to eclipse that of the world’s richest countries—including the U.S. and European Union.

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Recently, I happened to be perusing the aisle of a bookstore (there are still a few of them left) and found a book by Pavan Sukhdev titled Corporation 2020. The title was intriguing and the contents were illuminating. Basically, the author argued for a new formula for business success going forward—one that looked at all aspects of doing business and emphasized the corporation’s responsibility to society and to sustainability.

The forward-looking nature of Sukhdev’s book set the wheels in motion for this article. Quite a bit has been written over the years about the future of supply chains. MIT’s SCM 2020 project, for example, bought together leading thinkers and practitioners to address the subject. However, this research and most of the articles I have read on the topic have focused on supply chain operations and not so much on the points of “intersection”—that is, the related activities that are outside of the supply chain’s direct control such as R&D, information technology, and post-sales service. In my list of the top trends, I have incorporated a number of these intersection points.

As we think about the major trends that will affect the next generation of supply chains, we need to consider certain macroeconomic factors. Prominent among these is the changing global economic demographics. Walk into any multinational consumer goods or manufacturing company today and you’re sure to hear a lot of discussion about the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) markets. The GDP growth in those countries far exceeds the growth in more fully developed economies. Further, the sheer number of consumers in these countries already accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s population. And by 2050, their combined economies are expected to eclipse that of the world’s richest countries—including the U.S. and European Union.

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