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Disruptive Technologies Enabling Supply Chain Evolution

“The world is moving so fast now-a-days that the man who says it cannot be done is generally interrupted by someone else doing it.”

By ·

Those lines are as true today as when they were first published in the early 1900s. And it’s not just our every day worlds that appear to be evolving before our very eyes. Global supply chains are evolving at a faster rate than at any point in history. In the September 2015 issue of Supply Chain Management Review, I wrote about emerging markets, mega cities, millennial consumers, and e-commerce—the four global trends that supply chain executives must consider when designing their processes and networks (Four Compass Points for Global Supply Chain Management). Together, they form four interconnected points on the supply chain compass in response to the shifting demographics, markets, and economies that will impact where and how we manufacture and deliver goods to our customers.

As if those trends aren’t disruptive enough, the tools we rely on to manage distribution, manufacturing, networks, and data are also in the midst of a radical evolution. While distribution models formerly evolved slowly over decades or even centuries—as was the case in the move from horse-drawn carriages to trains to commercial trucks—these new technologies threaten to disrupt our field in compact time frames, ranging from years to mere months. In this fast-paced field, I believe supply chain managers must keep an eye on:
• three new tools and emerging technologies—drones, 3D printing, and cognitive calculation;
• how these technologies can disrupt current models in positive ways, and;
• how we must re-imagine our supply chains to harness new technologies to continue the evolution.

These will not be easy tasks. Let’s take a look at each of these emerging technologies through those lenses.

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By ·
Download Article PDF

Those lines are as true today as when they were first published in the early 1900s. And it’s not just our every day worlds that appear to be evolving before our very eyes. Global supply chains are evolving at a faster rate than at any point in history. In the September 2015 issue of Supply Chain Management Review, I wrote about emerging markets, mega cities, millennial consumers, and e-commerce—the four global trends that supply chain executives must consider when designing their processes and networks (Four Compass Points for Global Supply Chain Management). Together, they form four interconnected points on the supply chain compass in response to the shifting demographics, markets, and economies that will impact where and how we manufacture and deliver goods to our customers.

As if those trends aren’t disruptive enough, the tools we rely on to manage distribution, manufacturing, networks, and data are also in the midst of a radical evolution. While distribution models formerly evolved slowly over decades or even centuries—as was the case in the move from horse-drawn carriages to trains to commercial trucks—these new technologies threaten to disrupt our field in compact time frames, ranging from years to mere months. In this fast-paced field, I believe supply chain managers must keep an eye on:

  • three new tools and emerging technologies—drones, 3D printing, and cognitive calculation;

  • how these technologies can disrupt current models in positive ways, and;

  • how we must re-imagine our supply chains to harness new technologies to continue the evolution.

These will not be easy tasks. Let’s take a look at each of these emerging technologies through those lenses.

SUBSCRIBERS: Click here to download PDF of the full article.

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