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NextGen technologies: Building the supply chains of the future

A new crop of supply chain technologies promise to increase efficiency, visibility and speed. Five technologists share their vision of the future.

By ·

For several decades now, new technologies have been grafted onto the supply chain with varying degrees of success. Sure, some have had enormous impact. Just try to run any aspect of a supply chain without a computer today or to track inventory without the simple barcode. Others have failed to deliver on their promise. Remember when Walmart crowned radio frequency identification king?

Today, a new crop of NextGen technologies is sprouting across the supply chain. Artificial intelligence (AI), robots, blockchain, the physical Internet and the connected supply chain are part of the discussion. As with their predecessors, they too promise increased efficiency, visibility and speed. But no technology, no matter how advanced, exists without people. At least not yet. So, there’s also the matter of how people will collaborate with these new tools.

It’s also worth noting that none of these technologies is fully baked. Like those before them, tomorrow’s NextGen technologies will evolve in three stages.

The first is the “what’s possible” stage. That’s where most of what’s discussed in this article stands today. Next is the “probable use” stage. The third is the “prevalent use” stage. Those two are where many think the technologies discussed here are headed, but we aren’t there yet. It’s always worked that way in the past, despite our impatience to know the answers today. Now is no different.

This complete article is available to subscribers only. Log in now for full access or start your PLUS+ subscription for instant access.

By ·

For several decades now, new technologies have been grafted onto the supply chain with varying degrees of success. Sure, some have had enormous impact. Just try to run any aspect of a supply chain without a computer today or to track inventory without the simple barcode. Others have failed to deliver on their promise. Remember when Walmart crowned radio frequency identification king?

Today, a new crop of NextGen technologies is sprouting across the supply chain. Artificial intelligence (AI), robots, blockchain, the physical Internet and the connected supply chain are part of the discussion. As with their predecessors, they too promise increased efficiency, visibility and speed. But no technology, no matter how advanced, exists without people. At least not yet. So, there’s also the matter of how people will collaborate with these new tools.

It’s also worth noting that none of these technologies is fully baked. Like those before them, tomorrow’s NextGen technologies will evolve in three stages.

The first is the “what’s possible” stage. That’s where most of what’s discussed in this article stands today. Next is the “probable use” stage. The third is the “prevalent use” stage. Those two are where many think the technologies discussed here are headed, but we aren’t there yet. It’s always worked that way in the past, despite our impatience to know the answers today. Now is no different.

 


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From the September-October 2018
This month’s issue will help you in your job of staying ahead of the pack, following the leaders and, with luck, blazing the next trail.
The 2018 Supply Chain Top 25: Follow the leaders
NextGen technologies: Building the supply chains of the future
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