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Here’s what I’m intrigued by in 2024

The supply chain could undergo significant change this year as we adapt to the new normal.

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This is an excerpt of the original article. It was written for the January-February 2024 edition of Supply Chain Management Review. The full article is available to current subscribers.

January-February 2024

Back in 2019, we seemed on a consistent path to the future. Then COVID-19 arrived on the global scene, and all predictions went out the window. As 2024 begins, everyone wants to know what the year will look like. I predict continued interest in circular supply chains, cybersecurity, visibility, and digital supply chains, to name a few. But I am not alone. So, I’d like to share five things that I am particularly interested in this year.
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Back in 2019, we seemed on a consistent path to the future. Then COVID-19 arrived on the global scene, and all predictions went out the window. As 2024 begins, everyone wants to know what the year will look like. I predict continued interest in circular supply chains, cybersecurity, visibility, digital supply chains, to name a few. But I am not alone.

So, I’d like to share five things that I am particularly interested in this year.

  1. The year of omni-channel. Prior to COVID-19, e-commerce was on a steady growth path. Then the pandemic hit and it exploded. Last year it come back to earth, falling back to pre-COVID growth levels. In Q3 2023, e-commerce accounted for 15.6% of retail sales according to the Census Bureau. Where will it go in 2024? Growth is still on the table, but the bigger question is: What will it do to fulfillment? Businesses are now filling orders from warehouses, microfacilities, stores, and maybe even a few kitchen tables. I think 2024 is the year we finally see major progress on the inventory visibility front and as an industry get clarity on what omni-channel should look like going forward.
  2. Material shortages will remain. The past two years have been met with product and material shortages. Baby formula. Semiconductors. Medications. Rice. Raw minerals. While we seem to have mostly recovered, periodic shortages still pop up. What will it be in 2024? I don’t know, but if you are looking for one possibility, Deloitte is suggesting that supplies of gallium (which is used in the production of … semiconductors among other items) could be an issue.
  3. Analytics will start to leave their silos. There is more data in supply chains than ever before, but as an industry we have not been very good at using or sharing that data. With continued emphasis on more efficient supply chains, data sharing must take place across departments and partners and I think we finally see some real progress on that front in 2024.
  4. Artificial intelligence hits its stride—and a few major concerns. Everyone is intrigued by artificial intelligence, and we are just beginning to learn how to leverage it. Generative AI offers worlds of potential, and while I think the supply chain will continue to learn how to effectively use it, Gen AI is still only as good as the data it pulls from. I expect we will hear a story of two about a company that used bad data sets and ended up with a disastrous result.
  5. Geopolitics reshape the supply chain. Wars (Ukraine and Russia; Israel and Hamas), trade tensions with China, and a presidential election are just a few of the items that could disrupt supply chains in 2024. We will have to wait to see how these turn out, but proactive supply chains are already preparing. We thought nearshoring and reshoring was big in 2023, just wait.

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MR

Sorry, but your login has failed. Please recheck your login information and resubmit. If your subscription has expired, renew here.

From the January-February 2024 edition of Supply Chain Management Review.

January-February 2024

Back in 2019, we seemed on a consistent path to the future. Then COVID-19 arrived on the global scene, and all predictions went out the window. As 2024 begins, everyone wants to know what the year will look like. I…
Browse this issue archive.
Access your online digital edition.
Download a PDF file of the January-February 2024 issue.

Back in 2019, we seemed on a consistent path to the future. Then COVID-19 arrived on the global scene, and all predictions went out the window. As 2024 begins, everyone wants to know what the year will look like. I predict continued interest in circular supply chains, cybersecurity, visibility, digital supply chains, to name a few. But I am not alone.

So, I’d like to share five things that I am particularly interested in this year.

  1. The year of omni-channel. Prior to COVID-19, e-commerce was on a steady growth path. Then the pandemic hit and it exploded. Last year it come back to earth, falling back to pre-COVID growth levels. In Q3 2023, e-commerce accounted for 15.6% of retail sales according to the Census Bureau. Where will it go in 2024? Growth is still on the table, but the bigger question is: What will it do to fulfillment? Businesses are now filling orders from warehouses, microfacilities, stores, and maybe even a few kitchen tables. I think 2024 is the year we finally see major progress on the inventory visibility front and as an industry get clarity on what omni-channel should look like going forward.
  2. Material shortages will remain. The past two years have been met with product and material shortages. Baby formula. Semiconductors. Medications. Rice. Raw minerals. While we seem to have mostly recovered, periodic shortages still pop up. What will it be in 2024? I don’t know, but if you are looking for one possibility, Deloitte is suggesting that supplies of gallium (which is used in the production of … semiconductors among other items) could be an issue.
  3. Analytics will start to leave their silos. There is more data in supply chains than ever before, but as an industry we have not been very good at using or sharing that data. With continued emphasis on more efficient supply chains, data sharing must take place across departments and partners and I think we finally see some real progress on that front in 2024.
  4. Artificial intelligence hits its stride—and a few major concerns. Everyone is intrigued by artificial intelligence, and we are just beginning to learn how to leverage it. Generative AI offers worlds of potential, and while I think the supply chain will continue to learn how to effectively use it, Gen AI is still only as good as the data it pulls from. I expect we will hear a story of two about a company that used bad data sets and ended up with a disastrous result.
  5. Geopolitics reshape the supply chain. Wars (Ukraine and Russia; Israel and Hamas), trade tensions with China, and a presidential election are just a few of the items that could disrupt supply chains in 2024. We will have to wait to see how these turn out, but proactive supply chains are already preparing. We thought nearshoring and reshoring was big in 2023, just wait.

SC
MR

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About the Author

Brian Straight, SCMR Editor in Chief
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Brian Straight is the Editor in Chief of Supply Chain Management Review. He has covered trucking, logistics and the broader supply chain for more than 15 years. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children. He can be reached at [email protected], @TruckingTalk, on LinkedIn, or by phone at 774-440-3870.

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