According to an article written by Harvard Business Review, new digital technologies that have the potential to take over supply chain management entirely are disrupting traditional ways of working.
The authors contend that within five to ten years, the supply chain function may no longer be relevant as it gets replaced by process automation, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and robotics.
With digital foundations in place, companies can now capture, analyse, integrate, easily access, and interpret high quality, real-time data. This has led to many companies using robotics or artificial intelligence to automate labor-intensive, repetitive tasks and processes such as purchasing, invoicing, accounts payable, and parts of customer service.
What companies are exploring now are digital control towers, which is a virtual decision center that provides real-time, end-to-end visibility into global supply chains. It is a physical room which contains a team of data analysts that work 24/7, monitoring every step of the supply chain from order to delivery.
For retail companies, this technology means monitors that would give a visual warning of any inventory shortfalls or process bottlenecks before they happen. This would allow the team to take action before the problem occurs.
Real-time data, unquestioned accuracy, relentless customer focus, process excellence, and analytical leadership underlie the control tower operations of these retail operations.
For industrial companies, the control tower warns for potential supply issues as they arise, calculates the effects of the problem, and either automatically corrects the issue using pre-determined actions or flags it for the escalation team.
The authors claim that there is a clear trend of technology replacing and doing a better job in supply chain management than people. In the near future, supply chain executives who can analyse data, use digital tools and algorithms, and forecast effectively will be in high demand.
Looking further out, specialists who can design technology-driven supply chain that can adapt to the ever-changing world would be highly useful.