CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
December 14, 2017
Supply Chain Executive Insight E-Newsletter
Each week the Supply Chain Executive Insight e-newsletter will include brief articles about developments that are often overlooked by other supply chain publications. We will present you with summaries of the latest research as well as new ideas on how to make your supply chain operations more effective. And we'll offer commentary that sheds light on what's happening in supply chains today.
Sign up now!

Most Read Articles

News from our sister publication
DC Velocity
Forward Thinking

Future supply chains could be smarter than their designers

Comment
Ten years from now, will your supply chain be smarter than you are? That question might sound strange now, but it could make perfect sense in another decade or so, if a report issued by IBM earlier this year proves to be on the mark.

Ten years from now, will your supply chain be smarter than you are? That question might sound strange now, but it could make perfect sense in another decade or so, if a report issued by IBM earlier this year proves to be on the mark.

The supply chain of the future will have to be "instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent," according to The Smarter Supply Chain of the Future: Global Chief Supply Chain Officer Study. That prediction was based on the results of nearly 400 interviews with top-ranking supply chain executives representing 29 industries in 25 countries. The inaugural study, conducted by IBM Global Business Services' Supply Chain Management Practice in mid-2008, was released by the IBM Institute for Business Value.

What does "instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent," mean? Supply chain professionals will be working in a highly automated world, respondents believe. Some information that formerly was created by people will be generated from sensors, RFID tags, meters, global positioning systems (GPS), and other technologies. The report describes a science-fictionlike future: "Inventory will count itself. Containers will detect their contents. Pallets will report if they end up in the wrong place."

More supply chain segments will be connected in the future —not just customers, suppliers, and information systems but also parts, products, and the "smart" devices used to monitor the supply chain, respondents forecast. Improved connectivity will enable worldwide networks of supply chains to plan and make decisions together, creating a more holistic view and facilitating collaboration on a far greater scale than in the past.

Supply chain executives also envision a time when advanced analytics and modeling will help decision makers evaluate alternatives while taking complex risks and constraints into account. Intelligent systems will make some decisions automatically, bypassing human intervention to reconfigure a network when disruptions occur, for example, or perhaps arrange for additional manufacturing and distribution capacity. "Equipped with sophisticated modeling and simulation capabilities, the smarter supply chain will move past sense-and-respond to predict-andact," the report says.

Yet, respondents believe there will still be a place for them in an automated world. Chief supply chain officers will spend less time on tactical concerns and will instead become strategic thinkers, collaborators, and orchestrators, they predicted.

[Source: The Smarter Supply Chain of the Future: Global Chief Supply Chain Officer Study.]

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you're not already logged in, you will be asked to log in or register.


Want more articles like this? Sign up for a free subscription to Supply Chain Executive Insight, a monthly e-newsletter that provides insights and commentary on supply chain trends and developments. Click here to subscribe.

We Want to Hear From You! We invite you to share your thoughts and opinions about this article by sending an e-mail to ?Subject=Letter to the Editor: Quarter 2009: Future supply chains could be smarter than their designers"> . We will publish selected readers' comments in future issues of CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly. Correspondence may be edited for clarity or for length.

Want more articles like this? Subscribe to CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly.