Supply chain operators may have to get up to speed on a new range of cutting-edge technologies to keep up with the currents of change, according to a recent industry report.Â The report by market research firm Gartner Inc. finds that disruption and new business models in 2019 will be driven by 10 powerful technology trends, including some familiar concepts like autonomous vehicles and blockchain, as well as some more esoteric concepts such as augmented analytics and quantum computing.
While most shippers, brokers, carriers, vendors, and warehouse operators will agree that the logistics industry is awash in emerging technologies, Gartner said its study focuses only on those trends that have substantial disruptive potential that is beginning to break out of an emergingÂ state into broader impact and could reach a tipping point over the next five years.
Viewed through that prism, Gartner says the ten strategic technology trends that organizations need to exploreÂ in 2019 are:
While Gartner identified these trends as general, industry-wide themes, each one could apply specifically to logistics in a range of ways, the firm said.
In one example, robotic applications could soon evolve far beyond their current use in discrete tasks, and begin to cooperate within a broader network. "As autonomous things proliferate, we expect a shift from stand-aloneÂ intelligent things to a swarm of collaborative intelligent things, withÂ multiple devices working together, either independently of people or with humanÂ input," David Cearley, a vice president andÂ Gartner Fellow, said in a release.
"For example, if a drone examinedÂ a large field andÂ found that it was ready for harvesting, it could dispatch an 'autonomousÂ harvester'," Cearley said. "Or in the delivery market, the mostÂ effective solution may be toÂ use an autonomous vehicle to move packages to the target area. Robots andÂ drones on board the vehicleÂ could then ensure final delivery of the package."
Despite this great potential for change, some of the strategic technologies flagged for 2019—such as blockchain—still require significant development before they can perform reliably in a business environment, Gartner said.
"Current blockchain technologiesÂ and concepts are immature, poorly understood, and unproven inÂ mission-critical, at-scale businessÂ operations. This is particularly so withÂ the complex elements that support more sophisticated scenarios," Cearley said. "Despite theÂ challenges, the significant potential for disruptionÂ means CIOs and IT leaders should begin evaluating blockchain, even if theyÂ don'tÂ aggressively adopt the technologies in the next few years."