Welcome to the Supply Chain Singularity!

Distributed Logistics

Really enjoyed my time at this year’s RILA Supply Chain conference and as I highlighted in my pre-conference blogpost several transformative technologies are all now moving into their early implementation phases at the same time.

Times like these, when surrounded by the sharing of many new ideas and forward looking professionals often helps to draw out and crystallize thoughts on topics such as the impending state of supply chain singularity now rapidly approaching.

This represents a rare and unique opportunity for supply chain designers, planners, IT resources, engineers and operators to come together to jointly understand, integrate and synergize these technologies to the betterment of their supply chains, the environment and most importantly the end customer.

The ultimate goal is to understand, tool up for and deliver a unified customer experience where ‘unichannel’ means bringing together a harmonized view and execution capability for all possible product and delivery channels to the customer or even stores for that matter.

Key to success in this monumental transformation will be to bring your supply chain to the most local of levels AND at the same time automate these micro-fulfillment locations for speed, accuracy, lowest cost and environmental impact to fulfill on a near immediate basis to both consumers and stores.

The emerging technologies of which I speak are Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Robotics, Alternative & Big Data and last but not least Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help us make sense of all the former and ultimately take all the right actions in a timely manner.

All of these technologies need to be implemented in unison through a well thought out and co-ordinated plan. Unless this is done the geometric benefits available from true convergence will never materialize or be achieved by your supply chain.

The converged supply chain of the future is all about concentric layers fully interconnected at the most granular levels of plans, items and activities covering every aspect of your supply chain and related supply chains where synergies are possible.

In her keynote Sona Chawla the Chief Operating Officer of Kohl’s referred to the discovery and capture of many micro-efficiencies within the Kohl’s supply chain everyday to continuously improve performance, service and results.

In the coming supply chain singularity, such improvements will be embedded in the very systems and processes of planning, monitoring, adjusting, operating and collaborating with all related providers and adjacent supply chains to operate in unison.

So ready or not, welcome to the imminent future of logistics complexity, where success will depend on understanding, mastering (or hiring people/providers who understand) all of these technologies and how they effectively fit together, allowing you to build out and deliver on this critical vision of supply chain singularity.

Jeff Ashcroft

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