Gartner Top 8 Supply Chain Technology Trends for 2020

Artificial intelligence, edge computing and supply chain governance are some of the top trends for supply chain leaders looking to transform their organizations.

In preparation for the reset in a post-coronavirus-world, supply chain leaders seek to exploit the benefits of digitalization to an even greater degree. They must look to innovative technologies that have the potential to disrupt supply chain operating models and provide a competitive advantage.

It is important for supply chain technology leaders to adapt a mindset that accepts and embraces long-term perpetual change

“Gartner research shows that supply chain leaders perceive technology primarily as a competitive advantage — they focus on long-term value,” says Christian Titze, Vice President Analyst, Gartner. “Yet, 80% of organizations favor a cautious approach when it comes to adopting new supply chain applications and technologies.”

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Despite possible C-level pressure to reduce costs or prove short-term ROI, it is important for supply chain technology leaders to adapt a mindset that accepts and embraces long-term perpetual change. The top strategic supply chain technologies are a critical ingredient for good technology decision making.

Trend 1: Hyperautomation

Hyperautomation is a framework to mix and match a vast array of technologies in the best possible way, such as historic legacy platforms with recently deployed tools and planned investments. The term means different things for different organizations, so supply chain leaders must first find their individual definition. If deployed correctly, hyperautomation can encourage broader collaboration across domains and act as an integrator for disparate and siloed functions.

Trend 2: Digital supply chain twin

A digital supply chain twin (DSCT) is a digital representation of the physical supply chain. It is derived from all relevant data across the supply chain and its operating environment. That makes the DSCT the basis for all local and end-to-end decision making.

“DSCTs are part of the digital theme that describes an ever-increasing merger of the digital and physical worlds,” Titze says. “Linking both worlds enhances situational awareness and supports decision making.”

Learn more: Driving a Digital Supply Chain

Trend 3: Continuous intelligence

Continuous intelligence is one of the biggest opportunities for supply chain leaders to accelerate their organizations’ digital transformation. It leverages a computer’s ability to process data at a much faster pace than people can. Supply chain leaders — or other systems — can look at the processed data, understand what is happening and take action immediately.

Trend 4: Supply chain governance and security

This is an increasingly important macro trend, as global risk events are on the rise and security breaches impact companies on both the digital and physical levels.

“Gartner anticipates a wave of new solutions to emerge for supply chain security and governance, especially in the fields of privacy as well as cyber and data security,” Titze says. “Think advanced track-and-trace solutions, smart packaging, and next-gen RFID and NFC capabilities.”

Read more: 6 Strategies for a More Resilient Supply Chain

Trend 5: Edge computing and analytics

The rise of edge computing, where data is processed and analyzed close to its collection point, coincides with the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It’s the technology needed when there is a demand for low-latency processing and real-time, automated decision making.

Edge computing is right now making its way into the manufacturing industry. For example, some organizations have adopted driverless forklifts for their warehouses. Heavy equipment sellers can use edge computing to analyze when a part needs maintenance or replacement.

Trend 6: Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) in supply chain consists of a toolbox of technology options that help companies understand complex content, engage in natural dialogue with people, enhance human performance and take over routine tasks.

Currently, AI helps supply chain leaders solve longstanding challenges around data silos and governance. Its capabilities allow for more visibility and integration across networks of stakeholders that were previously remote or disparate.

Read more: 4 Factors That Will Impact the Future Supply Chain

Trend 7: 5G Networks

Compared to its predecessors, 5G is a massive step forward with regard to data speed and processing capabilities. The ubiquitous nature of 5G boosts its potential for supply chains. For example, running a 5G network in a factory can minimize latency and enhance real-time visibility and IoT capabilities.

Trend 8: Immersive experience

Immersive experience technology such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality has the potential to radically influence the trajectory of supply chain management. Those new interaction models amplify human capabilities, and companies already see the benefits in use cases like onboarding new workers through immersive on-the-job training in a safe, realistic virtual environment.

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This article is based on insights that are part of an in-depth collection of research, tools, templates and advice available to Gartner clients.


Gartner for Supply Chain Leaders clients can read more in The 2020 Strategic Supply Chain Technology Trends by Christian Titze, et al.

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