The Future Trends of Successful Supply Chains
02 de February de 2022
02 de February de 2022
We are interconnected — what happens in China has an effect in Europe; what happens in Europe has an effect in the Americas; and so on… Globalisation and the exponential development of technology have brought considerable change to the old logistics industry. Since the 1980s, the blending of logistics with technology has led to what we know today as the supply chain: something that’s much more than logistics and that includes former processes and methodologies but offers a more efficient service, adapted to global dynamics and the new demands of international commerce.
The pandemic brought along unprecedented challenges for supply chains worldwide and it has shown us that we cannot be certain of anything in a world that is constantly changing at the speed of light, forcing us to adapt or perish.
We’ve been going through a couple of years of swift global transformations. People have only just become familiar with the term 'supply chain’ during this period due to how important it became. The distribution of vaccines around the world has put the supply chain in the spotlight and it has proven just how important the planning and execution of logistics is when it comes to large scale projects in such volatile contexts.
But that’s not all… and experts know it. Disruption won’t stop. We need to prepare ourselves for the trends of the future and the only way to do it is by having a deep understanding of our current reality, in which 80% of commerce comes from Asia — more precisely, from China.
In the short term, we can expect higher inflation for commodities (which we are already experiencing) and the serious challenge that the shortage of semiconductors entails. Also, a series of economic crises may start to come one after the other, while consumption habits still change at an amazing pace. e-Commerce is already king and consumers are becoming more and more demanding and aware of the importance of an efficient logistic management.
That’s why companies are rethinking their corporate culture, increasing their digital capacity and paying more attention to the supply chain among their executive priorities.
Among the new consumer demands, sustainability is still on the rise. It’s not just an empty concept or a word you can fit into your marketing campaign. Sustainability is born out of the growing awareness about the great impact that international commerce has on the planet and how it accelerates climate change. Consumers know it and they bet on supply chains that take into account these matters.
But, bear in mind that focusing on sustainability doesn’t mean that the market’s demands will slow down. The market’s activity is still intense and, thus, the big challenge for supply chains is to implement sustainability in the whole process without losing their efficiency. This will undoubtedly cause tension in the supply chain and we will need creativity and imagination in order to find a balance between both situations.
Data bursted into the supply chain to change everything. The possibility to interpret phenomena increases exponentially and technology will continue to play a key role in the future of companies and their supply chain departments. Having such a great amount of data is both an opportunity and a challenge. Like the classic slogan by Pirelli used to say: ‘Power is nothing without control’. First of all, data has to be interpreted; and, then, you need to know how to use that interpretation of the data in order to benefit from it and improve the dynamics. Understanding the root of a problem, for example, is not something a robot will be able to do.
That’s where the real importance of the human factor makes itself evident. It’s going to be the human professionals the ones that are going to be able to have a comprehensive understanding of the supply chain as well as the cross-departmental nature of its parts. They will need to manufacture flow charts and interpret trends. Supply chains require brains and hands that work together to perfection.
In this ever-changing global context, experts highlight a series of abilities that the future supply chain professionals are going to need:
Digital Abilities: Deep technical knowledge is not needed. What is needed is the ability to understand the problems and opportunities that derive from technology.
Flexibility: Adaptability and resilience are highly valuedin this world where disruption is the general rule and where the lack of flexibility can mean the failure or the end of a business.
Agility: The supply chain requires decisiveness and lots of energy.
Curiosity: It’s the force that drives us to make sure things work like they should and to learn from mistakes and from success.
Humility:Coming to terms with the fact that we don’t know everything and being able to identify those who can answer our questions and tell us how things have been previously done.
Article written in collaboration with:
Miquel Serracanta, Director of EAE’s Master’s in Supply Chain Management.
David Cuenca, President of CHEP Europe.