When it comes to the latest and greatest technologies that are earmarked to change our lives, turn chaos into order, save us time and deliver better productivity, it can be truly difficult to decipher false promises from genuine innovations that can stand the test of time.
So we’ve done a bit of digging into the nine new technologies recently reported by Gartner to see which ones stand up against all the bravado and sales-talk. This post looks into the three new supply chain innovations that will offer value to your supply chain over the next few years and help you run an even more tight ship.
1. Diagnostic analytics
If you’ve ever wondered why something in your supply chain occurred, then diagnostic analytics is for you. Diagnostic analytics is an advanced form of analytics that has recently been marked by Gartner as one of the latest innovations for supply chain management that will see widespread adoption in the coming months.
What makes this particular breed of analytics so helpful is that it looks to past performance metrics to see why a new event occurred. The results are often displayed in a dashboard to explain why a sudden change in activity took place. In order to use gain from the potential benefits of this form of analytics, you’ll need to drill down into your current data sets and allow your software to make the appropriate correlations that are often displayed through interactive visualisation tools.
(Image source - Dilbert's 20 funniest cartoon on Big Data)
You may already know that supply chain metrics are all the buzz right now, but these new kinds of analytics technologies have widespread use in business from tracking employee productivity, to why you’re suddenly not meeting key performance indicators across the board. When utilised within the supply chain there are also limitless applications for conducting this kind of analysis into your supply chain from understanding inventory fluctuations to gaining a better understanding on why order fulfilment times are varying. And as Dilbert so cleverly showed us, using analytics software applications for these kinds of analysis removes the chances of human error.
2. Targeted supply chain segmentation
Separately these two concepts may not sound incredibly foreign to you. Most people in business understand what a target segmentation is, and it’s fair to say that anyone reading a blog on supply chain management understands what a supply chain is! However, the new term on the block seeks to combine the two terms to create a super charged version of the two; targeted supply chain segmentation.
In the new digital era that’s saturated with instant gratification, many of us know today that manufacturing is mainly only profitable if you can produce and distribute goods rapidly. But it’s not possible to do this if you don’t have distribution strategies that fit the needs and wants of each of your specific target markets.
This is where targeted supply chain segmentation comes in. Factors such as geography, demographics and behaviour should all be considered when putting together a distribution strategy for any product. With new software platforms and CRMs that are coming out everyday, it’s now also possible to segment customers into different groups and prioritise different elements according to volume.
According to the Supply Chain Quarterly, breaking up your supply chain into the required segments of your business will help your organisation deliver great profit and productivity. Understanding the profit profiles of your customers allows you to respond more readily to demand and changing needs of your consumers. This is especially useful for FMCG and products that change frequently like seasonable products or fashion retail.
3. Social learning platforms
If somebody where to ask you if you would prefer a young doctor or a more experienced doctor, what would you choose? It’s difficult to answer. The young doctor would be most up to date on the latest medicines to come to market, and is fresh faced and eager to help. However, an older doctor has decades of experience behind her to help them make better decisions in difficult situations.
If only there was a technology platform out there that could help us bridge the benefit gap between the two…..well luckily there is!
Social learning platforms are fast becoming a popular reservoir of knowledge for businesses. Say you have a large number of long-term employees that know the ins and outs of everything your business does, from picking and packing to invoicing. New IT programs are coming out to allow businesses to capture this knowledge and pass it on to new employees, or make it easier to scale effective ways of doing things across a business. Thanks to these programs we no longer need to trade experience for the latest and greatest, and eventually these platforms will begin to create deep resources for businesses to look into in times of change, hardship or growth.
Social learning platforms are especially useful for businesses that have a lot of manual processes to despatch orders. Although doing things manually is a time consuming process, there is still a lot of information help within the processes that would need to be ported over when using a new technology to manage inventory. This is where social learning platforms can bridge the gap between the old and the new to ensure your supply chain can perform at an optimum level.
These three new innovations are just a snapshot of the exciting things still to come in supply chain management. Are there any exciting new technologies you see as being the next big thing in materials handling or distribution? Let us know in the comments below.