From a Modest Beginning

Having covered logistics for more than four decades, Inbound Logistics has promoted and encouraged companies to adopt demand-driven logistics practices, and reported their progress driving the evolution of traffic management to supply chain management. The key development in that process was accepting a sea change in business management: Don’t plan and push your product at the market and see what sticks. Pull instead. Match your demand signals to supply and alter your processes to support that philosophical switch.

That change required new technology to manage effectively. Today, we are looking at technology that will soon be available to drive that evolution to the next level.

Look to the Sky

Here are some skyward trends that will empower demand-driven enterprises in 2021 and beyond:

  • Cloud hyperscalers, such as Oracle, SAP, AWS, Microsoft, Google, and others, will invest untold amounts and drive the evolution from software-as-a-service to platform-as-a-service to cloud-as-a-service. This will open up exciting opportunities for all industry sectors, including yours.

  • The COVID cultural change dynamic and the Zoom response has, to a large degree, mitigated the reluctance of companies to adopt and adapt cloud solutions. People are ready.
  • The maturation of industry-specific blockchain solutions will converge with the explosion of cloud infrastructure, lighting up economic activity across the planet.
  • As that investment gels, look for industry-specific cloud IaaS solutions as well as enhanced and advanced enterprise solutions, especially empowering supply chain management.
  • Demand-driven enterprise planning will morph or replace legacy enterprise resource planning as enterprises shift focus to the new capabilities to see and serve your demand points—no matter where they may be—in near real time. It’s about customer centric.
  • Cloud IaaS infrastructure will enhance the customer feedback loop as more bidirectional connections are formed, enriching relationships and, once again, spurring growth in new demand-driven connections.
  • Let’s not forget a different type of investment in cloud infrastructure: Elon Musk has also looked skyward and heavily invested in Above the Clouds Infrastructure called SpaceX. This global network of approximately 30,000 geosynchronous satellites seeks to provide enhanced GPS with location information measured in inches, and high-speed web tone to every corner of the globe.
  • These converging trends will spur development of artificial-intelligence-as-a-service (AIaaS), giving rise to new products brought to market faster and more efficiently. For example, by using digitally engineered manufacturing, automation, and adaptive production, the United States can manufacture an e-series next-generation fighter jet in just one year, something that usually takes decades. Having more AI in the cloud will give access to those that cannot afford hosted or local AI power.
  • All this investment, and more, will provide a live demand point pulse tracking back to vendors of choice and to their supply chain origination points. Think of it as the customer experience on steroids, where the ability to truly implement a customer-centric ethos provides a pull-along effect, impacting manufacturing, supply levels and relationships, workforce requirements, logistics options, marketing efforts, and more.
  • The beauty of these cloud IaaS-empowered systems is that new markets would open up, and legions of new consumers would truly benefit from efficiency and product availability due to cloud-enhanced, demand-driven practices.

When we started what was to become Inbound Logistics in 1981, the latest technology to manage inbound operations was using fax machines to distribute routing guides to vendors. Forty years later, we’ve advanced from that modest start to using technology in a pivotal year, empowering the demand-driven enterprise.

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