Your Supply Chain Reality in 5 Years: What ChatGPT Can’t Tell You

Your Supply Chain Reality in 5 Years: What ChatGPT Can’t Tell You

We asked our readers: How will supply chain management transform in the next five years?

Here are the three major transformations supply chain managers can anticipate.

1. Adoption of advanced supply chain technology will be a major source of competitive advantage for companies. Platforms that improve human decision making and asset management will be areas of focus. Companies will unify their technology portfolios and update or replace legacy systems.

2. Soon the majority of supply chain management platforms will deliver embedded advanced analytics (AA) and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. Improved decision making through the use of AA and AI is a high priority for supply chain stakeholders. This will be a major competitive advantage, making repetitive and manual requests for status obsolete.

3. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities will be embedded in the supply chain process. Leaders must move from good intentions to value creation—accelerating progression of ESG priorities and merging them into the supply chain. This will become increasingly crucial as countries around the world continue to adopt stricter due diligence laws like the recently passed German supply chain law and the United States’ Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act.

-Tim Chiu

Expect a significant relocation of global sourcing. Businesses are keen to shorten the supply chain, increasing visibility and bringing suppliers closer to them and their customers. The geographical distribution of suppliers and manufacturers, which once leaned global, will flip to favor local and regional sourcing. Organizations will need to tap into their business networks to find local suppliers.

–Gordon Donovan
Global Market Research Director
Procurement & External Workforce

We will see a far greater focus on Customs clearing cargo in transit. The need for better terminal efficiency will pressure importers to clear cargo and secure the carrier release before vessel arrival so that terminals can plan their container stacks. It’s time to put automated manifest system data to use—visibility, clearance, appointment, go.

-Bryn Heimbeck
President and Co-Founder
Trade Tech Inc.

Supply chains will operate with less energy. Many supply chain processes will run autonomously, supported by IT-assisted data analytics. Overall, in five years, supply chain management (SCM) is super resilient, as disturbances will no longer be a surprise. Furthermore, SCM incorporates Gen Z’s demands for sustainability and work-life balance.

–Dr. Herbert Kotzab
Director, Crowley Center for Transportation and Logistics,
CSX Transportation Eminent Scholar in Transportation & Logistics
University of North Florida

SCM will evolve from being reactive to proactive. Technology will enable proactive decision-making focused on additional parameters such as resiliency and sustainability while still considering costs, service, and performance. This is a shift from the past siloed evaluations. Supply chain practitioners will be equipped with the power of data-driven insights, and more time will be spent on strategic complex planning vs. tactical execution.

–Venky Arun
Partner, Strategic Operations

Resiliency, sustainability, increased use of data analytics and end-to-end collaboration—supply chain management will continue to expand upon these current trends. Additional use of technology, especially with artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and other advancements will enable faster, more precise decision-making.

–Felix Vicknair
VP, Supply Chain Solutions
Kenco Group

Supply chains will coalesce around three key pillars: people, process, and technology. Today, there is some integration among these pillars. The next step is a much tighter and deeper integration across all three in order to provide value to customers and employees.

–Ann Nemphos
Chief Technology Officer
World Group

The supply chain recently became extremely fluid, with freight moving from ship to plane to rail to truck and back to address shortages. Add in reshoring/nearshoring trends and growing visibility expectations, and supply chain management is poised to be more fluid, yet even more connected, in the next five years.

–Ron Bisio
Senior Vice President
Trimble Transportation

Increased digitalization in both the physical supply and logistical chains as well as in the finance of trade. We expect to see the continued leap from paper-based processes to global information networks (think ocean bills of lading on a blockchain) and an increasing number of partners and service providers connected and sharing data electronically. The added visibility and availability of real-time status information should allow new forms of financing for trading partners at earlier points in the manufacturing, shipment, and delivery cycles.

–Michael Stitt
Head of Trade and Supply Chain Finance Sales
U.S. Bank

Connected IoT devices, advanced analytics, machine learning, and touchless order management and delivery are transforming the design, management, and optimization of supply chains. Through collaboration, trust, and visibility across manufacturers, retailers, shipping platforms, and transportation networks, we can unlock new sources of value, eliminate waste, and create sustainable, efficient flows.

–Raj Venkat
VP, Digital
CHEP North America

Supply chains will further move away from being linear chains toward connected ecosystems that link data, decisions, and operations across multiple touchpoints and processes, enabling a greater level of coordination, collaboration, and orchestration. This will further accelerate into the future.

–Alex Pradhan
Product Strategy Leader
John Galt Solutions

Expect an increased emphasis on supplier and ecosystem partnerships, with a marked focus on sustainability. Nearshoring will continue to grow, which will intensify the war for talent, and more companies will continue to adopt blockchain solutions to improve supply chain management.

–Guru Bandekar
Global Vice President, Supply Chain Management

The cost of inaccurate data will escalate and cost to track will continue to be a burden. Internet-of-Things technology will have increasing impact on the supply chain to help address these issues.

–Jason Judd
SVP, Engineering

The U.S. Postal Service will take share in e-commerce shipping. Multi-carrier strategy will gain momentum with retailers, e-commerce pure-plays, and manufacturers selling direct-to-consumer. The trend is driven by elevated profitability goals and the necessity to adapt to new economic challenges from industry leaders, FedEx and UPS.

–Gaston Curk
OSM Worldwide

While investing in supply chain agility and analytics will be a top priority for every logistician, increasing inventory levels will also be key to offering companies the flexibility necessary to meet unexpected surges in demand.

–Greg Tuthill
SeaCube Containers

Bringing together a clean energy mix of renewable energy with low-carbon alternative energy sources is one of many ways we will see supply chain management evolve over the next five, 10, and 15-plus years.

–Joe Calhoun
Director, Off-Road Business Development
Propane Education & Research Council

Supply chain visibility will advance significantly. Order/purchase order management capabilities, rapid customer integrations, and real-time container tracking will be commonplace and base requirements for shippers seeking new supply chain partners.

–Mike Williams
EVP, Commercial Development & Logistics
ContainerPort Group

Increased scrutiny of the cyber operations and defenses of small and medium-sized enterprises. Enterprise customers will be cracking down on the entirety of their supply chain cybersecurity and writing tougher cybersecurity clauses into their contracts.

–Chris Wallis
Founder and CEO

Technology, and in particular AI, will have a profound impact on supply chain management over the next five years. Technology is innovating at an incredible pace. As such, supply chain management can be expected to be heavily automated and to provide just-in time information and answers on demand—all contributing to a more seamless supply chain.

–Jonathan Finch
Senior Director, Client Services

As technology drives further supply chain transformation, great people will become even more valuable. While real-time data and automation support speed and efficiency, managing relationships and executing strategic solutions remain essential skills that require human expertise. Recruiting is increasingly competitive, so strong company values and culture will also be critical.

–Darlene Wolf
Senior Vice President of Strategic Partners
Arrive Logistics