The top 5 technologies that usher supply chain trends in 2024

The pandemic and the dawn of new technologies drove a major overhaul in the supply chain management (SCM) concept.

The pandemic and the dawn of new technologies drove a major overhaul in the supply chain management (SCM) concept. It also paved the way for new supply chain trends. Wherein, technologies aid in the creation of innovative frameworks that improve supply chain.

In turn, the industry rebounded  to a market cap of $21.95 billion in 2023 from $15.58 billion in 2020. Asia has witnessed accelerating diversification of global supply chain infrastructure. Such is in regard to the  “China+1”initiative that gained momentum across Asia-Pacific’s (APAC) emerging markets.

Meanwhile, a large consumer base, low labor costs, a huge talent pool, and investor-friendly policies are also luring Western investments. These are in India, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

A KPMG  report  noted that six out of 10 businesses in 2023 planned to invest in tech. Wherein, the said technologies are helping replace legacy systems. They also introduce end-to-end transparency in supply chains. 

The global adoption rates of cloud-based technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain were 51%, 26%, and 23%. These data were shared in the PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 2023  report.

Artificial intelligence

Supply chains are being leveraged to track and resolve potential challenges through AI-powered systems. Such covers concerns on port congestion, inventory management, labor shortages, cybersecurity, and forecasting, among others.

An IDC FutureScape 2024 report projected that 60% of Asia’s top 2,000 firms would leverage Generative AI (GenAI). Said firms will aim to enhance at least one core supply chain process and lower overheads by 5%.

Among the supply chain trends, GenAI is projected to grow fastest between 2023-2032 in the APAC supply chain market. The technology alleviate skills shortages, scale agility, and resilience in firms. It will also enforce risk management mandates.

AI also enables the automation of redundant tasks, such as manual data entry, processing, and order tracking, to minimize human errors and eliminate labor-intensive workflows. 

Blockchain

Blockchain technology promotes multi-level visibility and transparency that boosts supply chain resilience. It offers a trustless ecosystem designed around a public ledger.  Wherein, the information stored and encrypted in the ledger is validated by pools of computer networks. 

The system offers one of the highest forms of security available today. Thus, said technology is ideal for supply chain process integration to improve security, efficiency, and visibility. 

According to a Research Dive report, the APAC blockchain supply chain market will reach $4.06 trillion by 2028 and become a huge global contributor.  It added that an increasing number of APAC firms seeking leaner and agile supply chains is driving the demand for blockchain supply chain services, including software in the region.

Blockchain supports accurate tracing of goods and other parameters, like compliance with ESG guidelines. In short, all parties or companies involved in the supply chain access a single source of truth, which wasn’t possible earlier. Thereby, making the use of blockchain among the supply chain trends to watch.

Cloud-based solutions

Businesses using traditional supply chain networks are integrating cloud-based products. This move is expected to tap into data’s value for actionable insights and scalability whilst rendering cost savings. 

With the digitization of all data via the cloud, businesses benefit from enhanced data mobility, allowing them to access the supply chain from anywhere. In the process, they also mitigate risks of data loss with backups and prevent supply chain disruptions.

Cloud computing, big data, and analytics tools offer a much bigger scope for optimizing logistical processes. It oversees transport movement and new orders and updates shipping routes.

Supply chain as a service

Appropriate use of Supply chain as a service (SCaaS) enables a company to develop cost-efficient, affordable processes. Whilst, subsequently boosting a company’s bottom line. 

The market is expected to almost double in value to reach $247.6 billion by 2031. SCaaS mainly involves outsourcing SCM processes, in whole or in part, to third-party providers.

Said process paves the way for businesses to prioritize their core capabilities, and improve operational agility. Moreover, SCaaS scales supply chains through access to visibility and variable price structures. 

Related initiatives could include asset and contract operations, inventory management, order fulfillment, or transport services. Such makes SCaas one of the most amicable supply chain trends in the industry that helps in customer centricity.

For example, in 2023, India’s B2B SCaaS platform Aksum Trademart raised $1 million. Said firm uses a SCaas model to streamline inventory management for SMEs in industries such as steel, construction, and infrastructure. 

5G technology

Low latency and high-speed connectivity with better accessibility to devices, sets 5G networks apart from other networks. Such features render faster data transfer with improved visibility and better quality of communication especially when connected to  

A PwC report forecasts the global 5G industry to reach a value of $13.2 trillion by 2032 as the technology rapidly replaces 4G networks. Concidingly, a Gartner report projected that 60% of communication service providers would offer 5G services by the end of this year. 

Another noteworthy feature of 5G is being very effective in real-time tracking for smarter devices. Wherein, faster data transfers let companies more accurately track products in transit, minimizing uncertainties and transportation delays. Therefore, 5G makes a case for the prioritization of resilience. 

Higher speeds with 5G allow network splicing to create individual networks where each serves a specific purpose for better flexibility and higher performance. The tech can also automate drones used in supply chains.

Handling autonomous vehicles with higher bandwidths becomes easier for activities like warehouse stocking or long-distance deliveries.  As a result, supply chain agility becomes apparent. 

Over the years, the scale at which technologies become supply chain trends has made the industry dynamic.  Wherein, technology simplifies complex logistics, expands business outreach, and addresses fraudulent activities.

The MHI Annual Industry 2024 report found that 55% of supply chain leaders are scaling investments in supply chain technology.  Around 42% of the respondents were planning investments over $10 million for better supply chain resiliency and visibility.

Prioritization of sustainability and business continuity rendered the notion of leveraging technologies to boost operations. While supply chain professionals may experience a wide array of benefits, the long-term need for constant advancements may become exhaustive.

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