Most business processes will have to become more digital for the vision of Industry 4.0 to be realized. Traditional supply chains will become more connected, smarter, and efficient as they evolve into an ecosystem.
A supply chain is a complex ecosystem of activities, business processes, people, resources, and information that leads to the completion of a company’s product or service.
A company’s digital supply chain initiative and internal processes help deliver products to consumers and gain a competitive advantage.
The introduction of big data technology and continuous process improvement has created new business possibilities.
On a strategic level, the advent of the Internet of Things and other connected gadgets has left no stone unturned in positively impacting supply chain operations.
It has triggered a revolution in digital transformation across the whole supply chain, including finance, purchasing, and storage.
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Digital transformation is changing the next era of supply chain management, which blurs the difference between the digital and physical worlds and restores traditional supply chain operations with the latest advancements worldwide.
The disruptive impacts of the global pandemic have completely changed the way the supply chain works before.
As a result, the global supply chain has strengthened the demand for implementing digitization in supply chain operations to increase resilience and mitigate risks.
By adopting the digital supply chain transformation into business operations, companies now identify the potential risks ahead and take necessary actions to avoid those conditions.
Today, digital transformation in the supply chain is not limited to risk mitigation. With technologies like RFID, GPS, and sensors, businesses now transform their existing supply chain structure into more flexible, open, collaborative, and agile digital models.
But to relish the maximum benefits from the digital supply chain models, organizations must consider it a fundamental part of the overall business model.
“Digital supply chain have the capability for boundless information availability and excellent collaboration that results in improved security, agility and effectiveness.”
Industry 4.0 causes upheaval and forces businesses to reconsider their supply chain strategy. Several new technologies have arisen that are disrupting traditional working practices. Megatrends and client expectations, on top of that, alter the game.
Aside from the necessity to adapt, supply chains have the chance to advance to the next level of operational efficiency, take advantage of emerging digital supply chain business models, and turn their organization into a digital supply chain.
The impact of digital transformation on the global supply chain
87% of chief supply chain officers said that poor visibility across the supply chain was the biggest challenge for their organization, leading to inefficiencies and waste. – IBM Study
A supply chain digital transformation using digital applications allows businesses to improve service, cost, agility, and inventory management. This is done by systematically integrating processes and organizational changes, in turn improving operational excellence.
Despite their tremendous efforts, not many organizations have yet entirely attained the supply chain performance improvement they yearn for.
With its ability to cut costs and timescales, digitalization is the answer to many supply chain pain points.
How can digital technology impact supply chain digital transformation?
Today’s supply chain comprises a series of largely independent, walled-off phases: marketing, product development, manufacturing, and distribution that eventually reach the consumers.
Digitization destroys those boundaries, allowing the supply chain to become a wholly integrated ecosystem transparent to all the players involved — from raw material suppliers, component producers, and parts transporters to supply transporters and consumers.
This network will depend on several key technologies: integrated planning and execution systems, logistics visibility, autonomous logistics, innovative procurement and warehousing, spare parts management, and advanced analytics.
The integrated network will also share information that will allow companies to anticipate and respond to disruptions in the supply chain.
It will give them complete network knowledge, create “what-if” situations, and adjust their supply chains in real-time as circumstances change.
Consider using on-demand warehousing services like Flexe. The company locates unused industrial storage space and makes it available to businesses on a limited basis.
This way, the space owner may offset the expense of its unproductive asset while better aligning its warehousing demands with those of others.
The solution allows the service buyer to keep up with its growing storage needs without investing in a costly asset.
The integration of these technologies will have a significant impact on companies and the way they work together.
This shift will necessitate new types of collaboration, agreements, and fundamental changes in supply chain management methods.
Today, discussions about supply chain compliance, resilience, and developing a long-term supply chain are becoming increasingly popular. These problems encourage businesses to shift from traditional supply chains to digital ones.
The digital supply chain emerges when traditional supply chain management methods are enhanced with cutting-edge electronic and digital technology such as:
- Cloud computing
- Software as a service (SaaS)
- Big data
- Artificial intelligence
- Machine learning
- Natural language processing (NLP)
- Virtual reality and augmented reality
- Internet of things (IoT)
Digital transformation is reshaping the supply chain industry
Let’s see the ways digitalization has reformed the supply chain industry.
1. Sustainability becomes important
Today, customers expect green products and supportable processes, making sustainability one of the most critical supply chain management trends.
According to the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business, sustainable products developed 5.6 times higher revenues than non-sustainable products.
Another best example is Unilever’s sustainable living products, which are responsible for 70 percent of the company’s revenue growth.
These developments emphasize the significance of environment-friendly supply chain activities such as transitioning from plastic to cardboard packing and adopting smaller packaging.
Businesses must also be conscious of their carbon footprints, take action to become carbon neutral, and incorporate sustainability into their supply chain management.
Moving away from legacy systems and processes with the help of digital transformation can help manufacturers move towards a sustainable supply chain.
2. Process mining techniques
A process mining technology is nothing but an analytical discipline for identifying, monitoring, and improving processes by obtaining knowledge from performance logs readily available in today’s information systems.
In 2022, digital transformation (DX) spending is projected to reach 1.8 trillion U.S. dollars. By 2025, global digital transformation spending will reach 2.8 trillion U.S. dollars. – Statista
Process mining tools, under these models, provide vital means to audit, analyze, and enhance existing operations by providing objective, fact-based information generated from the transactional data that supply chains generate and utilize.
Blockchain is a decentralized, shareable, and unchangeable transaction database that can be tremendously disruptive.
Although most supply chain blockchain applications are still pilot programs, smart contracts, traceability and verification, and other highly decentralized supply chain management tasks are considered critical possibilities for blockchain.
The post-COVID 19 global blockchain supply chain market size is expected to grow from USD 253 million in 2020 to USD 3,272 million by 2026, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 53.2% during the forecast period. – MarketsAndMarkets
The major factors accelerating the blockchain supply chain market include:
- The rising popularity of blockchain technology in the retail and SCM industry
- Increasing demand for supply chain transparency
- Growing need for enhanced security of supply chain transactions
Moreover, the increasing demand to automate supply chain activities and eliminate intermediaries and rising government initiatives would provide profitable opportunities for blockchain supply chain vendors.
The Internet of Things has a lot of potential for improving supply chain operations, especially when collecting data from millions of devices and measuring performance in real-time. IoT devices enable a real-time view of operations from manufacturing to delivery throughout production.
Most things going through a manufacturer’s supply chain can have IoT sensors embedded in them, giving them unparalleled transparency and control of parts for assembly, finished goods, and other objects.
IoT in the supply chain helps businesses:
- Authenticate the location and estimated time of the arrival of their goods
- Easily monitor storage conditions of raw materials or perishable products
- Streamline the complex movement of goods
- Administer goods immediately upon requests
5. Integration with E-commerce
79% of e-commerce companies with superior supply chain management report above-average revenue growth. – Deloitte
B2B sellers can now use digital transformation technologies to discover and fix various inefficiencies in their supply chains. They can manage efficient operations and provide smooth client experiences thanks to networked devices. As a result, businesses are beginning to use interconnected supply chains within their eCommerce activities, allowing for a free flow of information throughout their enterprises.
6. Enhanced services and cut costs
As the world of commerce move online, shipping and delivery prices will inevitably arise. Transportation, warehouse management, inventory storage, packaging, and material prices are rising at an incredible speed globally.
But now, time-consuming manual data input can be automated, such as keying in information on bookings, purchase orders or sailing schedules. Supply chain digital transformation streamlines managers’ workflows by automated procedures, saving them hours and focusing on even more value-added duties like negotiating better vendor prices or executing growth initiatives.
7. Cloud computing
21% of supply chain executives have deployed cloud-enabled capabilities across their entire supply chain. – Accenture
IoT devices and smart systems generate a lot of data, which must be stored somewhere. That’s where Cloud Computing comes into the picture. It facilitates enhanced responsiveness to supply chain disruptions. Companies are now investing money in IT systems for centralizing and keeping data in the cloud.
Cloud computing also gains access to a 360-degree perspective of their supply chain activities, accurate real-time data, and the capacity to connect everyone in the supply chain, from manufacturing workers to delivery drivers. It enables organizations to track a product throughout its lifecycle closely.
8. Virtual reality
As VR applications continue to expand and prices continuously decrease, the VR market alone could reach up to $48.5 billion by 2025. – Deloitte
Virtual reality improves supply chain operations in four main areas:
- Data and process visualization
- Employee collaboration
- Product and process design
- Experience-based learning
It helps with interactive visualization, data acquisition, and high-fidelity simulation settings, among other things (like high-risk employee training), which allows manufacturers to design and architect in 3-D, assess designs and make crucial decisions about new products and customer buying decisions.
Moreover, it enhanced the velocity, quality, and simplification of the order fulfillment cycle.
With VR in the supply chain, the product purchase decision power is enhanced significantly. This is because VR allows customers to interact with the products or change designs and visualize the changes in real-time via their devices.
Once they are happy with the product, the configured order is released immediately to the respective manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors that provide the products.
In real-time, the customer receives their delivery and installation schedule, making the entire purchasing process seamless and enhancing customer engagement with the business or brand.
9. Augmented reality
AR in the supply chain helps speed up the production process, reducing downtime of machines, minimizing in-house costs, and achieving shorter sales processes.
Organizations now widely use it to increase their workers’ engagement and productivity.
Using smart glasses with Augmented Reality (AR) technologies is one of the significant examples that direct the workforce across warehouses to quickly choose products, reducing human error.
To aid decision-making, on-site employees may have access to data, including schematics, procedures, instructions, or maps.
AR in the supply chain is all about making goods and services more efficient, cost-effective, and potentially error-free.
10. AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots)
Autonomous technology is continuously making a significant impact on the supply chain. It helps organizations move goods without human intervention or support in achieving inventory accuracy.
This technology in the supply chain is widely used for warehouses and stores, highways, and last-mile deliveries or mines.
The key behind using AMRs is to enable workers’ productivity and seamless warehouse operations.
In AMRs, there are mainly two types of robots being used- one is based on fleet management, and the other is the system that relies on picking optimization.
Suppose you want to learn more about the latest manufacturing and supply chain trends. In that case, this informational guide compiled by our team of professionals will come in handy for you.
The guide carefully outlines the various industry use-cases that can guide executives to anticipate market changes, fill the technological gaps in their supply chain and manufacturing processes, and plug in the growth factor for faster monetization.
When people think of drones, they typically imagine ordering a package online and having it delivered to their front door by the drone. But drone technology is more than that.
Today with a perfect combination of computer vision technology, AI, and RFID sensors, drones are performing inventory management tasks seamlessly within the warehouse faster and more accurately than the human eye.
In this context, drones offer some distinct benefits: increased tracking accuracy and efficiency, enhanced resource and workforce utilization, and safety.
12. Speed and affordability
These are two of the most significant advantages that supply chains may get from digitizing their procedures.
Taking your business to the next technology level can help you save time and money by reducing the time it takes to make strategic choices and increasing operational efficiency.
Manufacturers believe that by improving price and operating expenses, they will experience increasing sales through more computerized processes.
13. Lead times are kept to a minimum
Digital supply networks drastically minimize wait times. Orders are executed considerably faster, whether it is the lead time for acquiring raw materials or nailing down production capacity.
These include raw material lead times, manufacturing capacity reservations to ensure the facility available at the right moment, and distribution planning.
14. Resolve incompetence in the supply chain
Out-of-stock products result in a loss of revenue for a company. A computerized supply process can ensure that the business never runs out of stock or orders too much, resulting in significant discounts.
15. Supply chains generate large volumes of data
Today’s analytics can discover problem trends, detect fraud, and highlight savings and cost-reduction potential by establishing a digital edition of the end-to-end supply chain, encompassing historical documents, supplier performance records, and total landed cost possibilities.
Analytics can also keep an eye on potential threats and make preemptive recommendations.
Real-time transactional reporting and performance evaluations are made possible by analytics, allowing continuous development throughout the chain.
16. Make a demand-driven supply chain possible
A demand-driven supply chain is ideal for smoother resource management; nevertheless, it is unattainable without a digital system.
Companies can alter items based on the market using real-time sales data, allowing them to speed up the manufacturing of best-sellers while reducing losses on laggards.
17. Financial planning has improved
It decreases recurring capital requirements and improves cash flow by holding excess stock in a warehouse for shorter periods and using a JIT methodology.
18. Data from the supply chain is now available
The data sets collected during day-to-day management are thoroughly recorded in a digital supply chain process. As a result, firms may use big data techniques to improve a wide range of business processes.
19. Enhanced cash flow and expense control
The faster the supply chain flows, the less money is bound up. According to a survey, $1 million was the average annual labor cost for manually entering data into their ERP and back-end systems.
Digitizing it eliminates such cash-burning situations. The companies are now digitizing purchase order engagement activities, reducing manual data entry.
It leads to saving millions of dollars. And now, nearly a 1/3 of the businesses would aim to move from a monthly cash forecasting process to a weekly process if the process were digitized.
It can assist a company in strengthening its business strategy (for instance, by moving into new market categories) and collaborating more efficiently with consumers and partners (for example, by basing S&OP decisions on data automatically extracted from customers’ ERP systems).
Brands are rethinking how they do business in light of the rapidly changing technological world, global and national tensions, and rising customer expectations.
They are reimagining their supply chains to get more control over efficiency, adaptability, redirecting, and resilience.
Now is the most significant moment to start implementing these strategies for re-evaluating their supply chains, eCommerce operations, and marketing strategies.
Today, one of the most effective and safest methods to develop a resilient organization is establishing a modern, computerized, and interconnected supply chain.
So, what are you waiting for? If you are looking for digital transformation services, you are on the right platform.
Transform your traditional supply chain operations with a digital approach and give your business operations a must-shot to grow and develop.
Rapidops is a leading digital transformation services company that develops and delivers out-of-the-box solutions, adding maximum value to your business.
So don’t miss out on a chance to transform your business with the latest technologies and take your business to new heights.
Connect with us today, discuss your requirements with our experts and start your project today!
- How can digital technology impact supply chain digital transformation?
- Sustainability becomes important
- Process mining techniques
- Integration with E-commerce
- Enhanced services and cut costs
- Cloud computing
- Virtual reality
- Augmented reality
- AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots)
- Speed and affordability
- Lead times are kept to a minimum
- Resolve incompetence in the supply chain
- Supply chains generate large volumes of data
- Make a demand-driven supply chain possible
- Financial planning has improved
- Data from the supply chain is now available
- Enhanced cash flow and expense control
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Vandana Parashar is a Content Writer and a learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She writes for B2C and B2B businesses, creates content that holds attention, builds authority, and drives action.