Technology will play greater role in supply chain management next year


Increasing risks and pressures are bearing down on supply chains around the world, and companies will deal with such issues by turning more to technology that can improve supply chain management practices, according to a new report from Progress Software.

The company recently released a list of what it believes will shape global supply chains in 2012, with technology playing a big role.

supply chain technology

1. Planning lives on

Even though organizations continue to run into snags - most commonly in the form of inaccuracies - with their efforts to plan, many will continue the practice next year, the report said. However, those that will be successful at it will be the companies that set end goals and head in a direction to achieve them.

2. Elasticity is a must

In seeking out suppliers who can get the job done at a lower cost and are located near customers, companies must be flexible with their supply chain dealings. The report said many are implementing serious changes - such as moving suppliers from Asia to Mexico - and they must be prepared to handle such a transition.

3. Disruptions continue

Just like in 2011, the report said that natural disasters, wars and other factors will continue to disrupt supply chains next year. Some will deal with this by taking on new suppliers and vendors, but the report warned that supply chain relationships are not built in a day.

4. End-to-end view is paramount

Enjoying an end-to-end view of the entire supply chain will be a major factor of success in 2012, the report said. Technology is helping, but the report acknowledged that gaining such insight into the supply chain remains a difficult task.

5. Hands-off approach becomes popular

Successful companies will also demonstrate what the report referred to as a "touchless" supply chain. Currently the best example of this is managed by Apple. Instead of coming into contact with the product being built, the company simply orchestrates all the moving parts along the process. At some point, the report said, even supply chain management itself could go this route.

However it's done, experts agree that supply chain management is an important practice for any modern company. Efficient processes focused on quality allow organizations to introduce products with more success.