5 Supply Chain Predictions for 2015

Very often any predictions you can make for a one year period are not about a brand new thing that will occur, the prediction is really part of a larger megatrend that has not only been going on for some time but will also continue for many years to come.

Some of the megatrends affecting supply chain management include:

What I will do is make some one year predictions that fall within the confines of the larger megatrends.

Omni-channel – Omni-channel investments by retailers have been all over the news. ARC’s research shows that distributed order management (DOM) is one of two key technologies that retailers need, but don’t have, to ramp up their omni-channel capabilities. However, in all my years as an analyst, I have heard only one speech by a retailer on how their omni-channel implementation improved their multi-channel capabilities, and this speech talked about the implementation at a very high level.

I predict that this is the year I finally see a good presentation by a retailer that goes into depth on the costs, benefits, and difficulties associated with a DOM implementation.

Relentless Competition – The most brutal competition is currently occurring in the shale oil patch where the cost of a barrel of oil has plummeted by over 50 percent in one year. And yet, from a supply chain perspective, this is among the worst supply chains in North America. Further, shale oil producer’s key partners, the oilfield service companies, also run terrible supply chains. In neither industry are you likely to find practitioners talking about their Sales & Operations Planning processes. Now that times are tough, and cost reduction is critical,

I predict that we will finally see Shale Oil companies and Oilfield Services companies explaining to Wall Street how they are implementing a Sales & Operations Planning to improve operations.

RoboticsRobotics in the supply chain actually took a step backward, as Amazon, the owner of Kiva Systems robots for the warehouse, stopped selling these robots and soaked up all the production. But because of relentless competition,

I predict that this is the year we will see new types of mobile robots for the warehouse emerge from other suppliers.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – While the Industrial Internet of Things clearly has great potential, it is also clear is that these technologies are not fully mature. An evolution is continuing to occur and new applications for IIoT continue to emerge. Therefore,

I predict we will continue to hear of new IIoT applications emerging, ways to use remote sensor data to improve supply chain business processes, that never occurred to us.

Big Data – I’m actually stealing this prediction from my colleague David White. It is inevitable that based partially on IIoT and partially on the growing volume of data captured by enterprise applications, big data volumes are going to continue to grow exponentially. Solutions are needed to handle not just the growing volume of data, but also the velocity and variety of data. Complex event processing (CEP) technologies can help to tame data velocity. CEP technologies have been traditionally associated with financial trading.