Mastering the Digital Supply Chain

As supply chain professionals, we must be able to enter new geographies and onboard new vendors, carriers, or trading partners, and even introduce new product lines, within days. We must do all of this while maintaining compliance, consistency, cost, and social responsibility. A fully digital supply chain was never more important

Download the PDF

Speed Is the New Predictor of Success

Business has changed. The companies that deliver innovation faster win. Nowhere is this more evident than the supply chain. Companies that can quickly convert opportunities into products and put them in consumers’ hands have a direct advantage over their peers.

As supply chain professionals, we must be able to enter new geographies and onboard new vendors, carriers, or trading partners, and even introduce new product lines, within days. We must do all of this while maintaining compliance, consistency, cost, and social responsibility.

digital supply chain

Evolving Supply Chains

We can’t design a supply chain once and execute repeatedly. Our supply chains are in a constant state of flux. New channels, trade lanes, and capacity constraints appear every day. Systems based on a static network and static milestones simply can’t keep up.

We can’t just throw it all away and start over. Even if we could, we shouldn’t. We have great tools that can do amazing things. TMS, OMS, WMS, and ERP systems have revolutionized our business, and we couldn’t live without them.

Instead, we need to empower these systems by connecting them more intelligently. We need to support them with the latest cloud AI, blockchain, and IOT tools. We need to embrace agility and leverage our existing investments to support our companies at the new speed of business.

The digital supply chain is all about pairing the old with the new - making use of what we have, while supplementing it with practical new technology. At Chain.io, we’re excited about this journey and welcome you to come along with us.

What Is the Industry Saying?

“While software can’t solve all geo-political, supply chain infrastructure, and trade issues, we do believe that the rise of new digital solutions in this legacy, paper-based industry will go a long way towards streamlining workflows and optimizing operations. Ultimately, software is the key to building and managing more resilient supply chains that will help society better cope with massive shocks in the future.”

- Bessemer Venture Partners, Roadmap: Supply Chain Software

“A decade ago, investment in logistics software for integrations between multiple solutions was known for being arduous and inefficient. Today, systems are more easily integrated with one another and software providers are more apt to partner with each other. Logistics software buyers expect systems to be interoperable, expect data to flow smoothly between whichever system they choose, and don’t expect to need to do the work on those integrations themselves.”

- Eric Johnson, Senior Editor, Journal of Commerce

“Companies’ ability to forecast demand and determine how to meet it has been further challenged by supply chains’ increasingly global scope. And supply-chain leaders haven’t done themselves any favors by clinging to manual systems and antiquated software.”

- McKinsey & Company, Supply Chain IT Report

“Collaboration is the future of business. We can see this happening with not only blockchain and the sharing of data, but with the speed of change rapidly increasing, and it will only push us to work more together. Not recognizing this, not being agile, and most importantly not being open, will leave your company behind and struggling to keep up and stay profitable.”

- Sarah Barnes-Humphrey, Host, Let’s Talk Supply Chain

How Did We Get Here?

To look at where we’re going, we have to look back at where we’ve been. The last five years have been about building out technology and systems for future-ready supply chains.

In 2017, we were just seeing the first inklings of global supply chain instability driven by new tariffs. Tech investments in logistics were ramping up, but were still highly fragmented. Some innovations were a response to new regulations, like the ELD mandate, and some were solutions in search of a problem, like blockchain for blockchain’s sake.

Most LSPs and shippers were interested in logistics technology at a departmental or divisional level, but it was not a boardroom conversation.

digital supply chain

New Tech Abounds

As a result of this new interest in tech, a convergence of solutions was brought to market using technology that didn’t practically exist five years earlier:

  • APIs
  • Blockchain
  • Internet of Things (IOT)
  • Machine Learning
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • 4G/5G

Large amounts of energy were spent by non-technical leaders trying to understand these new technologies and figure out if and how they would impact the business. Over the past five years, what were once just buzzwords have been codified into solution bundles that address real business problems.

  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
  • Predictive ETA
  • Dynamic Pricing
  • Physical Device Tracking

Where Are We Going?

We’re entering a more business-focused cycle in LogTech where business executives must spend less time focusing on the tech coming out of research and development and more time cajoling the tech in the marketplace to improve and protect their bottom lines.

Because of constant instability, business executives don’t have time to play with technology for technology’s sake. They need real solutions that are tied to business outcomes. New technologies support these demands, but integration is often an afterthought in our legacy systems.

The world we operate in will be significantly different in five years, but it is unlikely to be more stable or predictable. The environmental, political, and economic impacts of population growth will trend us away from the models we have used for supply chains over the past 30 years to a more dynamic worldview.

Read the article: The Most Valuable Tech in Supply Chain Isn't Sexy

Tech Solves Business Problems

APIs allow us to exchange more information in smaller increments. IOT moves us closer to a real-time view of the physical world. Blockchain promises the holy grail of trusted data sharing. Artificial intelligence is there to make sense of this data tsunami.

Technology will adapt to be more immediately applicable to business problems. We can no longer hold our trading partners at arm’s length. To achieve speed, we must share data (safely and securely) wherever possible. Instead of asking “How much must I share?” we need to ask “How much can I share?”

How Do We Move Forward?

We have too much invested in our existing systems to start over. We’re trying to go faster, and expensive, multi-year projects make us slower. Instead, we should build small, reusable interfaces across the surface area of our legacy systems. Plug those interfaces into modern API-enabled solutions for our evolving business challenges.

Increase agility by avoiding complex modifications in favor of simple interfaces. Maximize collaboration by allowing trading partners to leverage their existing investments via adaptable connections.

Chain.io Enables Your Digital Supply Chain.

Our lightweight, cloud connectivity platform is purpose-built for modern supply chain collaboration.

That’s all we do.

We'd love to have a short conversation to understand where you are with digitization and show you how we can help connect you to customers and trading partners along the global supply chain.

Let's talkhttps://chain.io/book-a-demo


written on April 2, 2022

Stay up to date with all things Chain.io

Chain.io needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at anytime. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, check out our Privacy Policy.