The increased complexity and distribution of the modern supply chain requires innovative logistics execution solutions.
In the past year, 49% of supply chain leaders have accelerated spending in digital technologies to make their operations more responsive, and the role of COVID-19 likely cannot be understated here. The pandemic exposed deep vulnerabilities in the global supply chain, pushing industries and businesses to lean into the benefits of AI, machine learning and other digital technologies — benefits that are continuing to reshape their operations even as recovery efforts pick up steam.
Here’s why logistics providers of all sizes need to consider updating their execution and visibility solutions.
Using outdated logistics execution technology has risks
Modern supply chains are more globalized and complex than previous iterations, with responsibilities outsourced to increasingly distributed networks of partners and service providers. This can require engaging with hundreds of points of contact in order to provide a customer with a particular good or service. This model quickly becomes difficult to monitor and control without the use of technologies that streamline the management process.
Furthermore, without the logistics execution and visibility that new technologies provide, businesses are essentially resigning themselves to operating reactively. Put another way, it’s difficult to manage risk, operational vulnerabilities and regulatory compliance issues without the ability to monitor for and identify those risks and issues in the first place. Once identified, the best supply chain technology gives stakeholders the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities and avoid shipping disruptions. Likewise, it’s a challenge for logistics partners to establish control and governance protocols for managing their partner networks without a technology platform that allows them to do so effectively within a deliberate, customizable, and supportive framework.
Supply chain stakeholders should look to machine learning and AI
AI technologies are perhaps the most significant change driver in logistics. Not only do they allow companies to manage, monitor and track the movements of goods and services in real time, they also make it possible to collect precise data sets and accurately identify patterns which can then be analyzed for actionable insights. This enables organizations to use their own operational and performance data to guide their strategies and decision-making processes going forward. AI technologies can also be used to identify and manage risk proactively, rather than after the fact.
There are other benefits too: AI and machine learning help facilitate collaboration and communication between teams and partners, while also automating routine tasks, digitizing of manual processes and consolidating and centralizing critical business information. This can even help realign resources to prioritize the customer experience, increasing satisfaction levels. Machine learning is infinitely valuable when “teaching” systems to avoid supply chain chokepoints and optimize processes based on historical data.
Implementing new supply chain execution solutions can bring challenges
Adopting new supply chain technologies isn’t as simple as ordering a new solution and waiting for it to arrive. In fact, adopting new technologies can be an incredibly disruptive process without deliberate preparation. This can be seen by looking at new customer adoptions, where integrations to new systems can take months or years, and on the M&A side of the business; it takes supply chain technology providers that don’t grow organically and instead focus on buying news systems by acquiring companies quite a while to integrate new processes into existing systems.
The advantages of new technology typically justify their adoption — so long as it’s clear how the new technology will help the company overcome operational challenges. However, rolling out any new technological initiative (especially something like AI, which tends to transform how businesses operate from the ground up) can prove incredibly disruptive without proper change management processes in place. Any new supply chain technology typically requires training to maximize effectiveness and improve how companies leverage their data collection efforts. Proper training programs also help to ensure employee buy-in and prevent confusion.
As the first carbon-neutral logistics provider, Blume Global offers innovative and sustainable supply chain solutions to reduce costs, streamline efficiency and mitigate exposure to supply chain risk. The company leverages decades of experience to make its solutions available to providers of different sizes — from small trucking operations to international multi-modal enterprises — and it is committed to removing $1 trillion of waste from the global supply chain. Visit Blume Global’s site to learn more about its full range of logistics solutions.