ASCM inspires with the top Supply Chain trends of 2021

Our rapidly changing world is confronting Supply Chain managers with new uncertainties, unprecedented technological developments, and social shifts. The Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) has created an overview of the most important trends that are transforming the Supply Chain profession.

The coronavirus crisis was an eye-opener for Supply Chain professionals. Yet many of the developments we are seeing today had been coming for some time. They put an end to the certainties of the late twentieth century, which formed the basis for globalized logistics networks. As we face the current uncertainties and risks, resilient Supply Chains can offer a solution.

This is evidenced in a recent study by the ASCM, the umbrella organization of the renowned Supply Chain brands APICS and SCOR. As a Premier Elite Channel Partner of ASCM, Moore Belgium/CIMCIL provides numerous Supply Chain training courses for hundreds of students each year.

As a global leader in the field of Supply Chain transformation, ASCM is excited to share the most important Supply Chain evolutions occurring right now. ASCM’s Research, Innovation and Strategy Sensing Subcommittee has conducted extensive research in this area, and we can see that the emerging trends present not only major challenges but also compelling opportunities for many companies.

1. Risk management makes companies re-evaluate logistics networks

Supply Chains are becoming increasingly complex and interconnected. When one part of the network is exposed to risk, it can have an impact on the entire network. Companies that focus on building a resilient Supply Chain and risk prevention will be better armed against unexpected events. In this way, they can mitigate adverse events faster than the competition and take market share.

2. Flexible shipping and fulfillment solutions support the e-commerce boom

The coronavirus crisis has driven even more consumers toward online shopping. This forces companies to develop new and innovative last-mile delivery solutions. Fulfillment centers are being turned into retail stores, delivery vehicles are becoming pick-up points and consumers are helping to deliver packages. In order to provide the customer with optimal service, it is important to provide as many delivery options as possible.

3. Digitization is driving Supply Chain integration

We see a clear transformation from loosely connected sets of data and processes toward a fully integrated end-to-end Supply Chain. This evolution significantly enhances visibility. By sharing information and harmonizing worldwide data, the focus will shift from putting out fires as they occur to adequately predicting and preventing disruptions to the Supply Chain.

4. Supply Chain talent is increasingly being recognized

A robust strategy to attract and retain Supply Chain talent is becoming ever more necessary. Even more than today, companies will call on temporary flexible expertise (via operational consultants and contractors). In addition, partnerships with universities and other organizations will allow to develop flexible programs that are preparing current and future industry professionals for the Supply Chains of tomorrow. Young people, women, and minorities are also increasingly being encouraged to pursue a Supply Chain career.

5. 3D printing is helping companies operate more sustainably and become more resilient

The Coronavirus crisis stimulated companies in a number of sectors to (temporarily) turn to 3D printing to reduce pressure on the Supply Chain by reducing sudden peaks or shortages. The printing of medical equipment is a good example. By combining 3D printing with traditional processes, on the one hand we get pieces that are printed close to the customer in a sustainable way and on the other hand, those pieces that are better produced at a lower cost than in a traditional process.

6. Analytics and extensive automation are becoming integrated in Supply Chain planning

We see a clear acceleration in the implementation of artificial intelligence and machine learning for predictive and prescriptive analytics. The impact of this within the end-to-end chain will continue to increase. Businesses that harness the power of big data and automation will have a competitive advantage in visibility, efficiency, quality, and profitability.

7. Cybersecurity will become indispensable in robust Supply Chains

Artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IOT) are generating an explosion of data and data-driven processes. This also increases vulnerability within systems and tools (social engineering, hacking, ransomware, data leaks,.). Protecting data is becoming a major challenge for companies. Supply Chains will have to pull out all the stops to protect their networks, equipment, people, and programs.

8. IoT is revolutionizing the tracking of shipments and inventory

IoT and sensor technology allow significantly increased visibility and real-time tracking of raw materials and final products. Sensors are also becoming cheaper and more reliable. The rapid developments in this area make Supply Chain networks more responsive and competitive.

9. Corporate citizenship is both a challenge and an opportunity

Consumers have ever higher expectations in terms of ethics and corporate citizenship. This makes companies think even more about the way they source, produce, and deliver their products. Initiatives in this area can lead to price increases and challenges around product availability, so there is both a challenge and an opportunity to respond to this evolution.

10. Green logistics chains and Industry 4.0 can no longer be ignored

More and more people are concerned about the impact of climate change. Governments are working on measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Logistical flows are also being investigated and it is expected that a number of industrial activities will again take place closer to the sales market, in order to reduce the CO2 footprint. Industry 4.0 can become a driving force in this.

Contact one of our experts? 

Joël Wijns (Partner Business Consulting)

Jan-Frederik Van Overschée ( Senior Manager Business Consulting)

Source: ASCM inspires with the top Supply Chain trends of 2021 (