What's Your—and Your Company's—Degree of Supply Chain Digital Consciousness?
MODEX will be held March 9-12, 2020 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. For more information or to register, please visit modexshow.com
The age of the digital supply chain is here. How do I know? Because 1,000-plus industry leaders across manufacturing and distribution supply chains told us so in the survey that informed MHI's sixth Annual Industry Report, "Elevating Supply Chain Digital Consciousness."
The report again explores the latest trends in current and planned investments in digital technologies like robotics and automation, predictive analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), wearable and mobile devices, and driverless vehicles and drones.
Among the highlights of the survey: Confirmation (again) that digital technologies and innovations continue to fuel increasingly demanding customer expectations for better, faster, and more transparent service. Likewise, the report validates that companies who respond to those challenges by embracing a digital mindset will reap the benefits of a digital supply chain that is agile, fully automated, and self-learning.
Further, respondents reported their projected spending on digital technologies is up by 95%—after a trend of survey respondents reporting a decline in planned investments from 2015 to 2018. That uptick indicates that companies' forecasted spend on supply chain innovations is at a critical inflection point.
And yet, even with investments on the upswing, not every company is moving along the digital path at the same pace. The 2019 MHI Annual Industry Report defines four stages of digital adoption.
At the outset, companies invest in the technologies that enable digital connectivity: Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and storage, sensors and automatic identification, and blockchain/distributed ledger technologies. These systems enable an organization to harvest pertinent information across the links of the supply chain.
The second stage is the adoption of technologies that allow the data to be acted upon more quickly and—in some cases—automatically. These investments include robotics and automation, wearable and mobile technology, autonomous vehicles and drones, and 3D printing systems.
Increased advancement in analytics is the hallmark of stage three, achieved by investments in predictive analytics and inventory/network optimization systems. With a degree of automation in place, analytics can not only be forward-looking but also prescriptive; that is, making recommendations for actions to take in response to what's likely to happen.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the apex of the digital adoption pyramid. With this capability, computers take the analytics from the previous stage, run millions of comparative calculations simultaneously, determine the best course of action, and then take it, instantaneously—without human intervention. Human intelligence can be freed from its focus on mundane, routine activities to instead focus on true challenges and exceptions within a supply chain.
In conjunction with the report, MHI developed a self-assessment for benchmarking supply chain digital consciousness. Intended as a way to help companies better understand both their degree of awareness and their own progress in achieving a digital supply chain, the assessment, called the Supply Chain Digital Consciousness Index (DCI), and the report are available at mhi.org/dci.
The Supply Chain DCI quantifies an organization's current level of supply chain digital consciousness, as well as measures progress made toward desired end-state. The intent is to help firms determine the current state of their digital consciousness, then identify and prioritize gaps in order to develop a comprehensive strategy for digital consciousness that meets their unique business goals.
As another step in improving your supply chain operations, I invite you to attend MODEX 2020. As the most comprehensive international manufacturing and supply chain expo held in the United States in 2020, MODEX's 950 exhibitors will display the latest technologies and solutions that support digital supply chains across 325,000 square feet of show floor. You can also attend more than 150 educational conference sessions.