With increasing geopolitical tension, rising inflation rates, and fluctuating supply and demand levels, the global supply chain market has had a volatile year. However, with rising employment levels in the supply chain industry in Canada and various events worldwide bringing together supply chain professionals, it is evident that leaders in this space are prepared to take action against the challenges affecting the ecosystem. It is also clear that supply chain leaders are keen to learn how to utilize the technologies that will help all areas of the supply chain, from sourcing and procurement to last-mile operations. 2024 is projected to be a pivotal year, and many trends should be watched in the first half.
Top Supply Chain Trends to Watch for Next Year
1) Increased Tracking
Interestingly, in many industries and consumers, there has been a push for less activity tracking, especially regarding data privacy. For example, consumers today recognize a considerable amount of ongoing tracking by third-party viewers regarding their online activity. When you’re using Google Chrome without a VPN for Mac, third-party viewers can access your IP address and track your activity, storing information about your online identity. Additionally, many companies are facing staggering fines for violating privacy laws, including Meta, which received a fine of $1.3 billion for breaking EU privacy laws. However, supply chain professionals have a different opinion on tracking, with many calling for more.
When supply chain professionals can’t track the movement of their products from source to consumer, errors can occur. As a result, more retailers and manufacturers are starting to use tracking technologies that will allow them to increase visibility, stay in control, and understand what’s happening in the supply chain in real-time. As Restaurant Business Magazine illustrates, a great example is the American restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill, which started using RFID technology to track its ingredients from its suppliers in real time.
2) AI Technologies
Artificial intelligence is being incorporated across the supply chain, but one area that will see an increase in 2024 is transportation. Truck drivers are an integral part of the supply chain as they are in charge of getting products to end-users. However, concerns over reckless behavior, such as distracted driving, have become a visible supply chain weakness. That said, businesses have started to counter this by using automated coaching and in-cab alerts to improve driver performance. For example, in-cab alerts use preventive AI technology to provide real-time feedback to drivers to improve habits, such as alerting them to put their phones down if detected while driving via an AI dashcam.
3) Demand Planning Solutions
Regardless of where in the supply chain they operate, supply chain professionals are always concerned with whether their supply meets demand expectations. Too much inventory causes storage issues and leads to stock degradation and waste. In contrast, too little inventory and high demand can make a business run out of stock, affecting cost efficiencies. As a result, more and more businesses will utilize demand planning solutions in 2024 to balance their inventory with their performance and cost.
The supply chain affects everyone, from business professionals to consumers. It is also heavily influenced by macroeconomic factors, such as political tension and trade barriers. Fortunately, however, supply chains are also impacted by technology, and over the years, this impact has been positive rather than negative. As we move into 2024, more businesses will incorporate technologies into their supply chain operations, from artificial intelligence to demand planning solutions.