When the audience was polled about which supply chain roles are the most difficult to fill, 30% indicated planning as No. 1, and 21% stated logistics and fulfillment as No. 2.
5. When to expect fully autonomous supply chains
The supply chain of the future has already arrived for some of our respondents. A small amount (6%) of enterprises either have planning functions automated with RPA and machine learning, and/or are now using robots to fulfill orders. For these companies, driverless trucks and forklifts are next. The reality and expectation is not if companies will have autonomous supply chains, but when. When asked about timing, more than 50% of supply chain SVP/EVPs said they expect mostly autonomous supply chains by 2025. These results were mostly fueled by automotive, industrial products, retailers and consumer products firms.
Sustainability is also top of mind for respondents. When asked about their supply chain priorities for the next three years, survey respondents cited sustainability as the No. 2 priority. Once a PR talking point, executives now realize that sustainability makes good business sense, in addition to being good for the environment. With improved means to gather data through IoT, and analyze data across the supply chain, it is now possible to quantify the financial benefits of sustainability.
When discussing the relevance of sustainability on supply chain, Glenn Steinberg said, "Sustainability is not a marketing ploy, it is not a corporate social responsibility kind of thing — it is a requirement." To which Regenia Sanders added, "Young people want to work for a company they believe in and want those companies to be corporate responsible citizens in terms of environmental impact and carbon footprint. Those things are critically important when younger professionals are choosing which company they want to work for."
As digital rolls forward and technology disrupts markets, change becomes the true constant. Now is the time for leadership to embrace change as an opportunity and a catalyst for future growth. This is the age of transformation, and supply chains are no exception. Company and supply chain leaders should consider these five topics as they grapple with what an autonomous future involves.