2019’s top procurement and supply chain trends to watch out for

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Every new year brings advancements in new and existing technology, offering procurement and supply chain teams new ways to enhance their efficiency. 2019 is set to be no different. So, what are some of the key new trends to keep an eye on this year?

1. Supply chain digitalisation

Across every sector, digitisation is shaking up the traditional ways of doing things. Procurement and the supply chain are no exception.

A 2018 survey from Forrester Research – a market research and advisory firm – discovered that 60% of enterprise organisations and 54% of mid-market organisations are prioritising the digitalisation of their procurement and supply chain processes. This is backed-up further by a study by cloud-based solution provider, Jaggaer, which found 52% of the most advanced companies are considering implementing a digital assistant – an AI application programme designed to assist with the completion of tasks.

With the advancement of technologies such as the ‘internet of things’ (IoT), 5G and the cloud, companies are better equipped to capture, share and interrogate data – often in real time. This is enabling enhanced analytical insights and increased efficiencies to be achieved throughout the procurement and movement of goods.

Ultimately, these advances in technology will give companies a dynamic and resilient supply chain operation - leading to increased customer satisfaction and profits.

2. Enhanced supply chain visibility

As described above, advances in technology have improved the data available to businesses. Leading logistics companies are embracing this to achieve greater visibility throughout their end-to-end operations.

The implementation of IoT systems will allow companies to effectively monitor product movement. For instance, according to Daniel Newman – principal analyst at research and analytics firm, Futurum – GPS sensors will allow supply chains to track products from ‘floor to store’.

Furthermore, the analytics gained through these developing technologies are providing enhanced supply chain data, allowing businesses to strategically forecast and make decisions to optimise product inventory management, storage and transport. In this way, they are better equipped to oversee end-to-end supply chain processes from procurement and manufacturing through to delivery.

As these technologies progress, both procurement and supply chain teams will continue to reap the rewards of improved customer relationships and streamlined logistics, ultimately leading to increased profits.

3. Advancements in automation and AI

Over the last few years there has been rapid growth in automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. These systems are transforming the way businesses work, providing supply chain and procurement teams significant benefits to efficiency, such as reduced labour time and costs. As a result, businesses can utilise their workforce for more complex and demanding processes.

Procurement is already evolving in response to these technologies, as demonstrated by a survey of around 600 procurement professionals conducted by Michael Page UK, a procurement and supply chain recruitment specialist. The survey found 92% of those surveyed believe that by 2030, procurement will be radically different. With regards to tech, 42% of those professionals indicated a belief that their tasks will be automated in the coming-future. This belief is understandable. After all, according to IT services consultancy business, Infosys, the transition has already begun. The firm estimates that 2019 will bring further AI and procurement automation, eliminating up to 15% of human intervention in digital spending.

As we move further into 2019, AI, automation and machine learning will continue to be implemented throughout procurement and supply chain processes. These technologies will assist procurement through enhanced analytics, whilst optimising supply chains – for instance, through superior transport routes.

4. Capacity crunches and rising of autonomous vehicles

Over the last few years, truck driver shortages have begun to rise due to a reduction in new applicants to replace an ageing workforce. With the reduction in drivers, many supply chains are finding carriers are idle in ports, waiting for trucks to collect their cargo.

However, as tracking and monitoring technologies advance further in 2019, these systems mean drivers can perform more deliveries in a shorter time period, keeping goods moving through the supply chain more efficiently.

Furthermore, as technologies such as automation, advanced sensors and IoT develop, companies could see the implementation of driverless vehicles in the years ahead.
Ultimately, as additional procurement activities become digitised and automated, supply chains will continue to gain greater insight and analytics over both the procurement spend and movement of goods. So, during 2019 procurement and supply chain teams can expect to get closer to achieving a truly strategic and streamlined approach.

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