5 Supply Chain Trends We're Looking Forward To In 2018


4. People who misuse the word “literally”

Once again, it’s my favorite time of year- obligatory list season!  A time when we at SCM Connections get to make our own wild predictions about what will happen in the supply chain management world while the earth spins around the sun one more time. This time, I’ll be talking about the supply chain trends that we’re looking forward to most in the new year. So without further delay, here are SCM Connections’ top 5 trends to look forward to in 2018:


  1. Good Information Technology Solutions Will Be Just the Cost of Entry

In the past, it was good enough to deliver on the functional specification development, hit testing expectations, and do it all on time and on budget… but not anymore.  We’ve seen a trend across all organizations to expect more from your IT team. It’s not enough to deliver the requirement; now you have to build a better requirement.  Improve processes, don’t just implement them.  This is the differentiator, and as IT and business become more intertwined, the best resources will be fluent in both system and supply chain processes.


  1. Nerdiness Will Become More Standard

    settlers of catan game board
    Don’t worry – It’s okay to let your nerd flag fly

This isn’t quite a revolution as it is an evolution, in that “nerd-ism” is becoming much more accessible.  That doesn’t mean playing Settlers of Catan on your weekly game night without having to draw the curtains in shame (Cones of Dunshire anyone?).  Instead, this means that it’s becoming easier, more useful, and more accessible to use the tools that were once relegated strictly to the domain of only your nerdiest computer scientists.  Now, regular everyday Joes and Janes can work in advanced algorithms and build solutions using R and Python. This allows them to produce results formerly approachable by only heavy duty statisticians and developers.  As the tools become more accessible, we all become a bit nerdier… in a good way.


  1. There Will be a Proliferation of Solutions

Solutions are becoming easier to build, develop and integrate.  Which means smaller, tactical apps can be built in-house or for specific scenarios that were previously solved with workarounds. The ease of integration and variety of cloud-hosted platforms provide power and scalability that makes small solutions viable rather than cost-prohibitive.  These solutions will fragment the market and give the little guys the leverage to compete against anyone with more focused, niche products.


  1. Response Will Respond

The supply chain world has been waiting for SAP to build out the remaining IBP solution to make their cloud-based Integrated Business Planning solution come to life.  And this is the year it becomes a real boy.  We’ve developed a demo of the latest version and it’s just about ready to go (SCM Connections loves a good optimizer, so we’ll wait for that to come before we declare it “arrived”).  However, I believe that this is the year that IBP fills out its portfolio. This is when the integration really begins to shine.


  1. Continued Harmonization of Process and Technology

I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who once said that if technology is done right, it shouldn’t be noticed it all (or maybe that was Bill Gates…).  Elegant solutions supporting best-in-class processes are quickly becoming the norm.  Supply chains will no longer bow to solution or hardware limitations, and good projects will appear seamless to your users.  So when someone asks “is that it?” you should take it as a complement.  We can always make things more complicated, but that costs extra.


And finally, one thing we don’t expect to see:

Practical Widespread Use of Blockchain

I’d offer a hefty prize for finding 2 people that can give a consistent definition of the future of blockchain.  I’m not sure that it isn’t useful- it’s just a new technology still looking for its place in the world.  The real world moves slower than blockchain’s potential, and we’re maybe 2-3 years away from seeing it realize its maturity.


Read Mike’s other blogs:

Venturing (Way) South of the Border: Lessons Learned from South Africa

The Value of Conferences (or, “How to Justify a Boondoggle”)

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