A computer scientist with extensive experience of supply chain management has predicted that in 2019, procurement will see greater uptake of intelligent technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and predictive analytics to achieve improved cost-reduction and value from their most precious corporate asset: data. Computer scientist, Roger Howells, foresees a ‘tremendous’ increase in the number of organisations using IoT, advanced analytics, and machine learning to extract optimal value from big data and streamline operations, such as supply relationship management and supply chain visibility.
Recently, 22% of 700 executives polled by Forbes Insights, reported that they were implementing IoT to gain visibility in the supply chain, harnessing the data transmitted from smart products with analytics technology to predict what’s coming and enhance business outcomes. Howells believes that the trend will gain momentum this year with more organisations embracing it.
Blockchain technology is also set to move beyond ‘proof of concept’ operations, where it has remained in recent years, into ‘proof of value’ applications, with supply chain being the first area to show the added value of the technology. It is likely to be deployed in areas where a transparent and irrefutable chain of custody must be documented. For example, blockchain can track and authenticate which farms the food served in an organic restaurant came from while minimising counterfeiting and confirming the ethical sourcing that customers expect. More firms will embrace robotics and 3D printing technology to enable them to easily transport the means of manufacturing production – the 3D printer – to wherever demand is needed. Designs can be transmitted through the cloud.
Finally, new generation Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions, integrated with AI and machine learning, will be adopted more vigorously, taking repetitive and laborious tasks away from procurement pros and freeing them to concentrate on more creative business endeavours. As Howells puts it: “AI doesn’t take the person out of the process. It takes the robot out of the person.”