Expectations for faster fulfillment and delivery have seeped into the manufacturing world, exemplifying just one more result of the so-called Amazon effect.
JDA surveyed US manufacturers and wholesalers in February 2018 to see how they prioritize tech investments. Fully 43% of respondents said they were investing in inventory optimization to meet consumer demand and compete with Amazon, while 41% said they were focused on integrating planning and execution technologies.
Only 18% of those polled currently operate a fully integrated digital supply chain, but this is a priority for most. Some 70% of respondents said supply chain digitalization is a major initiative or will become a major priority within 12 months. When digging deeper, the most popular technology used right now as part of their company's supply chain strategy is the internet of things (IoT), cited by 57% of respondents. Cloud-based applications, mobile applications and advanced analytics were also important.
The possibilities of consumer IoT applications are a little more exciting, but using this tech operationally is clearly a high priority for manufacturers. There are many potential applications for the supply chain. Goods could be tagged with RFID or other sensors to better track inventory, planning, shipping, or even to collect and relay data like length of time at a location or temperature during storage.
When Dell Technologies asked business leaders worldwide in August 2017 which tasks they anticipated being automated by 2030, 42% selected inventory management, the highest rate among those listed. Logistics and supply chain was also high on the list, cited by 37% of respondents. This timeframe is considerably further out than the two to three years considered by the manufacturers in the JDA study, but their short-term investments are laying the foundation.