Sep 25, 2023 · 11 min read

Leveraging Digital Technologies for a Smarter Supply Chain

In today's tech-reliant and driven world, companies must strive to achieve smarter supply chains to keep up with their competitors. A smart supply chain can help reduce the impact major disruptions like those seen during the pandemic can have on brands in every industry, even essential industries. 

Fortunately, Integrating digital technologies in supply chain management has been a game-changer for many businesses, enabling them to streamline their operations and reduce costs. In this article, we'll explore the present impact of digital technologies in the supply chain market, the bright future of digital tech for smarter supply chains, and how to implement digital technology into your supply chain model. With this exclusive information from Stimulus Inc., companies can begin to use modern digital tech to optimize their models, create stronger supplier relationships, and outperform their competitors with ease.

The Present Impact of Digital Technologies on the Supply Chain Market

Integrating digital technologies in supply chain management has brought about significant improvements in efficiency, productivity, and profitability for businesses. Technologies such as RFID (radio-frequency identification), GPS (global positioning system), and EDI (electronic data interchange) have been widely adopted to automate and optimize supply chain processes. According to a survey by Gartner, 85% of supply chain professionals believe that digitalization will fundamentally change supply chain management in the next three years.

Since the pandemic, the need for digitalization, streamlining, predictive analytics, and failsafe is at an all-time high. This is why digital tech companies specializing in supply chain management finally have their moment in the limelight, which they rightfully deserve. With a diversified, simplified, and perfected supply chain, brands can avoid setbacks that could quite literally bankrupt and destroy their companies in the blink of an eye otherwise. However, while the present is rewarding, the future undoubtedly paints a far more promising picture.

The Bright Future of Digital Tech for Smarter Supply Chains

The future of supply chain management is exciting and full of potential. New digital technologies are emerging, such as AI (artificial intelligence), blockchain, IoT (Internet of Things), and 5G, which promise to revolutionize the supply chain industry further. 

AI can be used to analyze data and optimize supply chain processes, while blockchain can provide transparency and traceability to supply chain transactions. IoT can be used to monitor and track products in real time, while 5G can provide faster and more reliable communication between devices. These digital technologies will help create a smarter and more efficient supply chain, enabling businesses to respond quickly to changes in demand and supply.

Some fascinating points regarding the future of supply chain technology integration were recently shared on Gartner as well:

  • By 2026, 75% of large enterprises will have adopted some form of intralogistics smart robots in their warehouse operations. 
    By 2026, more than 75% of commercial supply chain management application vendors will deliver embedded advanced analytics (AA), artificial intelligence (AI), and data science.
  • By 2026, 25% of supply chain execution (SCE) vendors will have rewritten their core application to a microservices architecture, but only 5% of supply chain organizations will have adapted to true composability.
  • Through 2025, 25% of supply chain decisions will be made across intelligent edge ecosystems.
  • Through 2026, 80% of companies will suffer significant value loss due to a failure to merge their digital supply chain twin and control tower initiatives. 

These statistics showcase exactly how impactful digital tech will be on this market and how smart supply chains are inevitable. As such, it’s time that company leaders begin to implement digital technologies today in order to achieve full functionality and streamlining well before these methods are considered the status quo.

How to Implement Digital Technology Into Your Supply Chain Model

To implement digital technology into your supply chain model, it's crucial to identify the specific areas that need improvement. However, some of the most common improvement areas include shipment processes, supplier relationships, reliability, product quality, and price. Fortunately, below are six digital tech options that can be used to build a smarter supply chain no matter what problems you may face:

  • RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is an innovative tool for supply chain management and optimization. RFID tags can be placed on products or containers, allowing them to be tracked and monitored throughout the supply chain process. This provides real-time visibility into the movement of goods, allowing companies to identify and address inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and delays in the supply chain. With RFID technology, companies can monitor inventory levels, reduce product loss, and improve the accuracy of shipments.

In addition, RFID technology can help companies improve their overall supply chain management by increasing the accuracy and speed of data collection. With RFID, data can be automatically collected and stored, reducing the need for manual data entry and eliminating errors that may occur with manual data entry. This results in a more efficient and streamlined supply chain process, allowing companies to reduce costs and improve their bottom line. Furthermore, RFID technology can enable companies to better track and manage their products, providing a clear chain of custody from production to delivery, which can be especially useful for industries such as pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, and other regulated industries.

  • GPS (Global Positioning System)

GPS technology, or Global Positioning System technology, can be a powerful tool for companies looking to build a smarter supply chain. By using GPS devices to track shipments in real-time, companies can gain greater visibility into the movement of their goods and identify potential delays or disruptions. This can help them to proactively address any issues and optimize their supply chain to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

In addition to tracking shipments, GPS technology can also be used to improve fleet management. By equipping vehicles with GPS devices, companies can monitor driver behavior, route optimization, and vehicle maintenance needs. This can help them to improve driver safety, reduce fuel consumption, and increase delivery speed. Furthermore, real-time tracking can provide customers with accurate delivery estimates, enhancing customer satisfaction and building brand loyalty. Overall, GPS technology can play a crucial role in building a smarter, more efficient supply chain for companies across a range of industries.

  • EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) technology can help companies build supply chains that are streamlined through digital tech by improving the speed and accuracy of data exchange between trading partners. EDI technology replaces traditional paper-based documentation with electronic documents that are sent and received automatically between computer systems. This enables companies to automate many of the manual processes involved in supply chain management, such as order processing and invoicing, which can lead to significant cost savings and increased efficiency.

One of the key benefits of EDI technology is the ability to improve supply chain visibility. By automating the exchange of information between trading partners, companies can gain real-time visibility into their supply chain, allowing them to track the movement of goods and materials more effectively. This can help companies identify potential bottlenecks or delays in the supply chain, allowing them to take proactive measures to address these issues before they become a problem. Additionally, EDI technology can help reduce the risk of errors and inaccuracies in supply chain data, which can lead to improved decision-making and better overall supply chain performance.

  • AI (Artificial Intelligence)

AI technology has revolutionized the supply chain industry, making it possible to automate and optimize various processes. By using machine learning algorithms, AI can analyze large volumes of data and identify patterns, anomalies, and trends that can help businesses make more informed decisions. For example, AI can help companies to forecast demand accurately and optimize inventory levels, reducing the likelihood of stockouts and overstocking. AI can also be used to optimize transportation routes and modes, reducing transportation costs and delivery times while improving efficiency.

Another area where AI can help build a smarter supply chain is quality control. AI-powered image recognition technology can detect defects in products during the manufacturing process, reducing the likelihood of defective products reaching the end user. Additionally, AI can be used to monitor and optimize supplier performance by analyzing data such as on-time delivery rates, quality, and cost. By doing so, companies can identify areas of improvement and work with their suppliers to make necessary changes, ultimately leading to a more efficient and effective supply chain.

  • Blockchain

Blockchain technology can be a game-changer for supply chain management by providing increased transparency, security, and efficiency. With blockchain, companies can create an immutable and shared ledger of transactions that can be accessed by all parties involved in the supply chain. This can help to reduce the risk of fraud, errors, and delays while increasing trust and accountability. For example, blockchain can help to track and verify the authenticity of products and their components, as well as monitor their location and condition throughout the supply chain. This can help to prevent counterfeiting, diversion, and theft while ensuring compliance with regulations and standards.

Blockchain can also enable more efficient and cost-effective supply chain financing by providing a secure and tamper-proof record of transactions and agreements. This can help to reduce the risk of disputes and delays while increasing the speed and accuracy of payments and settlements. For example, blockchain can help to automate the verification and approval of invoices, purchase orders, and delivery receipts, as well as enable real-time tracking and reconciliation of payments. This can help to improve cash flow, reduce working capital, and enhance supplier relationships by providing timely and transparent financing options.

  • Stimulus Relationship Intelligence Platform (SRIP)

The Stimulus Relationship Intelligent Platform (SRIP) is a powerful tool that can help companies build a smarter supply chain by providing data-driven insights, relationship-building tools, and a proprietary score to optimize and grow their supplier network. With SRIP, companies can make the best purchasing decisions by comparing suppliers based on location, diversity, and other relevant criteria. By leveraging data from both internal and external sources, SRIP can help increase visibility, enhance decision-making, and promote communication of supplier utilization.

In addition to helping companies choose the right suppliers and fulfill their business objectives, SRIP can also be used to identify opportunities and disruptions across the supply chain in real time. By using relevant metrics and multiple data points, SRIP can quickly match suppliers to available contract opportunities, enabling companies to avoid risks and lower costs. With its predictive data analytics, SRIP can also help companies diversify their supply chain by working with smaller suppliers and building stronger relationships with them. Overall, SRIP can be an invaluable tool for companies looking to build a smarter, more efficient supply chain that can adapt to changing market conditions and emerging trends.

Looking Ahead

Digital technologies have revolutionized the supply chain industry, enabling businesses to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance customer satisfaction. By implementing digital technologies such as RFID, GPS, EDI, AI, blockchain, and SRIP, businesses can build a smarter supply chain that can respond quickly to changes in demand and supply, reduce risks, and increase profitability. As the supply chain industry continues to evolve, it's crucial for businesses to keep up with the latest digital tech trends to remain competitive and thrive in today's fast-paced business environment. These methods are the first step down a long and progressively positive path lined with tech innovation and social progress.