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Routeique Jan 12, 2022 3:22:00 PM 6 min read

Our Thoughts on Supply Chain Trends to Watch in 2022

Supply Chain Trends That Impacted 2021, and Trends to Watch in 2022

Despite the fact that the last few years have looked very different for everyone, including those in supply chains, the industry continues to push forward. We’re coming out of 2021 with a multitude of new trends that shaped the last year, as well as new trends taking center stage that will no doubt be crucial in the year ahead. 

Here are the most impactful trends of 2021, and those to keep your eye on in 2022. 

 

Impactful Supply Chain Trends of 2021

As we highlighted in a past post, leading into 2021 there was a strong focus on supply chain resiliency and an increase in eCommerce. Additionally, supply chain automation and compliance were hot topics.

 

Supply Chain Resiliency

With the continuation of the pandemic, along with the arrival of the omicron variant, supply chain professionals have been reminded how important resiliency is to the success of their operations. This is especially true when it comes to planning for every eventuality. 

According to a 2020 report from the Capgemini Research Institute, 66% of organizations polled said their supply chain practices will need to significantly change to adapt to a new normal following COVID. Many of these companies have been adapting tools and technology to improve their preparedness moving forward, with 84% of respondents in the same study stating that using simulations to improve their preparedness is a key focal point of their organizations now. 

 

Compliance

Compliance within the supply chain has become an increasingly important, and sometimes difficult, thing to master. Whether it’s ELD regulations, or the ever-changing and unpredictable restrictions brought on by the pandemic, compliance has never been more important to stay on top of. 

In Assent’s 2021 State of Compliance report, the top three challenges faced by supply chain professionals when it comes to compliance are:

  • Evolving regulations
  • Increased customer data requests
  • Manual processes

However, while manual processes are one of the top three challenges for companies, over half of respondents also claimed their data collection comes primarily from manual processes. 

Throughout the last year, many professionals in the industry have realized that digital processes allow for more accuracy and better compliance with the variety of regulations and customer demands we’ve seen arise in 2021. 

 

Supply Chain Automation

Throughout the last year, automation has proven itself as one of the strongest solutions to the variety of challenges being presented by the transformation of the workforce landscape created by both natural progressions in the industry, and those created by the pandemic. 

Labor shortages have been on the rise this last year, leading many to turn to automation to fill these gaps. These shortages are expected to remain, with many warehouse laborers choosing to seek higher skilled work, even opting to work in the science and technology field, working on the very automated systems that are taking their places in the supply chain. While automation has always had a reputation for “stealing” jobs, Forbes clarifies, “Many workers are voluntarily choosing to not go back to jobs in manual labor or service industries as they reassess career prospects and consider training programs that will enhance technology and business skills.”

 

Increased E-Commerce

As the pandemic continues, and practices to remain distant from one another cement themselves in everyday life, companies with little e-commerce experience are moving to an increased focus on an online experience for their customers. According to Reviewlution, by the end of 2020, global retail e-commerce sales reached $4.28 trillion, jumping by 24% in December alone. Much of this is due to the pandemic, with Reviewlution also mentioning a potential slight resurgence in in-person retail sales in the coming years. 

Some of these trends will continue to be crucial in the coming years as they, and the industry, evolve.

 

Our Team’s Predictions: Supply Chain Trends To Watch in 2022

Moving forward into the new year, many emerging technologies and practices have the potential to be invaluable to supply chain professionals, and whether or not their effectiveness is proven down the road, keeping a watchful eye on them throughout 2022 is important. 

 

Digital Twins

Digital twins are a fantastic technology to use in order to gain insights on the layout and procedures of your warehouse operation, as well as allowing you to make alterations to those layouts and procedures, before any costly implementation. The level of accuracy that digital twins can reach is unprecedented, and companies are only just beginning to see their usefulness in the supply chain. 

A 2021 report published on industryresearch.co projects that the digital twin market will grow by $24.81 billion between 2021 and 2025. 

 

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing continues to grow over the years, with many factors leading to its domination in various industries. With things like increased demand for security, global digital transformation, and increased interest in AI/ML, cloud computing is becoming an increasingly adopted practice, especially with more and more companies opting for the work-from-home method during the pandemic. 

A 2021 report from Grand View Research, Inc. states that the cloud computing market could be worth $1251.09 billion by 2028 thanks to these and other global factors.

 

Cognitive Automation

Cognitive automation refers to the culmination of a lot of the trends we are talking about now, coming together to allow companies in the supply chain to make predictive and intelligent decisions based on the most accurate and in-depth data gained by utilizing various tools and technologies. 

We have seen in these last few years that it is better to be on the proactive side of things than solely the reactive. Businesses are realizing more than ever that adopting these technologies creates a much safer and secure operation that in turn becomes more resilient to whatever might be thrown at it. We are only going to see more and more of these technologies and practices adopted as they advance in both availability and capability. 

 

Right-Sized Robotics

Robotics and automation are a great way to lower costs, improve accuracy and productivity, and increase customer satisfaction overall. Some might wish to find a robotics solution capable of tackling a multitude of tasks within their operation, however, many supply chain businesses are seeking specialized robots that handle one specific task. The more jobs you require a single robot to do, the slower and less accurate it will become overall, as well as greatly increasing the cost. 

Choosing these smaller robotic systems allows you to save money and have faster, more efficient processes throughout your operation. 

 

Cyber Security

Cyber security is something that becomes a stronger consideration every year as technology advances. With many people working from home, cyber security may also look different when businesses consider how to keep their information safe. 

In a 2021 report from Norton, a NET of 75% of respondents agreed that working from home makes it much easier for cybercriminals to take advantage of people. With advancements in technology, companies are looking to a variety of ways that protect their sensitive information, from software, increased training, and consulting. 

As the global supply chain expands, the need for security across large partner networks is becoming crucial as well. 

 

Paving The Way For The Future

We’re excited to be a part of the supply chain industry, and getting to see these trends in action, as well as being an active participant in how some of these trends will evolve in the future. 

Having a richer understanding of these trends can help you see where the supply chain industry is heading, allowing you to be better prepared for a sometimes uncertain future. 

If you want to learn more about how Routeique can help your operation pave the way for the future, book an intro call with us today,

 

BOOK AN INTRO CALL NOW

 

or continue to browse our website for more information. For weekly roundups of trends in the supply chain space, be sure to follow our LinkedIn