Yes, it’s true. You blinked and it is November – that time of the year when we all start to look back at the year gone by. Here in the United States, we are also preparing for Thanksgiving on the 24th. When the ISCOblog team challenged me to write a Thanksgiving-themed post, my initial instinct was to look back at 2016. As hard as I tried, though, my thoughts were continually drawn forward to the supply chain opportunities yet to come.
Although we don’t yet know how 2017 will turn out, we have been handed a set of circumstances that can be seized and combined by ambitious members of the supply chain community. We live in a rapidly changing world, and all innovation offers us an opportunity to evaluate it and then do a better job than the competition of harnessing its potential. Stability may bring less risk, but it also offers fewer chances to stand out or make a difference. Therefore, as grateful as I am for the events already in the books, I’m most hopeful and enthusiastic to see how the innovation of today becomes the competitive advantage of tomorrow.
I am particularly grateful for…
Revolutionary Service Models
The fact that we can now have near to anything delivered ‘as-a-Service’ opens the door to instant, flexible, capabilities free from the ugly connotations that have traditionally dogged outsourcing efforts. Don’t want traditional services? Try Robotic Process Automation on for size and scale your impact without adding to headcount. In keeping with the idea of innovation and expanded value potential, however, no service model should be evaluated just for its ability to reduce the cost of what we are doing today. Lower costs are important, but more for the fact that they reduce risk and lower the uphill climb to ROI. If ever there was a time to try something new in cooperation with a third party service provider, it is now.
Unmanned Transport Innovation
Driverless cars are getting so close to being a consumer reality that we would be foolish not to think of the role they could play in the B2C space. Uber is already talking about incorporating driverless vehicles in their fleet, so why not consider the possibility of driverless freight? And if we are willing to consider trucks with no drivers, why not take it a step further and think about freight with no trucks at all. They may be the fodder of Superbowl commercials today, but drones may be reducing the cost and inefficiency of the ‘last mile’ of logistics sooner than anyone thinks.
The SpaceX Dragon
If you need proof that the future is here, consider the SpaceX Dragon. Originally designed for human transport into outer space, the Dragon has made 11 successful resupply trips to the International Space Station (ISS) since 2010. I love the idea of needing to optimize a supply chain to the stars. Even though few of us will ever be directly involved with such efforts, the knowledge and innovation associated with more complex logistics are bound to trickle down. There is a world of possibility that lies between traditional logistics and ‘indirect space spend’ and we ought to be grateful that the relevant frontier gives us the opportunity to push ourselves so far.
In addition to reflecting upon the past year and giving thanks for a whole host of potential opportunities, we should also recognize and appreciate the camaraderie of colleagues in other functional roles. And since we can’t all be lucky enough to work in the field of supply chain, we ought to give thanks for everyone satisfied with working in sales, finance, human resources, etc. After all, without them, we wouldn’t get to focus on our role as part of the most exciting team at the most exciting time!
What supply chain technologies/innovations are you grateful for?
Header Photo: zaozaa19/shutterstock.com
Photo in text: Beskova Ekaterina/shutterstock.com