5 trends on the growing role of digitization in supply chain

SCM World, a global community of supply chain professionals, recently closed its annual Future of Supply Chains survey after polling 1,415 practitioners.

According to Kevin O'Marah, chief content officer of SCM World, survey results showed large jumps in the perceived importance of digitization technologies.

In a recent Forbes column, Mr. O'Marah discussed the survey findings and identified five digitization trends emerging within the supply chain industry.

1. 3D printing. In the past 26 months, the amount of supply chain executives in healthcare and pharmaceutical settings who see 3D printing as important jumped six-fold, according to Mr. O'Marah. Forty percent of respondents listed the technology as important and disruptive to the supply chain industry in the 2016 SCM World survey.

2. Uberization. In 2014, only 8 percent of survey respondents marked "sharing economy or Uberization" as a potentially disruptive technology for supply chain strategy. Two years later, that figure has tripled to 27 percent.

3. The internet of things, the cloud, digital supply chain technologies and machine learning. In the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry, 56 percent of respondents viewed these technologies as disruptive and important in SCM World's 2016 survey. According to Mr. O'Marah, these technologies represent the fulfillment centers of the future for high-tech manufacturers.

4. Cloud computing. While 51 of the survey respondents listed the technology as disruptive and important — up from 49 percent of respondents last year — the technology's growth is flattening as cloud-based applications and computing power are now widely established and proven, suggests Mr. O'Marah.

5. Operational technology. Mr. O'Marah noted a 38 percent annual growth rate in the amount of survey responses marking operational technology as important from 2014 to 2016. Operational technology, such as robotics or drones, is disruptive to supply chains as it changes the way material and equipment behave, according to the report.

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