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At a time when supply chain issues have been plaguing the IT industry, Gartner has outlined eight technology ‘themes’ for 2021 that could provide better resiliency for supply chains, and potential opportunities for partners who sell to orgs looking for solutions. “This year, we’ve decided to focus on broader, overarching technology themes rather than individual technologies,” said Gartner supply chain vice president analyst Christian Titze. “This is because innovative technologies are often combined together in order to solve specific supply chain business problems.” Click through the arrows or use your arrow keys to see the eight supply chain technology themes.

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1. Hyperautomation A combination of machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) to automate decision making to help automate transactional processes, such as order to cash and complex decision making. Gartner said that this will eventually augment human capabilities and support the creation of an autonomous supply chain as people and businesses need to delegate more and more authority of decision making to intelligent applications, physical robots and software service assistants.

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2. Digital supply chain twin (DSCT) The DSCT is a digital representation of the physical supply chain that is developed from data gathered from the supply chain and its operating environment. Gartner said it provides a basis for supply chain decision making, and ensures it is “aligned horizontally and vertically throughout the network.”

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3. Immersive experience and applications Achieved by combining specialist devices, like head-mounted displays, or generalist devices, like smartphones or tablet, with AI and other business applications. “Immersive experience technologies have the potential to radically influence the trajectory of supply chain management. It presents new interaction models through the product life cycle, not only with humans, but with other processes, machines and applications,” Titze said. “Pioneer companies already benefit from outcomes, such as safer working environments, faster repair times, improved work error rate, better collaboration and retention of skills and knowledge.”

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4. Edge ecosystems Consisting of edge computing and edge data processing applications, these ecosystems allow for the management of data processing capabilities to where products are produced and decisions are made. Gartner offers the example of tracking and monitoring condition or temperature requirements across a product’s life cycle.

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5. Supply chain security With a growing reliance on edge-to-edge computing, cybersecurity that can meet the needs of a supply chain, such as identifying counterfeits and preventing disruption from cybercrime, will develop and evolve.

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6. Environmental social governance (ESG) From meeting emissions goals to tracking the origin of ingredients to combat modern slavery, technology is expected to play a major role in helping organisations meet their social responsibilities and stay compliant. “Modern supply chains are highly connected and interdependent. Organisations need technologies to map and prepare for ESG opportunities, risks and impacts. Failure to invest in tools and solutions that govern, predict and adapt to new ESG impacts could have a significant influence on brand or company image, customer value perception, and the cost and availability of goods,” Titze said.

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7. Embedded AI and analytics Making use of gathered data is always a major driver of enterprise-grade technologies. For the supply chain, this will include software capabilities that deliver real-time reporting, interactive data visualisation and advanced analytics and intelligence directly into an enterprise business application. Garnter noted that this can also be combined with industrial IoT to further optimise operations.

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8. Augmented data intelligence Going one step further to extract the value of data, augmented data intelligence combines technologies with data lakes/platforms to make suggestions and predictions to inform decision making. “Supply chain organisations often don’t have all the information they need for good decision-making. Technology leaders look for a solution that helps them increase visibility and that generates insights from data. This is where augmented data intelligence comes in next to core business applications. These solutions have the capability to collect, correlate and analyse several data pipelines and provide leaders with the information they need,” Titze said.

At a time when supply chain issues have been plaguing the IT industry, Gartner has outlined eight technology ‘themes’ for 2021 that could provide better resiliency for supply chains, and potential opportunities for partners who sell to orgs looking for solutions.

“This year, we’ve decided to focus on broader, overarching technology themes rather than individual technologies,” said Gartner supply chain vice president analyst Christian Titze.

“This is because innovative technologies are often combined together in order to solve specific supply chain business problems.”

Click through the arrows or use your arrow keys to see the eight supply chain technology themes.


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