6 Ways the Supply Chain has Transformed in the Last 20 Years (part 1)

Sarah Aswell


by Sarah Aswell

transportation-and-delivery-icons_23-2147509278.jpgThe basic tenants of supply chain management have remained static throughout time and will not change in the foreseeable future: it will always involve the flow of goods, services, and information from the supplier all the way to the consumer. It will always rely on analysis to increase efficiency and quality. It will always thrive on innovation, logic, and logistics.

However, the last two decades of supply chain history have been colored by unprecedented change, from the technologies supply chain workers utilize, to the strategies managers use to analyze data, to the conditions of very world in which we live.

In this article series, we will take a closer look at six trends, evolutions, and events that have affected the supply chain as well as what the future may hold for supply chain management.

1. The creation of supply chain frameworks.

Arguably one of the most important publications regarding supply chain management was written 19 years ago by Marshall L. Fisher, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Published in the in the Harvard Business Review and titled “What is the right supply chain for your product?” this seminal article pointed out glaring deficiencies in the supply chain and offered a simple solution: creating a framework that analyzed each product and identified the most efficient supply chain for the each situation. This new look at SCM not only harnessed the emerging technologies of the time (including point-of-sale scanners, flexible manufacturing, and automated warehousing), it also introduced a new level of functionality that would influence SCM far into the future.

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2. Never-before-seen technological advancements.

The size and scope of the technological advancements of the last two decades is simply unparalleled throughout recent history. It is no surprise that these advancements – including the internet, mobile technology, and new software/application development – have affected nearly every facet of the supply chain and supply chain management. These technologies allow for increased transparency, increased speed, increased accuracy, and increased knowledge, all while streamlining processes and allowing for deeper and more complicated insights into the overarching ideals, theories and strategies that power SCM.

3. The entrance of big data analysis

Perhaps the most powerful and important result of recent technological advancement in SCM has been the industry’s new ability to acquire and analyze huge amounts of data almost instantaneously. While using statistical analysis and quantifiable performance information to improve the supply chain is nothing new, the ability to capture, organize, and understand extremely large and messy volumes of data is a very novel tool. Big data analysis has been positively impacted a number of other areas of operation, but is especially imperative to grasping a better understanding of the overall supply chain, which is impacted by dozens if not hundreds of different factors, from weather to warehouses. Specifically, data-driven analytics can help with everything from understanding transportation logistics to predicting resupplies.

So there you have 3 ways the supply chain has been transformed in the last 20 years. Our next post will explore a further 3 ways. Do you agree that supply chain frameworks, technological advancements and big data analysis have all transformed the supply chain?

ContractRoom is a great example of how technology has changed the face of supply chain management in recent years. To learn how our contract management system can help you discover the power of organized, data-driven negotiation, we invite you to schedule a demo today. To learn more about all of these topics, visit www.contractroom.com .

About the author

Sarah Aswell

Sarah Aswell

Sarah Aswell is a freelance writer and content strategist who writes about small business, content marketing, and legal issues, among many other topics. She earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Montana and has a background in journalism and publishing. She lives in Missoula, Montana with her husband and two daughters.

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