MHI Solutions

Global Trends

Plan to Be Disrupted

2018 MHI Annual Industry Report Highlights NextGen Innovations and How to Overcome Top Barriers to Their Adoption

* By Carol Miller, MHI Vice President of Marketing and Communications *

For the fifth consecutive year, MHI and the Deloitte Consulting LLP research team—led by Scott Sopher, principal and leader of the Global Supply Chain Practice—queried more than 1,100 manufacturing and supply chain leaders to evaluate the influence a range of trends and next generation (NextGen) technologies have had. Executives from a variety of industries weighed in on their supply chain business impact, as well as cybersecurity concerns and workforce challenges.

The resulting 2018 MHI Annual Industry Report, “Overcoming Barriers to NextGen Supply Chain Adoption,” confirmed the trends identified in the previous reports, says Sopher: “The next generation, digital, on-demand and always-on supply network is here. It’s real. It’s happening. And lots of companies have embraced it.”

The report was released in a keynote panel discussion at MODEX 2018. In it, respondents acknowledged that today’s supply chains do much more than just physically move products and materials from one location to another. Today’s digital, interconnected world demands that supply chains also serve as a connected, coordinated information ecosystem that delivers maximum flexibility, visibility and transparency—regardless of the manpower available.

Reflecting this, survey respondents identified their top two operational challenges as: increasing customer demands on supply chains (73%) and hiring qualified workers (64%).

Identifying how companies are using NextGen technologies to transform supply chains into digital operations continues to be a key component of the survey. Nine technologies studied in previous reports are revisited:

  • Robotics and Automation
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Driverless Vehicles and Drones
  • Wearable and Mobile Technology
  • Inventory and Network Optimization
  • Sensors and Automatic Identification
  • Cloud Computing and Storage
  • 3D Printing

Conducted at the end of 2017, this year’s survey included two rapidly emerging NextGen technologies for the first time: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain.

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Emerging technologies such as IIoT, robotics and artificial intelligence provide exciting opportunities for supply chains. They also mean an exponential growth in the amount of data these supply chains generate. When properly utilized, this data can provide crucial information to improve efficiency, reduce costs, enhance transparency and customer service. But it comes with risk. The more digitized a supply chain becomes, the more it is at risk of cyberattack. Hackers are constantly finding new ways create data breaches they can exploit. The reality that most supply chains require third-party suppliers down the chain only heightens this threat. No matter the scale of your supply chain, it is essential to have solid cybersecurity processes in place to manage and mitigate the growing risk of cyberattack. That’s what this issue of MHI Solutions is all about, from cybersecurity threats in an IIoT world to dark data to the human factor in cybersecurity to blockchain as a potential solution.

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