A New Age of Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management (SCM) is a constantly evolving landscape. New/shifting influences, technologies, and priorities continuously push those involved in supply chain logistics to reshape and adapt. What are some of the forces shaping the new age of supply chain management?


Sustainable logistics within supply chains are poised to go from “nice to have” to “required to have,” as the world’s population continues to expand rapidly, intensifying the burden on resources. As the social and political focus on corporate environmental responsibility continues to grow, so does the overall understanding of a product’s total environmental impact. Previous focus “has been on the sustainable profile of a product, (i.e. its source and whether it is recyclable), there is a need to spotlight and to understand the sustainability issues related to the transportation and distribution of those products,” according to the Sustainable Supply Chain Foundation. Issues like water consumption throughout the supply chain of a product, traffic patterns affecting truck fleets, and use of renewable materials will be key components in the creation and management of supply chains.

Data Security

There have been a number of high-profile security breaches involving large corporations in recent years. Compromised personal information of customers resulting from the need to exchange information with vendors represents a substantial area of potential weakness within the systems used to collect and store the information. Companies are not always aware of every supplier within a chain, and suppliers can be deliberately misleading about the number of additional vendors that may be included within a chain. Increasingly, companies are demanding more visibility within supply chains to allow for a comprehensive understanding of all suppliers in the chain. As E-commerce becomes the rule rather than the exception for companies as well as individual consumers, businesses are focusing large amounts of resources on data security both internally and throughout their chain of suppliers.

Augmented Reality

Providing a real-time view of the space being considered along with enhancements and information to assist the user in performing tasks, augmented reality is making its way into SCM, and DHL, along with others, think the impact will be huge. Google Glass type devices can optimize picking in warehouse settings, providing directions to the desired product and automatically scanning the product when it is reached. 3-D layouts of facilities and freight trailers will allow technology to assist users in virtually planning the optimal layout for new warehousing as well as supply transportation. A package delivery truck could be easily loaded in the order by which deliveries would be made, minimizing the driver’s time spent searching for the next delivery. Transportation operators with head’s up displays could be provided with information regarding the climate and stability of the supplies they are transporting, as well as information about the vehicle. Traffic and weather information could be used to assist systems in routing the transportation, constantly updating to utilize the most cost efficient route. Additionally, consumers using AR technology could shop anywhere by navigating through a virtual store, selecting items from shelves seen using a glass type device, and have the products delivered to a desired location a short time later. This experience offers all of the ease of shopping in a store, while eliminating the need for travel to a specific location.

As SCM practices continue to evolve in 2016 and beyond, managers will consider these and other influences in planning to strengthen and adapt the supply chain logistics of businesses. Check out Maryville’s Online MBA program to learn more about supply chain logistics and how they can increase revenue in businesses.

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