The decisions you make about your supply chain operations in the new year should not be made in a vacuum. When you consider your company’s present circumstances alone, you have no baseline of comparison about what you should be working toward or prioritizing. After all, part of remaining competitive means staying on top of what your competitors are doing and what advantages the latest innovations have to offer your business’s daily operations. Luckily, plenty of experts are talking about their industry predictions in the new year, so you can easily find the information you need to help inform the changes you need to make in order to have a competitive advantage. We’ll break down some of the supply chain predictions for 2024 and how they can lead you toward supply chain success.


 

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Supply Chain Predictions for 2024

Understanding what your priorities are for supply chain management in 2024 requires knowledge of what’s supposed to be happening in the supply chain in the coming year. This means understanding pressing challenges that are set to persist or that the industry is looking to remedy, as well as taking into account any new regulations, standards, or legislation that impacts how the supply chain operates. While most logistics and supply chain operations will take this into consideration at every point of the year, it’s good to dedicate time to understanding what other people within your industry are talking about. Let’s review some of the most common supply chain predictions for 2024.

1. Customers and shareholders will expect greater transparency.

Part of staying afloat in an increasingly competitive marketplace means staying attuned to what your customers are demanding and making sure that you’re living up to their expectations for the industry as a whole. When a large company sets a precedent and customers grow accustomed to that precedent, others within the industry have to find a way to follow suit or risk not living up to customer expectations. Companies like Amazon have created the expectation that the delivery process is incredibly transparent for both individual customers and business professionals. Whether it’s a conscious decision or not, we expect to be given the knowledge of where our shipments are at any given time and receive notifications and explanations if they are delayed. This emphasis on transparency translates directly into expectations for the supply chain and what shareholders expect companies to begin providing and accounting for.

2. A company’s flexibility will determine its long-term success.

Due to the rapid-fire ways in which the supply chain and overall logistics process are changing, the companies that are able to be flexible are going to be the ones who can keep succeeding in the long-term. For this reason, it’s important for logistics operations to start looking for a way to improve and promote their flexibility now. This mostly means that companies should start figuring out how to provide experiences that are in line with the specific needs of each individual customer or company that they serve rather than adhering to a stricter one-size-fits-all approach. This also means that they have to be equipped to change strategies quickly when the worst happens. Having an emergency response plan in place for if something gets held up or delayed before that delay happens means that companies can respond more quickly and with more flexibility when it does happen.

3. The best business models will emphasize collaboration across the supply chain.

From beginning to end, the supply chain and logistics processes include a great many number of people and stakeholders. It involves the people who make the product, the people who store it, the people who load it, the people who maintain the trailers, the people who drive the trucks, the people who sell the product, and so much more. While one large company might choose to do all of this, it’s far more common for multiple companies to be involved with a product progressing from manufacturing to storage to transportation to distribution and beyond. While it’s easy to treat each of these companies as separate entities – because, in many cases, they are – more supply chains are encouraging greater communication and collaboration between every party involved in getting the product to the end user. This feeds back to the question of transparency, as improved transparency between these cooperating companies leads to improved transparency for the distributor or end user. This produces greater trust in the overall process and each company involved. On the other hand, if even one company is perceived to have messed something up, it can affect the reputation of all companies involved in the process. For this reason, businesses are starting to communicate more directly and more frequently with the companies they cooperate with, even coming together to create overall operational plans. This will continue to be seen throughout the new year.

4. Upholding sustainability and environmental standards will be a priority.

A company’s ability to be sustainable is increasingly impacting a company’s ability to succeed in modern business. A large part of this is due to the new and expanding environmental guidelines being upheld by both government organizations and industry regulators. If your logistics operations are not meeting the expected environmental standards, you run the risk of being fined, taken to court, or shut down on either a temporary or permanent basis. Even beyond official regulations, however, customers are becoming more mindful of the sustainability practices that the companies they utilize do and do not enact. This is true within both business-to-consumer and business-to-business environments. For this reason, supply chain and logistics companies will seek out new ways to uphold and prove their sustainability.

5. The supply chain will continue to be fraught with unexpected disruptions.

In recent years, unexpected disruptions have become the expected norm for supply chains. These disruptions vary in scope and cause, with a number of factors such as weather patterns, companies going out of business, government regulations, and global politics affecting what disruptions manifest. A major reason that these disruptions seem to be far more frequent now than before is that companies are shifting toward specialization. Whereas it used to be the norm for one or two companies to account for all aspects of running the supply chain between them, now there tends to be far more parties involved. This isn’t without good reason: companies that specialize heavily in one concentrated area are usually far better at what they do and have a better reputation than companies that try to do everything themselves. However, the consequences of this shift are that many companies still have to work toward how they handle disruptions and how they communicate when this occurs.

6. Cybersecurity will become an increasingly prevalent concern.

Technology helps companies change for the better. It gives them a chance to ease and improve their daily processes, making the same tasks far simpler than they once were. IoT in supply chains can help operators maintain visibility of all aspects of their logistics operations and predict and address challenges before they occur. However, with all the different technologies on the market, it’s no surprise that some available systems have notable security flaws, allowing the system – and in some cases, connected systems – to be breached by hackers. In 2024, logistics companies are expected to take steps to better secure their systems and the data they collect. This includes both IoT systems and more general technology such as WiFi. Decision makers are also expected to prioritize and screen more deliberately for secure systems when trying to find new solutions.

7. Supply chains will continue to digitize their operational data.

Even with concerns about cybersecurity present, supply chain and logistics companies are projected to continue to shift toward pursuing a digital version of their operational data. Part of the reason this is so important is because there are so many people now involved in the standard supply chain. It is easier to communicate information and ensure that information is correct if it is done digitally, with all stakeholders given appropriate access. Beyond that, it’s simply far more reliable to maintain automated digital records than it is to attempt to keep a manual record. In order to streamline processes and reduce human error, digitization will be embraced to greater and greater degrees over the course of 2024 and beyond, especially as new technologies with new capabilities are released.

How These Predictions Should Inform Use of IoT

Knowing what the supply chain predictions that experts are projecting for 2024 consist of is only half of the battle. The other half is knowing what your company should be doing in response to your knowledge of these trends. Many of this year’s supply chain management trends are directly associated with IoT solutions, and the ones that aren’t can be supported or achieved through the application of IoT technology. Taking it prediction by prediction, we’ll help you start thinking about how these predictions can inform your company’s use of IoT and asset tracking technologies.

1. Achieve Transparency with Real-time Visibility

To provide transparency to your customers and shareholders, you need to know where a delivery is at any given moment. If it doesn’t arrive at the correct destination, you’ll need to know where it ended up instead. By using an asset location visibility system that is tied to the specific product rather than the truck it’s on, you’ll be able to answer any questions your customers have and respond to unexpected circumstances.

2. Gain Knowledge to Stay Flexible

Your company cannot stay flexible and deal with emergency situations if they don’t know what’s going on at every part of the supply chain process. By employing automated record keeping and alerting through an asset tracking supply chain visibility system, operators can be assured that they will know when the unexpected occurs as soon as it occurs, or maybe even before. This allows them to respond quickly and improve process flexibility.

3. Embrace Tools that Enable Collaboration

Part of collaborating with other companies, stakeholders, and customers is making sure that everyone has access to all of the information they need to operate to their fullest potential. The best way to do this is to grant access to that information over a shared platform. You should select and implement an IoT platform that gathers all the relevant information that any of your collaborators could desire, then allow access to each in accordance with what they need to see.

4. Monitor Progress Toward Sustainability Goals

In order to build a reputation for sustainability and positive environmental impact, you have to be able to keep a finger on the pulse of your progress toward sustainability goals. By utilizing IoT, you have access to information concerning your waste, emissions, and more, letting you make informed decisions about lessening environmental impact. You can also automatically generate reports when necessary for proving compliance.

5. Respond to Disruptions Based on Historical Data

You have dealt with disruptions before; you will have to deal with them again. There’s no way to avoid it. However, when you use a supply chain management system to constantly collect and store operational data, that data can be used to inform your response to future disruptions or even predict when they are most likely to occur. This lessens the impact of disruptions significantly.

6. Utilize IoT Solutions with Proven Cybersecurity

Obviously, the caveat of using IoT technology is that you’ll need to be mindful of the security measures the system has in place. Luckily, most IoT systems have matured to a degree that they are designed to be secure, lessening overall incidents. Simply be sure to bring up any concerns with the solution provider either during the discovery phase or after implementation.

7. Digitize Your Operational Data

It goes without saying that IoT solutions are required for effective digitalization of your critical operational data. Locate systems that automatically keep track of the data that’s most important to you, whether that’s real-time location, dwell time, conditions, or something else entirely. Asset tracking solutions are particularly versatile in the types of data they can provide in a centralized location.

Manage Your Supply Chain with AirFinder

Our AirFinder Everywhere solution is an asset tracking system that can provide complete visibility across all phases of your supply chain. Whether you’re looking to track trailers, cargo, equipment, a combination, or more, our innovative solution has the capability to provide accurate, real-time location information at an affordable cost, all while integrating with your telematics system. If you want to learn more about what our system has to offer your logistics company, book a demo with our experts today.

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Written by Makenna Dudley

Makenna Dudley is a Marketing Associate for Link Labs, with practical experience in written communications, media writing, and additional forms of content creation. She has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication.

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