The trend of supply chains having to bring in automation and digital technologies to address market demands of efficiency, agility and flexibility continues. In fact in the new 2017 MHI Annual Industry Report, 80% of survey respondents believe digital supply chains will be the predominant model within five years. Sixteen percent say they already are.

“While this digital ecosystem is creating cost savings, innovation and win-win opportunities along supply chains, it is also accelerating the pace of change, creating disruption and raising competitive pressures,” the report concluded.

The 2017 MHI Annual Industry Report, developed for the fourth year in collaboration with Deloitte Consulting surveyed 1,200 participants represented a wide range of industries, that range in in size from small to large, with 47% reporting annual sales in excess of $100 million, and 10% reporting $10 billion or more.

Key findings of the report include:

Workforce Trends:

Hiring and retaining a skilled workforce continues to be the biggest obstacle facing supply chain professionals with 63% of respondents reporting the issue (up from 58% in 2016). Additionally, 50% say training their workforce to use new technologies is a top priority. Other significant challenges include customer demand for faster response times (55%) and customer demand for lower delivery cost (53%).

Disruptive Technologies:

The top technologies respondents say can be a source of either disruption or competitive advantage are:
--Robotics and automation (61%)
--Predictive analytics (57%)
--The Internet-of-Things (IoT) (55%)
--Driverless vehicles & drones (54%)
--Sensors and automatic identification (53%)
--Inventory & Network Optimization Tools—50%

Top Challenges:

--Hiring and retaining a skilled workforce (63%)
--Customer Demand for Faster Response Time (55%)
--Customer Demand for Lower Delivered Costs (53%)

Barrier to IoT Adoption

--Cyber Security  (56%)
--Lack of talent to utilize technology effectively (45%)
--Lack of a clear business case to justify investment( 44%)

Smart City Logistics

While 50% of survey respondents are aware of Smart City Logistics, only 6% say they have begun to collaborate with other companies and cities to utilize and develop supply chain innovations to create new opportunities for last mile delivery, urban distribution centers and logistics hubs.