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The Future of Collaborative Supply Chains and
Global Business 2005-2010

by Dr. James Canton

Overview This summary is from an ongoing research report and advisory service provided by the Institute for Global Futures on the future of supply chains and global business. For over twenty-five years the Institute for Global Futures has been conducting an analysis of key trends that will shape the future of business, the economy and society.

Overall we are headed toward an era of greater complexity, more competition, and faster change. Innovations will come sooner and cut deeper. Technology will continue to be a prime enabler of market share growth, profitability and competitive advantage. Information technology (IT), in this new era will become even more mission-critical to the survival of the enterprise. A new generation of power tools led by the Internet is just now emerging. The exponential growth of technology-from super smart computers to super fast networks will demand an enterprise and supply chain transformation. We are at the beginning of this era.

Supply chains are being reshaped by the Internet and the new efficiencies of e-business but there maybe something larger that is emerging. Do supply chains point to the evolution of a future economy? We think so. The movement of goods and services from manufacturer to supplier through distribution channels into the marketplace and eventually delivered to the customer is being transformed by information technology at a rapid pace. This is as true for knowledge-based products financial services) as well as manufactured goods. But this is just the beginning. Supply chains as a fundamental component of an economy, may give us insight into the larger economic shifts yet to come in the future. As next generation of supply chains are deployed---no longer reactive to commerce but being proactive, predictive and anticipatory emerge, so shall the next global economy.

The key trend that will enable the future of supply chains is electronic collaboration. Electronic collaboration between all the players of the supply chain, once collaboratively enabled, from the DNA of the products' inception to the customers' digestion-will be the sea change. This cannot occur without the embrace of new business models (e.g. JIT production) and shifts essential especially to the enterprise, (e.g. workflow engineering, eProcurement, eLogistics). These forces and the associated shifts described here will provide the transformation of the next global economy.

Collaborative supply chains will become prevalent in the future as fierce competitive forces use information technology as a weapon to differentiate their value. We are just at the beginning of this shift. Web-centric end to end solutions, today seemingly innovative will become tomorrows' EDI. As a new generation of tools and applications and networks emerge, smarter and faster solutions will prevail. Radical innovation is the only competitive advantage. Customers and their logistics partners who invest in flexible organic and scalable innovations that can fast adapt with the markets needs will be the winners. Real-time will be a key differentiator until it becomes the standard for all supply chain optimization. The capacity of the 21st century organization will continually be updating it's IT, this will be the norm. They must learn to be able to move faster and provide a smarter solution set so their customers can thrive in the extreme future.

As corporations become increasingly dependent on global trade to offset local maturing markets, the borderless transnational enterprise will require a streamlined new generation of supply chains. Innovations today will seem less so in the future. This report considers the leading trends that may indicate what's next for supply and chains and how these changes will both drive industry, economics and global markets in the near future.

Future Collaborative Supply Chain Paradigm Shifts

Seven paradigm shifts will define the next generation supply chains. Some of these shifts are emerging now; others are yet to reveal their role. Some can be seen in parallel economic and business environment, not associated with supply chains as yet-but together will become a change driver. What is interesting is that the traditional supply chain thinkers are holding hard to the infrastructure of the past even as the new infrastructure is growing up around them. Those leaders that have discovered the Web think that it is the end game. It is not. This is just the beginning where the new channel, the Web is an accelerator of dramatic changes to come. Everyone will be using end to end, Web-centric technology to accelerate their supply chains. This is not the innovative breakthrough. This is the new commodity. By cultivating a capacity for continual radical innovation, anticipating future opportunity and customer demand, leaders will be able to better navigate the challenges of the near future.

As we move beyond, into 2005 and further On-Demand Supply Chains will provide more speed, business intelligence and transparency for growing business opportunities. Seven key paradigm shifts point the way to the future of supply chains:
  1. Real-time Predictive Forecasting
    The ability of an enterprise to be able to anticipate and forecast future customer demand, identify profitable niche markets, turn that into products and services and then turn that information into a business asset will be essential to the competitive advantage of the enterprise.
  2. Business Intelligence
    Critical information about competitors, customers, and the industry that can be used to accelerate the development of profitable opportunities will be the key driver of the 21st century enterprise. Customer and supplier data will become a weapon for competitive advantage if tied to the IT infrastructure.
  3. On-Demand Service
    This is a shift in thinking, designing and implementing supply chain resources not shaped just by cost or efficiency but by speed smart software, and system optimization. The ability of a company to have access to a flexible, transparent and interoperable Knowledge Network that can accelerate business opportunity, is the central paradigm forecasted here.
  4. Pervasive Networking
    The use of the next generation of intelligent devices-from chips in packaging, to network sniffers that monitor to mobile devices that are pervasive, intelligent, fully integrated into the products being moved in the supply chain, will provide efficiency, speed and knowledge that can be monitized...
  5. Electronic Markets
    Electronic markets will emerge providing AI optimized trade, where price, speed and feature transparency will dominate those players that can function in the new environment. These markets, tied to banks and manufacturing and logistics will present vast new opportunities as new technologies tied to the Web such as interactive TV and wireless commerce become widespread in use throughout the world.
  6. Smarter Software
    Software that can automate human functions with less error and chance will enable more efficient and more cost-effective supply chains. Many functions today could be automated around rule-based AI systems providing faster efficiencies.
  7. Next Generation Collaborative IT Infrastructure
    Not much can or will be done if companies don't spend the resources to design the nextgen IT infrastructures. Deep collaboration offering transaction, communications, clearing, confirmation, validation, and decision-support with customers, suppliers, partner's even competitors is what the future holds. It is the agility and intelligence of the collaboration that will determine success. Delivery channel architectures tied to customers, data warehouses linked to the desktop or wireless web, offering real-time, on-demand streaming data-this is what's next.
© Copyright 2004 Dr James Canton. All Rights Reserved.

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