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Ten Key Drivers of Future Collaborative Supply
Chain Scenarios

by Dr. James Canton

The following are the prime enablers that will shape the future of supply chains based on research conducted by the Institute for Global Futures. Much of this is an evolutionary shift, inevitable yet hard to definitively predict a timeline. With so many companies offering third party web-centric end to end solutions, it is probable that one standard electronic infrastructure will emerge. In addition, the enablers, and the systems will eventually become commodities, like many of the products they will move via their logistical systems. No supply chains will exist by 2010 that are not electronically enabled, collaborative or are on-demand. The following are the key drivers of this emerging Collaborative Supply Chain future:

Artificial Intelligence, AI-embedded decision-support for predicative modeling and automatic logistics management Innovations such the next generation Internet 2, 3, 4; broadband; peer-to-peer; nanotechnology; Grid computing; the Semantic Web and VoIP will provide voice and data integration with wireless, satellite, interactive TV for max logistics coordination.

On-Demand supply chain components that get created and then become invisible until when needed, Lego Supply Chains

Banking and telecom infrastructure Web unification tied invisibly to the enterprise and to logistics systems

Just in Time Production, tied to predicative analysis of customer demands and logistical systems availability

Real-time data mining to drive the best logistical utilization of supply chain resources, systems and costs

Customer supply chain hosting, to re-purpose underutilized infrastructure within and outside the customer's systems

Supply chain optimization objects built into the system with DEPS, digitally engineered personalities that automatically monitor and configure customer, logistic and supplier needs

"What if "scenarios with forward placed digital cash commitments to determine buyers interest before manufacturing starts.

Customer Relationship Forecasting, to determine buying interests and business to business competitive-advantages that the "aware supply chain" can use to improve "itself"; to become real-time self-aware of the need to enhance the functionality of 'its' network architecture.

Preparing Business for the 21st Century
The challenge before business leaders today is how to prepare to meet the challenges of this emerging future. Collaborative Supply Chains will shape the future success, even the future survival of the enterprise. Investing in infrastructure, technology, or human resources alone is not the answer. More radical technologies are coming that will change the supply chains; even quite fantastic. Wireless packages will communicate their location and arrivals to a global customers waiting for them. Nanotechnology, using enhanced self-organizing materials that reassemble themselves from components into finished products are coming. Molecular models for network chips that mimic natural processes like DNA to hydrogen fuel cells for trucks and planes are coming.

A forward looking strategic plan that incorporates a cohesive strategy designed to take into consideration, both core competencies and future business objectives, that is in step with the customer and the changing marketspace is the right direction. This is a learning process that is a formula for long term profitability and success.

We must also remember as we look forward to look back. Even though billions have been spent on the intermodal system today, the raising of the tunnel clearances alone was quite expensive to accommodate double-stacked trains in the US; this system is still not used as efficiently today as it could be. Newer technologies may breathe new life into older solutions.

The era of the supply chain that reacts to customer needs alone is over. Leaders both in the logistics industry and those customers who understand this vital paradigm shift will prosper given this new reality. Collaborative Supply Chains will both be shaped by the next economy and be shaped by the forces of change.

© Copyright 2004 Dr James Canton. All Rights Reserved.

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