Staying on Top: How to Keep Up with Technology (and the Competition) to Improve Supply Chain Efficiency

With technology moving so fast, best-in-class companies know that keeping pace is an essential strategy for staying ahead of the competition. It’s easy to become comfortable with legacy systems and fall behind the curve when no one’s paying attention. But knowing what technology to invest in and when can be a struggle.

Forbes Insights research found that in 2018, 64% of executives said it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with changes in technology, demographics, and the competitive environment. And 53% said they are concerned their competitors may be moving significantly faster—contributing to disruption in terms of capabilities, costs/margins, service provision, and similar attributes.

Supply chain technology should make life easier, not harder. As part of our ongoing series into how companies can gain a leg up on their competition by boosting supply chain efficiency, let’s take a closer look at how they can stay on top by using technology effectively.

Partner with the right provider

When it comes to pursuing new technology, Forbes found that 58% of execs plan to rely on (or at least heavily lean on) external partners.

This makes sense. Partnering with a provider ensures companies can hit the ground running without needing to sink extra time and money into building their own proprietary systems. All the necessary infrastructure and software is provided, and the best providers will ensure the installation and onboarding process goes without a hitch, smoothing out the wrinkles commonly associated with change management. And if anything does go wrong, the company always knows where to turn to find support.

But just as logistics and supply chain technology is evolving fast, so is the market of providers. New companies are springing up all the time—but they won’t necessarily be here a year from now. If a provider goes under, their systems can become obsolete overnight, so it’s important to partner with a company that’s going to be in it for the long haul. Look for companies with a proven track record of both financial stability and constant innovation before putting too many eggs in their basket.

Don’t jump the gun on emerging technology

Blockchain, augmented reality, artificial intelligence—technologies like these are already transforming the supply chain in a myriad of ways. But with so much hype around emerging tech, companies can sometimes feel pressured to jump on the bandwagon or else risk being left behind.

While it’s certainly essential to keep tabs on technological trends, rashly adopting a new technology or tool will not lead to long-term success. This is especially true when sinking money into emerging technology that still has plenty of kinks to work out.

Instead, companies should think carefully about how any new technology will impact specific processes in their supply chain. Every company has different needs, and some tools will have a bigger impact in creating efficiencies than others.

Where there is a clear business case for adoption, then companies can begin exploring their options. If inventory management is a particularly large burden, for example, then the supply chain manager may recommend implementing robotic process automation. This would eliminate the need for humans to handle repetitive manual tasks, freeing up staff to focus on other areas of the business.

Audit and analyze frequently

When it comes to implementing any new technology, companies cannot simply set and forget. Regular auditing is essential to ensure objectives are being met and that the tool is still leading edge.

Ongoing analysis of all aspects of the supply chain takes the guesswork out of remaining competitive. Benchmarking rates and key performance indicators (KPIs) and comparing them to industry averages can help companies to confirm or deny their suspicions that they’re not keeping up with the competition.

Business intelligence tools make this easier, allowing supply chain managers to quickly drill down into their data to spot areas of inefficiency. Of course, that’s only possible if the company is collecting and synthesizing its data effectively. A robust transportation management system is one of the most valuable pieces of technology a company can invest in for this reason, creating greater efficiencies while simultaneously streamlining data collection across many disparate systems.

Stay ahead of the pack

In today’s technology-saturated market, companies can feel overwhelmed by the options available to them. Finding a strategic partner can take the pressure off, ensuring a company reaps all the benefits that new technology can bring without any of the downsides.

CTSI-Global has been a key player in the logistics and supply chain technology space for over 60 years—and we’ve never lost our keen instinct for innovation. Our suite of industry-leading tools helps companies gain a major competitive advantage by improving efficiency across the supply chain.

Stay ahead of the curve. Partner with CTSI-Global today.

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