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4 Supply Chain Technology Trends to Watch for 2021

Analysts are encouraging manufacturers to prepare for the economy to rebound as we head into the new year. Deutsche Bank analyst, Amit Mehrotra shared his “long-held bullish stance on transportation equities” and identifies the “lift in the industrial economy, strong housing demand, continued inventory restocking and a release of pent-up consumer demand.” While protecting operations from disruptions will continue to be a primary concern in 2021, companies will explore new ways to optimize their supply chains to meet modern demand. We rounded up 4 supply chain technology trends to watch for 2021.

Predictive Analytics

Enterprise manufacturers will continue to look for solutions that provide greater visibility well into 2021. The visibility technology available allows managers to access updates on their shipments and identify any issues that may arise in real time, but “what good is seeing a problem if you can’t resolve it.” With the help of artificial intelligence, predictive analytics is  primarily used to guide decisions regarding “intelligent transportation and route planning, demand planning and others.” This past year, supply chain leaders needed to adapt their process quickly due to drastic peaks in demand and uncertain supplies. To minimize the negative impact of unanticipated circumstances,“organizations must enable better access to information, augment that information with better insight and have the ability to respond quickly to the implications of that insight.”


Manual processes for paperwork, communication, and reporting have remained a widespread problem for the logistics industry. A study by  the Tungsten Network reported that U.S. businesses lost an average of $171,340 per year “chasing purchase order numbers, processing paper invoices and responding to supplier inquiries.'' By automating these processes, companies become “more efficient, reliable, and profitable” by minimizing the time spent on essential tasks, reducing errors, lowering costs, and promoting information sharing across the organization. Gartner’s Research Vice President, Brian Burke provides keen insight and predicts that “hyperautomation is irreversible and inevitable. Everything that can and should be automated will be automated.”

Integrated Systems & Layered Technologies

Legacy software have been central to enterprise supply chain operations. However, evolving buying patterns and business practices bring a new set of challenges that these systems may not be able to keep up with. While  replacing legacy software with emerging technology may sound like a simple solution, the undertaking will turn out to be quite costly. Newcomers in the logistics technology space recognize this barrier, understand many shippers use a combination of tools and therefore have the capability to “integrate multiple management systems via API and the cloud.” It is important to note that increasing the number of technologies will not not necessarily lead to an increase in efficiency and optimization. Each piece of technology must work together and streamline your workflow, rather than creating additional steps. If implemented properly, manufacturers, or shippers, can overcome the limitations of their existing systems. 

Omnichannel Operations

Many companies that provide consumer products and commodities were one of the first to feel the pressures of rising demand and tight supplies during the early days of lockdown. When companies choose to diversify their resources and sales channels, they are better equipped to maintain business continuity and position themselves for resilience. A UPS driver recently interviewed by NPR described the record number home deliveries when the U.S. economy first came to halt as “Christmas time in March.” Meeting customer expectations regardless of circumstances became a top priority for shippers that will likely persist throughout 2021.