Changing Today to Thrive Tomorrow

Article by Tom Serres

Companies and industries are at an evolutionary crossroads right now. They can choose to maintain  stasis in hopes that imbalanced information will continue to provide competitive advantage. Alternatively, they can embrace a more productive and efficient vision of tomorrow. This begins with preparing for cognitive supply chains that are inherently sentient and streamlined, capable of learning and adapting to a dynamic consumer base.

In this post, I wish to offer some straightforward, actionable insight for the organizational leadership of today. Below I distill some of the most important insights Animal Ventures has developed about the future of logistics.

Think Bigger While Starting Small

Single source supply chains offer a natural point of evolution in commerce and will become the norm once market participants recognize their structural advantages. Firms that begin taking action now through smaller but consistent improvements – all while maintaining focus on a bigger cognitive end game – realize significant enterprise benefits for current needs while setting themselves up well for a single source future. A set of specific technologies will collectively establish the cognitive foundation for logistics networks of tomorrow.

  • Blockchain: Advancements in blockchain serve as the core of future asset chains and play an instrumental role in developing private networks that lend substantial new efficiencies to in-house functions.
  • Artificial intelligence: AI-based systems use algorithms to create models that provide foresight into distribution networks and variables, demand-side trends and shifting preferences, and inventory requirements that prevent significant amounts of idle stock from needlessly absorbing cash flow.
  • Internet-of-Things: IoT-enabled equipment throughout all points of supply chains will continually monitor for machine wear, eliminating unforeseen and disruptive sources of downtime.
  • Additive manufacturing: As supply chains become more nimble, on-demand production and distribution remove the necessity for intermediaries in supply chains, saving cost for companies and consumers alike.

Building Blocks of Industry 4.0

Although initially isolated to individual companies, groups, or industries, private networks featuring any of these separate technologies can be leveraged in the near future to build asset chains that enable cognitive supply chains and shared network states. And since trustlessness is an essential component of a decentralized economy – a quality currently lacking in much of today’s industrial landscape – companies can also publish certain data feeds to public networks as a stepping stone to a more pervasive and universally adopted public network once technology advances to the point where confidentiality concerns and data privacy issues disappear. These are steps smart firms should be taking to prepare for the entirely reinvented supply chain of tomorrow. To learn more about firms currently seizing this opportunity, take a look at our Emerging Ideas blog and White Paper.