Top 10: Disruptive Technologies (2024)

10. Cybersecurity technologies

Top companies: Zscaler, VMware, Fortinet, Cisco, McAfee

Hailed as a top digital technology thanks to supply chains’ transition to a more digital-centric way of working, cybersecurity technologies help mitigate the rising risk of cyber attacks.

Advanced cybersecurity measures are crucial to protecting sensitive data and ensuring the continuity of operations. Improved data security across a supply chain helps lower risks of cyber attacks.A secondary benefit can also include a reduction in control costs.

By reducing exposure to threats and attacks, firms can avoid lost products, downtime, compromised data, lost proprietary information and loss of customer trust.

9.Cloud computing

Top companies: Schneider Electric, Cisco, Colgate-Palmolive, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson

IT-based service provider Veritis advocates that cloud can transform supply chain management by innovating processes at every level.

This spans planning and sourcing, as well as manufacturing, logistics and distribution as cloud technologies glean new insights for decision-making and automate activities, making supply chains stronger and smarter.

For example, IBM Sterling B2B Integration SaaS – a cloud-based platform – enables businesses to efficiently connect and exchange data with the likes of customers, suppliers, distributors and other trading partners, providing real-time visibility and materials to help businesses make data-driven decisions.

8. 3D printing

Top companies: GE, Renishaw, Xerox, Stratasys, 3D Systems

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing has revolutionised supply chain processes thanks to its ability to enable on-demand production, reducing the need for large inventories and allowing for rapid prototyping and customisation.

The implementation of 3D printing means supply chains can be shortened, transportation costs lowered and time-to-market accelerated to timeframes impossible without it, meaning it can cater to market demands at the drop of a hat.

The Supply Chain Consulting Group says that strides made in 3D printing across the last three decades have made the technology more commonplace, disrupting traditional business.

7. AR and VR

Top companies: ScienceSoft, ScaleXM, PTC, Lucid Reality Labs, Groove Jones, Spatial

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) has changed the way training and development is executed in the supply chain industry, as well as maintenance and warehouse operations.

By combining digital and physical worlds in real time, AR improves picking accuracy and guides workers through complex tasks.

VR offers similar benefits, as simulated 3D environments that users explore and interact with allow for immersive training environments, reducing errors and increasing efficiency.

Supply chain expert Steve Salindeho says AR and VR provide a more intuitive understanding of demand patterns and supply chain dynamics.

6. Big data and advanced analytics

Top companies: IBM, Accenture, Oracle, SAP, Teradata

As big data analytics helps to analyse vast amounts of data to uncover patterns, trends and insights, its use in supply chain operations can lead to more informed decision-making and strategic planning.

In turn, it has a high impact on data-driven decision-making, is increasingly used in predictive and prescriptive analytics and can be extensively applied.

As one of the industry’s hottest topics of the last five years, a significant increase in the uptake of big data has transpired, allowing businesses to generate competitive advantages such as decreased costs, enhanced efficiency and smarter decisions.

5. Drones and autonomous vehicles

Top companies: Amazon, Walmart, DHL, Bosch, Uber Freight

In addition to revolutionising last-mile delivery by reducing delivery times and costs, drones and autonomous vehicles (AVs) serve various purposes in warehouse management and inventory counting.

These technologies have a high impact on logistics and delivery as a result of their unprecedented efficiency, speed and flexibility in the movement of goods.

The Institute for Supply Management highlights how AVs – including self-driving cars and delivery robots – can navigate roads autonomously, reducing the need for human drivers and achieving cost savings as a result.

The institute adds that, as these technologies continue to evolve, organisations can expect a transformative impact on the speed, efficiency and convenience of last-mile logistics.

4. RPA

Top companies: Walmart, UPS, McDonalds, Olive, IBM

Although by no stretch of the imagination a new or emerging technology, robotic process automation (RPA) is revolutionising end-to-end supply chain management operations from sale to creation and delivery.

It proves valuable through its ability to automate data-driven processes, while simultaneously decreasing costs, reducing error rates and optimising operations.

Infosys BPM says that RPA, when twinned with other exciting technologies like AI and ML (read on for more), can streamline logic-based processes by automating them, eliminating errors and enhancing speed. It also allows for hyper automation, making automation intelligent – in other words, capable of making decisions in addition to automating routine processes.

3. Blockchain

Top companies: Ethereum, IBM Blockchain, Cardano, Ripple, Avalanche

A distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of ordered records, also known as blocks, blockchain ensures secure, transparent and tamper-proof transactions and records. As a result, this enhances trust among stakeholders and streamlines processes like procurement, contract management and payments.

Further benefits brought to the table by this technology include transparency and security, the significant potential for industry transformation and increasing adoption in supply chain applications.

Harvard Business Review says blockchain can greatly improve supply chains by enabling faster and more cost-efficient delivery of products, enhancing products’ traceability, improving coordination between partners and aiding access to financing.

2. IoT

Top companies: Siemens, IBM, Cisco, iTechArt, Vates

The benefits of Internet of Things (IoT) devices are widespread thanks to its ability to provide real-time data on the location and condition of goods.

In turn, this enhances visibility and traceability throughout the entire supply chain, bringing advantages from start to end. This leads to better inventory management and reduces losses.

Forward-looking organisations are leveraging IoT devices to transform complex supply chains into fully-connected networks. Benefits include – but are not limited to – increased visibility, better collaboration, maximising assets, better customer service, real-time tracking of goods, forecasting accuracy, ESG compliance, inventory control, warehouse automation and paperwork management.

Rafael A. Vela, a Senior Supply Chain Specialist, says IoT has emerged as a game-changer in supply chain visibility in line with the rapid advancement of technology. Examining its benefits, challenges and potential for future growth, he says IoT is “revolutionising the way businesses handle logistics and operations”.

He adds: “Incorporating IoT into supply chain management offers numerous benefits and, as the technology continues to evolve, the IoT's role in supply chain management is expected to expand, creating even more opportunities for innovation and optimisation.”

Top 10: Disruptive Technologies (2024)
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