2015 is in the rear view mirror and it’s time to look ahead. While you certainly want your supply chain planning to be as detailed as possible, it probably won’t contain everything and there will inevitably be some things you didn’t see coming. So it’s important to focus your efforts on the areas that are most likely to have a big impact on your business. Everybody’s talking about big data and sustainability, but what else should be on your 2016 supply chain plan?

Today’s supply chain executives aren’t simply being asked to do more with less; they’re expected to develop new approaches that get better results faster – while cutting cost and increasing profit. In an era of fast-moving upstarts and collaborative business models, supply chain is the nexus of a company’s transformation. With changes necessary across operational and technical siloes of old, more than 2,000 supply chain professionals descended on San Jose, California, in late January for Oracle’s Modern Supply Chain Experience (formerly Value Chain Summit) to explore new approaches and network with peers from around the world.

Fast and slow. Traditional and revolutionary. That’s “bimodal.” This year’s conference theme will explore how today’s global supply chain must operate on a two-part bimodal supply chain strategy — delivering efficiency and innovation at the same time. As an attendee at this year’s Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2016, May 17-19 at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Ariz., you’ll have access to the latest research, trends and technologies that support the new bimodal approach — and you’ll leave with a list of actionable next steps to help make it a reality. 

There is a lot of growth toward implementing new technology innovations within supply chains, and the Internet of Things (IoT)—a network that connects physical objects, communications, software, and sensors to allow machines to transfer data over a network without human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction—has garnered a high level of interest and hype, largely driven from the consumer market with focus on smart, connected kitchen appliances, cars, and wearable activity trackers.

However, the logical extension of the IoT to industrial applications has the potential to transform numerous industries, including transportation, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and energy, while working under the new name “Industrial IoT.” The disruptive power of the industrial IoT will bring non-technology industries into the digital age by connecting machines, factories, and industrial infrastructures via sensors and other devices. 

It is astonishing to think about the rapid pace of data creation worldwide. Recent IDC research predicts that data production will be 44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009. How to leverage, authenticate or secure this abundance of data is forcing disruption and innovation in nearly every industry today.

Customer-centric philosophy is influencing how industries evolve. Manufacturing and supply chain processes are increasingly reliant on quality data in order to satisfy these new demands. But for as long as computers have been in existence, the world of data has suffered from a “garbage in, garbage out” cycle of inaccuracies. Our systems will unquestioningly process the input data provided and produce often undesired output. With many other competing priorities, it has become a challenge for many organizations to guarantee inventory, reduce inefficiencies and ultimately satisfy consumers because of data inconsistencies.

The supply chain industry is going through a number of natural transitions as it advances and new technologies become part of the overall business landscape. A key driver of this change is automation, which impacts every area of the supply chain – from procurement to delivery to staying compliant with government regulations. Automation plays an important role in standardizing the industry and enabling supply chains to be more productive and cost-efficient. But how, exactly, can companies automate their best practices?

Digitization, together with today’s increasing proliferation of data, on everything from material flows to customer preferences, is rapidly changing the way companies do business, highlighting a powerful need for enhanced data management, analytics and talent.

In fact, the way organizations capture and use data is changing the manner in which those organizations work, creating a substantial difference in efficiency, costs and customer satisfaction.

In today’s economy, companies must keep pace with technology and the marketplace, and are faced with the dilemma of whether to build or buy. Should the company build new business solutions from scratch or utilize an off-the-shelf application to fit their needs? Having talked to two companies recently who considered building their own solutions, we decided to address the build or buy decision process and identify key factors that should be considered.


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