By: Doug Baker, Vice President, Industry Relations, FMI

technology supply chain

Technology innovation has disrupted traditional supply chain business strategies and operations. Over the next decade, technological investments in supply chain will focus on driving and fulfilling growth while improving business performance.

Facing increased competition, complexity and heightened consumer expectations, companies must evaluate and deploy the right technologies to transform their supply chain networks and business models to strengthen the resiliency to respond to changing marketplace conditions. With change comes risk and supply chain leaders need to assess those risks and the rewards by making wise technology choices.

Technology solutions, by their very nature, are disruptive. These solutions challenge traditional business norms and managing complexity is hard work. There is a formable learning curve with technology; however, business decisions must be rooted in solving problems, seizing opportunities and providing a company with a sustainable competitive advantage. 

Supply chain transformation can be accelerated through breakthrough thinking, innovation and evaluating technology tools that align with business strategies and performance improvement goals. The key challenge is how, where and when to get started and how best to prioritize investments in the near and longer term.

Supply chain management technology tools can add significant value to business operations. Cost control management, revenue growth and return on capital invested are important issues that retailers and manufacturers must consider. However, companies still require people to develop business strategies, establish performance improvement goals and manage the day-to-day execution of business plans. There are several areas where supply chain technologies can make a big difference in improving business operations.

Improving Access to SMART Information

Technologies that work well connect isolated data sources. When distinct nodes and functions of a supply chain don’t exchange accurate information in a reliable way, data silos are created resulting in inaccurate forecasts, flawed execution, and longer reaction times. The ability to see across your complete business enterprise creates visibility and improves business performance. Visibility allows companies to anticipate more clearly, plan more effectively and respond faster.

Enhancing Visibility and Insights

The key to effective decision making is insight. The right supply chain technology tools make it easier to evaluate data and gain insights on customer demand signals, transportation and warehouse logistics needs as well as supplier lead times that can enhance supply chain performance.


It’s easier for executives to address problems or capitalize on opportunities much faster when they have better insight. If processes, systems or organizations have obstacles or silos they react slower.

Enhanced Collaboration

Retailers and manufacturers that can master the art and science of collaboration regularly outperform their peers financially through growth, cost savings and service levels.

Supply chains that use systems that enable, monitor and evaluate collaboration between individuals, departments and organizations to maintain a consistent flow of information and products outperform their peer group.

Build Customer Loyalty

Shoppers need confidence that the products they’re looking for are in stock. Retailers want on-time-and-in-full shipments to ensure that they have the necessary products in stores or online. As a result, consumer experience and loyalty are enhanced. This would not be possible without supply chain technology’s visibility, accuracy and agility capabilities.

Automation and Robotics

Automation and robotics will play an increasingly important role in the supply chain, used to move products through a warehouse, during transport and as part of the fulfillment process.  Machines will be assigned many manual tasks now owned by humans, from picking and packing orders to automating loading.

AI, Machine Learning and Analytics

By harnessing technologies like AI, machine learning and predictive analytics, companies can automate warehouse operations, improve delivery times, proactively manage inventory, optimize strategic sourcing and create new customer experiences that increase satisfaction.

To address and solve these challenges FMI is convening industry leaders and supply chain professionals in Addison, Texas on September 26-28 at the 2023 FMI Supply Chain Forum.

The program will feature a general session on Accelerating Technology Transformation in Supply Chain facilitated by Gary Hawkins, CEO of the Center for Advancing Retail & Technology.

Register for the 2023 FMI Supply Chain Forum