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  First Thoughts

    Dan Gilmore


    Supply Chain Digest

Feb. 11 , 2022

2022 Supply Chain Predictions from the Analysts Part 2

Mobile Robots Rising, Merging Digital Twin and Control Tower Projects, More

Last week, I began my annual look at what leading analysts have in their crystal balls in terms of predictions for 2022 and and beyond.
(See 2022 Supply Chain Predictions from the Analysts Part 2.)


I started with with Gartner, and its "predicts" for 2022 relative to supply chain strategy.

Gilmore Says....

Tim Payne predicts that "Through 2026, 80% of companies will suffer significant value loss due to failing to merge their digital supply chain twin and control tower initiatives."

What do you say?

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This week, I will summarize and comment on Gartner predicts on supply chain technology.


Before delivering five different predictions by anywhere from one to two different analyst authors each, the Gartner researchers cite a variety of drivers behind this year's supply chain technology predictions:


Labor as a Constrained and Expensive Asset: And getting worse.


Agility/Adaptability/Flexibility: Application portfolios must become more accommodating to rapid change.


Embedded Intelligence: Need for more in-line analytics.


Distributed Intelligence/Intelligence at the Edge: Addressing  latency between the core application in the Cloud and what is happening on "the edge."


Responsiveness and Resiliency: Many of the supply chain technologies already in place were not built around responsiveness as a core design principle.


Following that, the first prediction is from our friend Gartner analyst Dwight Klappich: "By 2026, 75% of large enterprises will have adopted some form of intralogistics smart robots in their warehouse operations."


He cites a recent Gartner survey that found 96% of respondents said their organizations already use, or plan to deploy, cyber-physical automation in their warehouses and/or manufacturing operations.


I am not quite sure what "cyber-physical automation" is, but I will assume it includes mobile robots.


Klappich then notes that "The benefits of investing in greater levels of automation are clear. However, few companies have the financial wherewithal, or resources, to pursue large-scale, complex, expensive, and longtime-to-value investments in traditional (legacy) "bolted-to-the-floor" material-handling automation."


Enter mobile robots, which Klappich says "can more readily and inexpensively be implemented, are more scalable to better manage extremes in peaks and troughs of demand, and they are adaptable and can easily be repurposed for new use cases."


Klappich is certainly on-spot on this one. But I am less behind his recommendation that companies should "Organize to maximize the return on robotics investments by building a robotics center of excellence," though I will note some companies are creating positions for "chief robotics officers."


Next up, Gartner analyst Andrew Stevens, who predicts that "Through 2025, 25% of supply chain decisions will be made across intelligent edge ecosystems."


Ok, let's start by answering the question "What is an intelligent edge ecosystem?"


"Edges are physical locations where things, people and data connect," Stevens writes. OK, that helps a bit - it's about local operations, not centralized applications. He adds that "Edge ecosystems transform operations by mobilizing data to the edge, allowing decision making close to the original source of information."


We're also told that "Edge ecosystems are technology-agnostic, utilizing portfolios of technologies, such as IoT, vision sensors, biometrics, smart cameras, RFID and near-field communications (NFC)." So it also has to do with a lot of data capture - not all of which needs to be sent to the great database in the Cloud. It  can be used to make decisions locally.


This is all a little deep for most of us, I think, and the prediction would have been enhanced with some examples of specific edge applications. But if you look at data collection system provider Zebra Technologies' stock price over the past year or so, it tells you there might be something to this.


Finally for this week, Gartner analyst Tim Payne predicts that "Through 2026, 80% of companies will suffer significant value loss due to failing to merge their digital supply chain twin and control tower initiatives."


That's an interesting notion - I must confess I have not really connected the two technologies.


With a lot of hype around both control towers and digital twins, there is "confusion for end users and many questions about what role these two capabilities play in a digital supply chain transformation roadmap," Payne says.


And consistent with my perception, Payne says that "the majority [of companies] don't yet see that these two initiatives are closely related and should be merged." Maybe like me and maybe you, you associate controls towers with execution management, and digital twins with planning/simulation.


But the desired goal should be integrated planning and execution, Payne says. He gives as an example this scenario: "If this shipment is predicted to be delayed [from the digital twin], then this prescribed response is the best resolution for transportation [via the control tower]."


"If these two digital initiatives remain unmerged, then neither is operating optimally," Payne believes, recommending that companies put the integration of these two systems as a part of their supply chain technology road maps.


My view: Payne is probably correct, but each technology is hard enough to get going and drive value on their own - it may just be a bridge too far think about merging the projects/tools in the near or even mid-term.


So there you have it - reviews of three of the five supply chain technology predictions from Gartner for 2022. I wish there had been a more specific to supply chain planning, but these were fine. Hope you enjoyed it.


More predictions from the analysts at IDC for next week.

Any reaction to the Gartner predicts? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button (email) or section below.

Your Comments/Feedback.




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