Innovation in the supply chain: what’s left?

Innovation in the supply chain: what’s left?

I read three statistics recently that, when taken together, gave me some clarity about innovation in the supply chain, and where the stumbling blocks to change most likely are. I’m also more convinced than ever that there is a ton of low hanging fruit that you and your organization can take advantage of.

Innovation isn’t held back by the fear of technology

90% Of experts in transport and logistics believe that data is essential for success compared to an average of 83% of experts in other sectors. So belief in the power of artificial intelligence or AI and machine learning is deeply rooted.

This is good news, not just for consultants like me and the team at PLS, but also for organizations that want to implement change and are concerned that their managers won’t get onboard.

The supply chain hasn’t been optimized…yet

Only 28% of transportation and logistics companies rate themselves as advanced in their handling of data, and in their integration with technologies such as AI or IoT. This is a huge opportunity for organizations to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

Companies that have cutting-edge tech and expertise that can be applied in this area are going to achieve durable cost-savings and a renewed ability to weather tough economic times. Companies that don’t invest in getting lean, partly through integration of tech, will suffer.


The supply chain is an ever-changing ecosystem of businesses just waiting to be innovated.


Don’t take my word for it. Look at the investments of the biggest supply chain organizations UPS and Amazon and their partners such as IBM and so much more.

Technology and the IoT is more disruptive than you think

50% of transportation and logistics companies also feel that a lack of digital culture exists among their staff. This is the key statistic. There is a huge opportunity for labor optimization in this area, as the gap between digital and non-digital workers widens.

Many analysts are saying that supply chain organizations are ready and willing to enact digitalization, but that projects will stall as staff are unready, untrained, or simply unwilling to do what needs to be done – this means the industry is ripe to be changed from the outside by entrepreneurial minded professionals, startup owners, etc.

The physical internet is the new supply chain

Material Handling & Logistics highlighted a number of outcomes related to the digitalization of the transportation and logistics sector including autonomous vehicles such as forklifts, self-driving cargo ships and last mile delivery changes that are increasing efficiency, decreasing costs and improving the customer experience.

Clearly, there is still a lot of opportunity for small and medium enterprises up and down the supply chain. And the emergence of the physical internet in huge transport hubs, makes integration further down the supply chain helpful, profitable and quite frankly, seemingly inevitable.


Disruptive technology is changing the supply chain.


Some analysts believe that one of the biggest impacts on the supply chain will be the introduction of more creative or left-brained executives, as well as disruption from creative startup companies—organizations that can reimagine the flow of goods and services in ways that traditional leaders cannot—but again I see this as essentially local, creative variations on the larger system we will come to know as the physical internet.

The innovation takeaway

Don’t be fooled that all of the innovation has already been implemented or even envisioned for supply chain organizations. The current moment is full of opportunity for creative thinking, adoption of cloud-based tech, reimagining of the supply chain by startup companies and so much more.

If you’ve got questions about how your organization can get started on securing a leaner, more profitable future, follow, like and share us on Facebook and LinkedIn or get in touch on our website.


John Moore – Founder

Packaging & Logistics Solutions (PLS)

John is responsible for company efforts to drive value and differentiation in packaging for fulfillment, e-commerce, and manufacturing customers. He has 25 years of packaging leadership experience and has served at the helm of IQpack since early 2013.