With GenAI driving digital transformation and innovation in the logistics, warehousing and e-commerce supply chain ecosystems, three powerful trends are emerging…

Generative AI (GenAI) is garnering plenty of global attention for its human-like ability to power chatbots and write everything from emails to essays. However, when it comes to transforming supply chains, the biggest priority for most businesses must be in advancing digitalization, championing quality data, and addressing what is often still a deep disconnect between digital and physical networks.  

Historically, supply chains were all about the physical: the planes, trains, trucks, and sea freighters that made global commerce happen — in tandem with “hard” infrastructure such as cities, ground hubs, and ports. But the way we ship, transport and deliver globally has fundamentally changed.  

As e-commerce growth explodes, supply chains have transformed with every single shipment having a digital layer. The availability and quality of data within the global supply chain is not just increasing exponentially: it is being made useful through machine learning and trained with AI. 

Kawal Preet, President (AMEA), FedEx

Three trends shaping data quality

The true value of AI rests in data, and how that can drive simplification, digitalization and in turn, strengthen risk management or growth. Gartner research is showing that the top obstacle holding back supply chain transformation initiatives is quality data, and there are three trends to watch in this landscape.

    1. Location Intelligence: By combining the digital and physical, this type of data remains a largely untapped asset for many industries. The ability to map, visualize and transform how decisions are made in delivery and route planning is unlocking value, replacing simple data visualization on maps with data that is geospatially layered, integrated and analyzed. End-to-end integration of this data across both digital and physical networks is critical. So too, is the integration of customer or internal data with that of logistics networks.

      Case in point: Next-level route planning technology uses location intelligence to “geocode” pick-up and delivery locations using advanced statistical algorithms, then layering multiple data points onto digital maps and creating optimal delivery routes that can be continually improved in real-time.

    2. Know your shipment is also being completely reimagined. This is not just location or spatial-based information. Instead, this type of intelligence traverses many different layers: from big data and analytics to the anywhere-anytime access of the Cloud, to the more cohesive management of shipment details. Such a multi-faceted data flow will deliver even greater impact in the future.

      For instance, digital control towers with an end-to-end view of the supply chain will allow people to access data when and where they need it. Such a ‘know-your-shipment’ smart tool provides greater visibility of shipments, saves time, narrows down issues, and enables the operator to intervene early, ensuring speedy resolution. Another smart tool of this nature can combine big data with machine learning to create enhanced tracking with greater accuracy of estimated delivery times and updates for early or delayed shipments.

    3. The rise of ‘elastic’ logistics: The ability to flex schedules, capacity, and route optimization in line with volatile markets is the third trend to watch. To easily expand or shrink supply chains brings greater flexibility in shipping, manufacturing, and transportation. It transforms operations and ensures close alignment with strategy and risk management.

      We have long seen the benefit of adaptive, flexible logistics. Now that is rising to a completely new level through clever use of data and predictive analytics: connecting siloed processes, improving resource utilization and reducing operational costs.

      For instance, AI is being used for demand forecasting platforms to improve capacity planning. More robotic process automation can be used to offer greater ‘elasticity’ to logistics operators to meet demand — some capable of sorting up to 1,000 packages per hour and covering up to 100 destinations simultaneously.

Building next-generation supply chains  

With these trends growing in scale and accessibility, business resilience and efficiency in the industry will be enhanced together with strengthened risk management for supply chains.

Decision making capabilities will be better-informed, not just in supply chains but across entire organizations, resulting in the seamless movement of goods and services across borders. 

With business strategies firmly backed by data, AI and deep knowledge, customer support, employee experience and data integrity and security will continue to revolve and evolve in the right directions.