Top 3 Emerging Logistics Trends 2021
By Kelsea Mann
As we are now a few years into the new year for 2021, you might be wondering how logistics trends are changing for this year. 2020 brought us a lot of change, with the pandemic rapidly increasing digitalization, new trends are surely on the horizon for this year. Vaccinations and the spring season are right around the corner, so get your company ready by incorporating some of these emerging logistics trends for 2021.
Trend 1: Technology Assistance
Hyperautomation was recently named as a top supply chain trend by Gartner¹, where it was defined as “a framework to mix and match a vast array of technologies in the best possible way, such as historic legacy platforms with recently deployed tools and planned investments”. We can break down this term to simply mean humans and machines working together. Technologies like RPA (robotic process automation) and ML (machine learning) aren’t new, but hyperautomation is a term given to incorporating humans into efforts assisted by automation. A recent article from Catalytic² breaks down the components of hyperautomation into Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Intelligent Business Management, Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Analytics. See these terms defined below:
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) : In simple terms, implementing RPA is using software, or a “robot” to run applications for a wide range of tasks. These can include processing transactions, manipulating data, triggering a response like sending an email and more³.
Intelligent Business Management: In contrast to RPA, Intelligent Business Management focuses on just a single task. Intelligent business management process suites (iBMPS) combine business process management software with capabilities from artificial intelligence, to create a seamless end-to-end workflow⁴.
Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI is a new buzz word of the industry, and a term you’ve probably been hearing a lot recently. Software that uses AI can range from identifying data trends with Machine Learning, to natural language processing (the technology used in voice assistants, like Siri), to intelligent optical character recognition. Each have their own applications, but can come together to help logistics professionals streamline operations.
Advanced Analytics: As technology becomes more advanced, businesses can take advantage of statistical reports which constantly update and compute. Advanced analytics can aid in forecasting outcomes and generating recommendations to ensure the maximum ROI for supply chain executives.
Trend 2: Green Logistics
Sustainability has been a global trend for at least a couple of years, but in 2021 it’s predicted to enter global supply chain logistics with force. This is because in many companies, sustainability is leaving the focus of just a single department, and moving to become a company wide initiative. Not only does focusing on sustainability lessen your company’s carbon footprint, it also incentivizes customers to buy your product, and talent to join your company⁵. On top of that, a recent Harvard Business Review study reported businesses focused on sustainability grow nearly 6 times faster⁶ than those who don’t. In conclusion, minimizing the ecological impacts of your logistics activities is a benefit for the environment and your company. Hit the follow button to keep up with us when we dive further into this topic next week.
Trend 3: Omni-Channel Services, and Normalized Contactless Delivery
The impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, coupled with the rise of Generation Z becoming adult consumers in recent years, the majority of customers for any business are used to having options. Whether customers are shopping online or in store, they’re going to be looking for a range of options regarding how and when they’ll be able to get their products. Using a multitude of pieces in your supply chain, such as an external delivery service, will help get products to customers on time, or sooner. Partnering with services like PartRunner will help you keep an edge over your competition, by beating the traditional method of sending out many shipments on the same truck. Keeping multiple supply channels open and active will boost sales, supply chain management and more, especially in 2021. In one of our previous blog posts, we discussed how decentralized supply chains can help companies provide better customer experiences. We highly recommend you read this short article in conjunction with today’s blog post.
¹ “Gartner Top 8 Supply Chain Technology Trends for 2020” By Gartner https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-top-8-supply-chain-technology-trends-for-2020/
² “What is hyperautomation?” By Catalytic https://www.catalytic.com/blog/what-is-hyperautomation
³ “What is RPA?” By CIO https://www.cio.com/article/3236451/what-is-rpa-robotic-process-automation-explained.html
⁴ “What makes an iBPMS stand above the rest?” By IBM https://www.ibm.com/blogs/cloud-computing/2019/02/20/intelligent-business-process-management-suite-ibpms/#:~:text=An%20iBPMS%20is%20an%20integrated,industry%20and%20organizational%20specific%20processes
⁵ “5 Global Supply Chain and Logistics trends 2021” https://blog.greencarrier.com/5-global-supply-chain-and-logistics-trends-2021/
⁶ “Research: Actually, Consumers Do Buy Sustainable Products” https://hbr.org/2019/06/research-actually-consumers-do-buy-sustainable-products
Image Attributions (All Images Listed Under Commercial License Use):
https://bdtechtalks.com/2018/10/08/artificial-intelligence-vs-machine-learning/ By depositphotos.com
https://blog.westerndigital.com/global-supply-chain-data-paperless-future/ Provided by Western Digital
https://sourcingjournal.com/topics/lifestyle-monitor/coronavirus-online-shopping-ecommerce-omnichannel-bopis-euromonitor-facebook-214068/ “Cardboard boxes on the doormat near the entrance door” By Getty Images