Digital supply chain expectations outpace reality, says new study

More than half of surveyed manufacturers expect digital supply networks will provide benefits, but only 28 percent have started implementing them

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New research which was conducted by and the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) indicates that while U.S. shippers are increasingly aware of the benefits of digital supply networks (DSNs), many “remain in the early phases” of adoption.

The study, “Embracing a digital future: How manufacturers can unlock the transformative benefits of digital supply networks,” reveals a disconnect between executives’ opinions of their DSN efforts and actual implementation.

Transportation economist, Noël Perry, told Supply Chain Management Review that he was not surprised by the findings.

“Supply chain managers are taking a cautious approach to digitization,” he says. “And for the time being, that may be a good idea. They should not be spending too much on new technology at this point, but should be poised to adapt when the time is right…which should come soon.”

Perry, who recently launched a new informational website, “ also advises managers to stay well informed on dynamic changes in the industry by attending conferences and trade events.

The survey of more than 200 manufacturing organizations found that 51 percent of respondents believe their DSN maturity is at least “above average” compared to competitors, yet only 28 percent have started implementing DSN solutions.

Furthermore, survey results suggest that end-to-end supply chain transparency is the No. 1 operational goal for many manufacturers, as it represents the key to significant efficiency gains, yet only 6 percent of survey respondents are part of a manufacturing ecosystem in which every member of the ecosystem can see each other’s data.

“While enthusiasm is high and manufacturers realize the benefits of Digital Supply Networks, many companies struggle to identify the right technology landscape which will provide the most value when they are approaching a digital shift, said Stephen Laaper, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and co-author of the study. “As a result, many hold off with key aspects of their transformation, which in turn puts their transformation at too slow a place to avoid disruption.”


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [ protected]

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