Visibility lays the groundwork for next-level insights enabled by applying intelligent algorithms to visible data. Smart programs using machine learning and other sorts of AI can provide a deeper understanding of trends, anomalies, and even causes of process effects. These technologies also tend to be useful when applied to repeated processes that produce massive amounts of data like sales, clickstreams, asset monitoring, and other transactions. Levels of intelligence include visualization, analytics, prediction, and prescription.
Efficiency and customer experience
New technological capabilities go far beyond the essential benefits of greater efficiency. Automation now means better speed, quality, and improved user interactions. In manufacturing, emerging examples illustrate the super-productivity of robots and humans working side-by-side—known as cobots— arrangements that are more productive than either robots or humans working alone. In services, automation is improving interactions between service providers and customers, as well as between supply chain partners.
Agility and customization
The holy grail of digital transformation is agility— the ability to quickly and efficiently adapt supply chain capacity and resources to satisfy changing conditions. Though most companies are converging on efficiency, some are developing visions of agility and customization. At the very best levels of maturity, firms will apply automation and insight to develop systems that both predict and adapt to changes, including shifts in demand, disruptions, environmental and regulatory changes, and competitors’ maneuvers.
Many monikers have been used to describe this capability, including on-demand, uberized, mass-customized, and responsive. Essentially, this suggests breaking constraints and unfixing capacities within the supply chain, moving to variable cost structures and building flexibilities that enable rapid scalability, supply-demand matching, seamless transitions, and changeovers, increased operating range, optimal re-routing, and dynamic sourcing.
This article synthesizes the insights garnered from research spanning a good range of logistics companies. We trust that the outlines and answers offered here will stimulate ideas and foster new ways of visualizing possibilities in digital transformation journeys. Few firms appear to be far down the trail toward maturity, but the stories and examples we uncovered promise an exciting future for the logistics domain. It is likely that, given the massive turbulence in technologies, geopolitics, and economics over this period, many executives are wary of making big investments; they are waiting for the uncertainties caused due to COVID-19 to stabilize. The new normal is an operating environment full of unresolved and continuing uncertainty. Consequently, the future will belong to organizations that advance toward more digitized, connected, intelligent, adaptive models, ensuing well-thought-out, and agile roadmaps for digital transformation.