Trends for your Supply Chain in 2018


Parallel to the holiday joy December brings into the hearts of millions, lies a cold and wintry truth that the first fiscal quarter is right around the corner. For some this brings excitement, for others it brings anxieties.

2018 remains an enigma, but the trends next year plans to bring have already begun to poke their heads out their shells.

As for 2017, it has been an exciting year for the innovation and optimization of businesses’ value chains; especially supply chain management. Supply chains — in general — reaped the benefits of technological advancements, and have begun to create a culture of acceptance for digital transformation.

In the spirit of C.S. Lewis it seems things are trending, “Onward and Upward. To Narnia and the North.” To Narnia and the North I will soon take you, my beloved readers.

But, in the spirit of Kodiak Community, I must ceremoniously reflect on the rollercoaster of a year that has been, 2017.

Russia hacked; Trump was inaugurated; Press secretaries were fired, then hired, then fired, then hired, then fired (you get it); Women Marched around the world; Kim Jong-un played with his missiles; France elected Macron; Tragedies struck Manchester and Las Vegas, but love defeated hate; The moon eclipsed the sun; Verizon bought Yahoo; “Des-paaa-cito”; Massive investments were dumped into tech (ML, AI, IoT); and all everyone got the wake-up call they needed #metoo.

As the days continue to fall off the calendar, 2017’s experiences form into tomorrow’s influences. A memory of the good and bad that every year brings us on this little galactic fleck we call earth.

Now lets try and hypothesize what in the hell next year will bring…

Here is: Trends for your Supply Chain in 2018!


Trends are pointing towards a younger, more agile, workforce within the procurement and supply chain profession.

Deloitte’s 2017 CPO Survey revealed that 60% of CPO’s believe that their teams “lack the sufficient capability to deliver the procurement strategy” (Deloitte 2017).

Source: Deloitte

Simultaneously, 87% of the CPO’s surveyed agreed that talent must be held as one of the key indicators of driving procurement performance.

With digital integration becoming a large focus into the efficiency of procurement teams, focus on digitally competent talent will too come into focus.

In a study by Penske Logistics, 300 Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) members — under the age of 30 years old — were surveyed. The study’s focus was to get to the bottom of why so many young professionals were choosing the career path of SCM. Their results found that they see great potential in the field and moreover, 81% of respondents strongly agreed that SCM was a solid career choice.

The study also found that the majority of respondents preferred an in-person-training compared to distance training- online, or through large seminars. They wanted to get an immersive training experience such as task-based activities (Supply Chain Quarterly 2017).

Look for 2018 to bring younger, hungry talent, a greater focus on training and for talent to have a strong interest in coming technologies.

Continued Development of Disruptive Technology

Two disruptive technologies — I expect to continue their development and impact — within the global supply chain are Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain Technology.

Artificial Intelligence (AI):

AI boasts sub-technologies such as Machine Learning (ML), Chatbots, and Natural Language Processing (NLP). All of which have created a buzz of hypothesized implementation, amongst supply chain professionals.

As reported by Louis Colombus in a Forbes Magazine article:

· 80% of enterprises already have some form of AI (machine learning, deep learning) in production today.

· 30% of enterprises are planning on expanding their AI investments over the next 36 months (Forbes 2017).

While many companies race to implement AI into their supply chain activities, there remain clear boundaries. Regardless, many supply chain professionals see the autonomy and cognitive capabilities that AI tech offers as the next frontier of supply chain activities.

See figure below illustrating the feelings surrounding autonomous technologies in procurement.

Source: Deloitte

In the last year $4B in VC cash has been dumped into technology vendors building artificially intelligent products (Banker 2017).

If AI isn’t a trend in your supply chain during 2018, there’s going to be a lot of frowning in Silicon Valley.


Blockchain technology is a disruption that lies a bit further in the future, but its buzz will effect your supply chain and business; regardless of its actual development.

Blockchains hold the potential for decentralization, improved transparency, enhanced governance, better due diligence, and the elimination of global boundaries.

The public ledger format focuses on trust, transparency and visibility. Three attributes any and every supply chain would like to see more of.

The implementation of Blockchain technology into supply chains will create large gaps in enterprise competition. For this reason, it will land on every supply chain-trend list for 2018 and most years following.

Spend Analysis

Spend analysis is a crucial domain, often taken for granted — yet completely necessary — in any quality procurement or sourcing strategy.

Back to the 2017 CPO Survey developed by Deloitte, it was found that CPO’s top priority in 2016 and 2017 was cost reduction.

79% agreed upon this fact, which landed cost reduction as the top area of concern. There isn’t much sign of this changing, even with risk management and innovation as growing concerns.

Source: Deloitte

Tossing fuel onto the cost reduction fire, both strategic and operational procurement solutions are looking to get a facelift. CPO’s from the same survey have agreed that the development and renewal of strategic and operational procurement solutions are the second and third biggest areas in technology make impact in the next two years (Deloitte 2017).

Source: Deloitte

Last time I checked, 2018 is one of the next two years…

Common sense tells us, spend analysis will become a trend of your supply chain if it isn’t already.

Logistics’ Golden Days


I’m going to be completely honest with you. There are so many exciting things happening on the logistics side of supply chain management that I could probably designate an entire post to: ‘Coming Trends in Logistics for 2018’

But, I apologize to my logistic gurus out there; this subsection will have to do.

Data Driven Logistics

Big Data Analytics and intelligent logistics solutions have shifted the tables for logistics providers, globally.

Supply Chain Management Review sees Data Driven Logistics as one of the biggest trends for 2018 as well. Their comments suggest that “[…] companies will continue to adopt big-data algorithms, data-visualization techniques and smarter analytics to boost process efficiency and shorten the delivery times. However, the big change in 2018 will be that the companies are expected to use geography-specific data to anticipate demand of certain products in a region and ship in advance” (SCMR 2017).

One of the main technological advancements that will make this shift possible is the continuing emergence of IoT (Internet of Things) solutions. This past year, global spending is projected to surpass $800B on IoT technology.

Furtherance of Drone Technology

As companies look to gain a competitive edge in the shipping of consumer products, some will branch out and try their hands at drone shipping.

Continued emergence of drone use will be seen in the coming years. Drones offer a sheer competitive advantage in terms of automation, and companies’ lack of requirement to abide by conventional working rights.

Perfect Order Deliveries

With increased technological intelligence, comes new standards.

Logistic activities will be functioning with nearly total visibility, come 2018. This means a consumer’s journey from purchase to delivery will too reach a new level of normality.

Perfect order deliveries are simply a gauge of how satisfied a consumer is with the journey of the products they order. Perfect orders require perfect everything, and therefore are hard to achieve considering the elaborateness of collaboration required. Nonetheless, expect perfect orders — and the goal setting of perfect orders — to be a focus of your supply chain logistics come next year.

Elastic Logistics

Elastic Logistics will become a completely new trend for 2018, considering it’s existence is contingent upon emerging technology.

“Flexible automation solutions increase the agility and elasticity of the logistics infrastructure to meet market fluctuations, cost effectively. With optimal utilization, companies can make their operations flexible enough to expand and shrink capabilities to align with the demands within the supply chain model at a given time” (SCMR 2017).

Final Thoughts

There you have it.

Our north stars within the global Supply Chain, year 2018.

But, in reality, my guess is as good as yours.

If you like what you’ve seen, give this post a share! If you have a trend or comment to add to the discussion, please leave a comment. We’d be happy to discuss!

Until next week.

This publication is brought to you by author Sam Jenks, but also on part by Kodiak Rating — A Supplier Relationship Management SaaS functioning out of Stockholm, Sweden. Kodiak Community intends to challenge traditional business practices with innovative thinking and creation.




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