Throughout history, disruptive technologies have appeared every 10 to 20 years. Mainframe computers (1960),
the PC revolution (1980) and the world-wide web (1990) are examples. Each fundamentally changed the way we live.
Now, we’re experiencing an unprecedented phenomenon—the collective disruption caused by the convergence of many new technologies, almost simultaneously. There’s no parallel in history.
By their capabilities and their convergence, these technologies are changing the way we live. They’re disrupting the marketplace and enabling synergistic innovation. In many cases, the value to consumers and providers is greater than would be generated by any single technology.
In addition, the ability to rapidly scale globally, with little capital, has given power to individual entrepreneurs and small companies. For these smaller organizations, it has helped to level the playing field against the world’s largest corporations—again, significantly accelerating the pace of change.
The list of disruptive technologies keeps getting longer. How many of these were you thinking of as you started to read this article?
The journey to cloud
Smart, mobile and wearable devices
Self-guided vehicles, micro-robots and drones
Digitization, 3D printing
IIoT, machine learning, augmented reality, cognitive computing
How is this all affecting supply chain and manufacturing?
We’re experiencing a foundational change in end-to-end-supply chain and manufacturing strategies. Individuals and organizations who adapt will differentiate and flourish; those do not will become marginal.
Three macro trends will accelerate this rate of change:
The transformation of PLM—Consumers are driving design, looking for individualization and performance of the products they want
The transformation of the supply chain—Order of magnitude reductions in cycle time and cost, from desire to delivery
The transformation of production—Customized products in a mass-manufacturing environment offering personalized orders yet keeping economies of scale
Of course, despite all the change, the critical success factors in implementing these technologies and harnessing value are the same. Successful implementation still requires that skilled practitioners are continuously learning, adapting and refining their approach in regard to business alignment, value proposition, ROI and prioritization; continuously retraining people, managing culture and re-thinking the reward structure; continuously developing effective methodologies and streamlining processes for delivery; continuously selecting effective technologies and tools to create technology ecosystems that mitigate risk; and continuously focusing on sustainability, continuous improvement and expansion.
This is an exciting time! This is the “Big Switch” detailed by Nicholas Carr. And while it’s natural to be anxious, this convergence of disruptions is the journey of a lifetime for professionals who are about to enter (or are already engaged in) the world of supply chain and manufacturing.
Raj Jakhete is senior director of business development with Factora.