Digital supply chain transformation a key priority for three quarters of European firms

Supply chain monitoring, tracking and visibility solutions top investment categories in 2024

European firms are focused on digital transformation in 2024, with three quarters respondents to an industry survey saying that it is a key priority

The survey, which is part of the free-to-download State of European Supply Chains report, found that for 27% of companies, supply chain digital transformation is a top priority and a further 48% said it was high up on their list.  

This drive is pushing investment towards visibility and planning areas. The research found that the top three areas that companies are focusing their spending on are supply chain visibility solutions (68%), analytics (51%) and forecasting (47%).

This strategy is based around addressing gaps in visibility, which the report found was a major stumbling block for supply chains, but also because these technologies were found to create resilience against logistics and manufacturing shocks.

At least three-quarters of respondents said that they had seen improved resilience from usage of forecasting (84%), analytics (81%), supply chain visibility solutions (81%), supply chain management software (78%) and process automation technologies (75%).

These leading investments are safe bets, generating clear returns, whereas the survey found that other technologies, typically those still emerging, were proving trickier to master. While 53% of respondents said that they had deployed the Internet of Things (IoT), just 24% said they had been able to drive resilience as a result. Other riskier technologies are cloud computing and 5G (63% have deployed, but 37% are deriving resilience), digital twins (45% to 24%), 3D printing (46% to 13%) and blockchain (41% to 9%).

Even with this heightened focus, there may be a need for organisations to do more, as just 12% think that their investment strategy is currently enough to fully support the development of their supply chain, with the vast majority – 75% – saying that it only partially meets their needs.

“Planning transformation should be a priority for European companies, enabled by digital transformation,” says Corina Cioranu, CPO & Global Head of Procurement Personal Care, Unilever in the report. This “will have a positive impact on operations through less waste, better inventory management, and higher resilience, as well as in shelf availability through demand sensing and quick responses to consumer preferences.”

 “The evolution of technology has enhanced business capabilities in monitoring and responding to supply chain disruptions,” agrees Geanina-Lavinia Sincu, Regional Head of Lead Logistics Products & Cold Chain Management – Europe, Maersk. “Big data and machine learning provide predictive insights on potential congestion points, while digital solutions offer real time updates on order, statuses and scheduling changes. This increased visibility and awareness allows businesses to manage disruptions more effectively.”

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