Spending on digital transformation could reach nearly $1.2 trillion this year. Eight trends are about to change how supply chains are managed. And augmented realty could help warehouses cope with increased demands.
That’s some of the latest from top market researchers. Here’s your tech provider’s roundup:
Digital-transformation spending: huge and growing fast
You already knew digital transformation was big. But how about $1.18 trillion big?
That’s the amount research firm IDC now expects enterprises worldwide to spend on digital transformation this year.
Not only is that number huge, it’s fast-growing. Compared with spending on digital transformation last year, that $1.18 trillion figure represents a jump of nearly 18%, IDC says.
“Digital transformation,” says IDC researcher Craig Simpson, “is quickly becoming the largest driver of new technology investments and projects.”
Looking ahead, IDC expects that over the next 4 years, worldwide spending on digital transformation will come to a mind-blowing $6 trillion. That would mean a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of roughly 20% over the years 2017 to 2022.
The biggest spenders on digital transformation by industry will be discrete manufacturing and process manufacturing, IDC expects. They’ll be followed by retail, transportation and professional services.
The areas of biggest digital-transformation spending? Those would be autonomic operations, robotic manufacturing and freight management, IDC says. The areas with the fastest-growing spending will be virtualized labs, digital visualization and augmented design management.
8 top supply-chain trends
Researchers at Gartner have come up with a list of 8 trends they say your supply-chain customers ignore at their peril.
These trends have not yet been widely adopted. But Gartner says they could soon disrupt people, business objectives and IT systems. Here are the firm's top 8 supply-chain trends for 2019:
> AI: Artificial intelligence approaches such as self-learning and natural language processing can be used to automate supply-chain processes. These include demand forecasting, production planning and predictive maintenance.
> Advanced analytics: By combining predictive and prescriptive analytics, supply-chain leaders can become more proactive. These technologies can help them take advantage of future opportunities while also avoiding potential disruptions.
> Internet of things: IoT could help supply-chain managers with logistics, customer service and supply availability.
> Robotic process automation: RPA is being used to automate the creation of purchase and sales orders.
> Autonomous things: Devices that include robots, drones and autonomous vehicles use AI to automate functions previously done by people. In the context of supply chains, they can be used for tasks that include inventory checking.
> Digital supply-chain twins: A digital twin essentially duplicates the physical entities of a supply chain, including its products, customers, markets and more. They can then be used to better understand a changing situation or optimize operations.
> Immersive experience: This refers to both augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and conversational “voicebots.” Applications include speeding up equipment changeovers in factories.
> Blockchain: Use of this technology in supply chains is just getting started. But Gartner thinks companies could use blockchain to track global shipments, strengthen security and improve product traceability.
How AR will relieve warehouse managers
Augmented reality may seem like a technology in search of an application. Sure, AR is cool. But what can you actually do with it?
One answer: manage warehouses.
Warehouse managers have 2 big challenges. One, they’re facing increased demand, due to strong international trade. And two, they’re struggling to process goods in a timely way.
AR to the rescue! ABI Research believes AR can help alleviate both issues. As a result, the research firm predicts, the global market for AR-based warehousing solutions should top $23 billion by 2025.
Two other technologies should help warehouse managers, too: voice-directed solutions and real-time location systems.
“Fulfilling higher-order volumes is difficult when warehouses are struggling to hire and maintain staff,” says ABI analyst Nick Finill, “and automation is cost-prohibitive for many distributors.”
AR tools, he adds, can empower the human worker, deliver efficiency gains, and also reduce the time it takes to onboard new or temporary staff.