Government supply chains are experiencing unprecedented challenges. Between rapidly evolving security concerns, cost-cutting and a plethora of technology solutions, supply chain managers will see major changes to the way they work and how they plan in the future. At the crux of all of this is data, which is just beginning to transform this industry. As 2018 kicks off, supply chain managers will want to consider the following key drivers of change this year and down the road in order to keep up with the pack.
- Senior officials focus on supply chain loss and delays
The DOD is looking closely at the impact that lost, damaged or delayed goods have on mission readiness. AFCEA reports that Marine Corps aircraft readiness is at 45 percent vs. the goal of 75 percent. Leaders say this is due in large part to backlog or unavailable parts needed for repair and the lack of visibility in the supply chain. These problems are in dire need of solutions. Suppliers can expect to see involvement in supply chain planning and decisions from further up the chain of command.
- Big data, automation and analytics use grows
Automation has already arrived in the supply chain, and its use will increase exponentially with the growth of sophisticated data analytics and artificial intelligence. Look to see many of the manual processes in supply chain automated in the next five years. Predictive analytics will be the norm, with operations personnel expecting the same level of intelligence from supply chain systems that they receive across their organization, with much broader capabilities for sharing information.
- Sensor capabilities expand to meet needs
We expect sensor technology to reach a much lower price point while making big gains in lowering power consumption, along with size and weight. Additionally, these improvements will be compatible with current investments in sensors at a much lower price point. This capabilities expansion is good news for the DOD as it helps them leverage technological innovations to meet the specific requirements of today’s fighting forces and maintain military superiority.
- Growth of pharmaceutical fraud leads to greater tamper-proof sensor adoption
The military supply chain needs solutions to combat pharmaceutical fraud. Fraud includes unauthorized access to pharma supplies, as well as theft or substitution of pharmaceuticals to sell on the black market. And with opioids recognized as a national crisis, the search for solutions to reduce fraud and pharma theft and tampering should remain a priority. One answer is to use sensor technology — specifically sensors with anti-tamper functionality that can track pharmaceutical shipments, send alerts when tampering occurs, and help reduce fraud. Implementing this technology across the supply chain will be a priority for federal agencies.
- High-risk assets demand refined risk mitigation tools and protocols
The military is looking at ways data concerning high-risk assets in transit—such as volatile chemicals and dangerous weapons—can be kept secure, trusted and mobile. We expect to see an emphasis on getting sensitive supply chain data into the right hands safely. One route could include DOD moving to a role-based data sharing model to build transparency and risk mitigation into the supply chain.
- More blockchain technology pilots quietly underway
Blockchain technology is being tested and utilized in a growing number of industries, including banking, software development and supply chain management. Whether securing financial transactions or goods and data, blockchain is a powerful solution likely to gain more traction over time. Advances in blockchain technology are of particular interest to the government where trusted, secure data is critical in ensuring chain of custody from the manufacturing point onward and helping to track and move assets around the world.
- Light “weight” will be the new black
Infrastructure-heavy products consume time, money and space. Technologies that can enhance, or even replace current infrastructure will become more attractive to government planners. This is especially important as every agency secretary has a mandate to achieve smaller, more nimble government organizations. We expect to see fewer sensors that depend on fixed government infrastructure and more mobile, communication-capable tags to help bridge to the supply chain of the future.
- Cybersecurity concerns may be ultimate tipping point we need to drive disruption in supply chain management
Cybersecurity breaches demonstrate that more investment and integrated supply chain management solutions will be needed to keep our nation safe and secure. As supply chain digitization proliferates, more and more data will move across platforms and among vendors. So many entry points to protect require not just encryption, but cybersecurity protocols and measures.
Rosemary Johnston, Senior Vice President, Government Sales and Operations, oversees operations, systems support and governance assistance for Savi Technology.