Supply Chain Expertise and Technology Blog by TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson

Eyes on Innovation: 3 Supply Chain Innovation Themes to Watch

Supply Chain Innovation

Editor’s Note: In January, Glenn contributed a blog post for Transportfolio. We’re sharing his original post here because supply chain innovation is a relevant topic.

Innovation is all about thinking creatively and developing new solutions to universal challenges. It’s what propels us to ideate in stronger, more inspired ways, improve products, and streamline procedures. And, it’s what drives the future of supply chains. Innovations in technology and processes can impact your supply chain in many ways, like gaining visibility into your in-transit network or the reducing supply chain spend. That’s why it’s so important—and interesting—to stay on top of supply chain innovation.

I was recently at a supply chain summit with an innovation focus, where we dove into a number of topics that opened my eyes to the many ways new ideas are transforming every part of business, from company culture, to large-scale technologies, to new products and services.

Innovation should live in your company’s genetic code. We live in an age where seemingly anything is possible, and that makes ideas valuable. Great ideas, products, and services come from bright minds—but those minds need the right environment to shine. A culture of innovation is important because it provides a forum for creativity and collaboration, and it fosters the mindset to try new things. The global marketplace is dynamic, and it takes innovation to create, expand, improve, and adapt the solutions and services that can keep up.

A “fail fast, succeed faster” mentality is important in innovation. While we should never set out to fail, we shouldn’t let the fear of failure deter us from trying new things. After all, innovation rarely arises from safe, sterile ideas; some of the best ideas—in the supply chain industry and beyond—are the result of a pivot from some kind of failure. This mantra is all about looking at failure as a way to move good ideas forward—by acknowledging that an idea didn’t pan out as anticipated, embracing feedback, and making adjustments—to create the best possible product or service. As long as you’re being proactive about eliminating ideas that fall flat and improving ideas that do work, quickly, keep trying new and different things. In addition, timing is everything. Don’t be afraid to look at previous attempts that didn’t work out, as the market may be ready for an idea you had five or more years ago.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has changed supply chains, and will continue to transform the logistics industry. The IoT refers to the network of machine-to-machine communication that collects and exchanges data through electronics, software, and sensors. With connectivity that’s mobile, virtual, and instantaneous, the IoT makes nearly any object a “smart” object. It’s staggering to think about the ways this connectedness could increase efficiency, lower costs, and improve safety in supply chains. What’s more, the evolution of the IoT will only continue to impact how third party logistics providers (3PLs), businesses, and consumers strategize and execute logistics as new technologies come into play, and as we learn how to better leverage the data the IoT provides.

Without a doubt, evolution of technology and information will continue to play a significant role in our daily lives and transform supply chains. What is your company doing to embrace innovative thinking now and as we look ahead?