A glimpse at the future of supply chain: Observations from Manifest 2024

Amir Taichman
Founder & CEO
February 14, 2024

Last week, the Unity team participated in Manifest 2024—a trade show that brings together companies innovating and transforming end-to-end supply chain and logistics. I had the opportunity to walk the floor, meet up with customers at our booth, and compare notes on how the future of supply chain is shaping up. Here are some of those observations. 

Everything is going digital

We’ve said for years that supply chain management will be undergoing a seismic shift, with digital transformation at the heart of this change. And it’s happening.

Digital point solutions are at the forefront of tackling specific problems within the supply chain. A prime example is the introduction of robotics and intelligent trucking solutions. There were dozens of these companies there. 

The proliferation of robotics has brought about a new era in warehouse management and logistics, enabling tasks to be performed more efficiently and with fewer errors. Similarly, intelligent trucking solutions have optimized routing and delivery times, significantly improving the reliability of over-the-road transportation.

Many startups and interested investors

As you might expect, the supply chain sector is rife with new startups, and luckily, there is significant investor interest. This environment also creates a fertile ground for partnerships, particularly for platforms like ours. 

We’re excited to explore new datasets to pull onto our platform, such as weather data, warehousing rates, etc. These partnerships expand Unity's capabilities and offer a glimpse into the future of supply chain management, where data-driven decision-making becomes the norm.

The challenge of fragmentation

For all its modernization and advantages, the supply chain industry is a significant challenge as it digitally transforms: fragmentation. With countless TMS (Transportation Management System) providers and logistics companies vying for attention, how can customers research and choose the best solution? 

We advise buyers to think beyond their immediate problems and analyze how a new solution will connect to and complement their existing tools. This type of planning becomes the basis for the next set of issues they want to solve. 

Visibility is the goal, but what’s the actual value?

Visibility is still a strong trend and buzzword, but the reality is that many companies struggle to translate this concept into tangible value. The ability to track and monitor every aspect of the supply chain in real time is invaluable, but how can operators leverage this visibility to drive quantifiable business outcomes? Setting clear KPIs and benchmarks is the first step.

Supply chain operators have always had goals: for example, on-time delivery, reducing shipping costs, or better customer visibility of orders. However, they haven’t always had accurate, timely information about critical pieces of their operation that could be vastly improved to help beat and exceed their goals. 

Now, with greater data visibility, operators can pinpoint areas of improvement and set KPIs (key performance indicators) that help them improve in many places, establishing new benchmarks for performance that they never had before. 

Data quality > quantity

Data quality is a big deal. In the rush to adopt new technologies, businesses must maintain sight of the importance of data integrity. Everyone knows that it's essential to have quality data, but more is just masses of data.

Before onboarding data from new solutions, ask: 

  • How is data quality tracked
  • How is data managed?
  • How will the data be used?
  • Where is the data coming from? 

The last thing you want is one more solution to deliver data that users don't trust. 

Moving forward

As the supply chain continues its digital journey, the opportunities for innovation and improvement are boundless. However, success in this new landscape requires a thoughtful approach to technology adoption, focusing on integration, visibility, and data quality. It is not just about adopting new technology; it's about revolutionizing how we think about and manage the flow of goods around the globe.

Interested in learning more about Unity? Book a demo with us.