What to watch for at Modex 2018
Billed as the biggest industry events of the year, Modex is living proof that the world is one great, big supply chain. With an agenda heavily focused on manufacturing, warehousing, and supply chain management, Modex is sure to bring a wide range of perspective on some of the biggest challenges businesses face today, and advice on how to plan for the future. And with more than 100 sessions – and more than 25,000 attendees – it’s hard to catch everything in just three days.
Luckily, we’re here to help you separate the signal from the noise with a handy list of what to watch for at supply chain’s biggest show. Here are five likely scenarios:
Freedom of choice
It’s about the solution, not the product. Of course, we still make product buying decisions. But the reality is companies need to focus on long term solutions and figure out where individual products fit within that solution. For instance, how do products like a warehouse management system fit into a greater supply chain solution? Does the software scale to meet unpredictable or growing demand? Can it tie into a global ecommerce strategy focused on omnichannel fulfillment over traditional brick-and-mortar stores? Is this the year we stop customizing legacy software and adapt to life in the cloud? And if so, do these new systems fit into our overall digital strategy? It will be interesting to see at Modex if the discussion is focused on solutions and their products, or simply products for the sake of products.
The network powers innovation
The supply chain is not a straight line. For just about any large enterprise, the supply chain looks more like a distributed network of many suppliers, trading partners, banks, and stakeholders, scattered across the globe. As a result, much of the vital information needed to effectively run the supply chain lives outside the four walls of the enterprise – we estimate it’s as much as 80 percent. Businesses are still trying to make better sense of this highly distributed point of view. After all, we’re only as good as our ability to use our network. So, what does the future bring? As companies seek to become more connected, having a tighter integration within their distributed supply chains becomes table stakes. This connectivity and network approach is vital for both incremental and transformative changes. We will be curious to see what the talk is around the Modex floor about the importance of the network and at what various stages companies are on this journey.
Digital transformation remains a work in progress
It turns you can’t simply flip a switch and claim digital transformation. One pervasive theme everywhere this year, from NRF in January to the recent SITL supply chain conference in Paris was that the digital journey remains a work in progress. Companies and their supply chains are still trying to determine the right set of technologies and outcomes to pursue in their journey toward transformation, and, importantly, what are the steps that they should take along the way. The truth is there is no single path to digital transformation – no two companies are alike, and neither are their supply chains. We expect to see a number of presentations about what digital transformation looks like at the ground level – in factories and warehouses – at Modex. But it’s worth noting that true transformation doesn’t happen without greater connectivity and communication across the global supply chain.
Tying the first mile to the last mile
There’s been a lot of focus recently on the last mile. Particularly as end consumers continue to evolve their shopping habits and rely on more deliveries than store visits to get the products they want most. And not only that, customers want their products fast and free of shipping charges. It makes the last mile a costly and complex problem to solve. It’s worth remembering that successful last-mile fulfillment begins at the very first mile of supply chain. And companies need to start focusing on the other ingredients that add up to last mile success – from manufacturing and logistics, to warehouses and order management. In order to meet customer expectations and do it without costing the business an arm and a leg, companies will increasingly look to optimize everything upstream. We’ll share our own point of view on how to do this during our presentation, ‘Last Mile Fulfillment’s Impact Upstream,’ Tuesday, April 10 at noon.
Will we see much on blockchain? What about IoT? What’s new in warehouse and transportation solutions? There has been a rebirth in some of these spaces, WMS has gone through a rebirth after being ignored for a while. What are the new WMS solutions looking like to address the modern fulfillment issues? What about blockchain and IoT? Are these areas continuing to gain momentum? And what are the use cases the market is seeing for such technology as blockchain?
We’re living in the age of digital transformation, and we expect this year’s Modex to be a reflection of that fact. Megatrends such as the consumerization of business, regardless of whether it’s B2B or B2C, continues its steady march. Supply chain agility, optimization, and orchestration depends in large part on how digital you can become. Let’s see how prominent these themes and more importantly the learnings are at Modex. We look forward to seeing you in Atlanta!