Trends and opportunities in logistics and supply chain management

Core findings

  1. Cost pressure, individualization, and complexity remain top trends, even in the age of digitalization.
  2. Compared to 2012, the importance of sustainability has markedly increased.
  3. Digitalization of business processes and transparency in the supply chain are the most important trends, and ones that companies will need to develop considerably in the future.
  4. The overwhelming majority of companies still have substantial potential for improvement in terms of their individual capacity to adapt to existing trends. Here, the answers to our survey indicate a very wide spectrum.
  5. The most urgent action required relates to the growing staff shortage and upcoming applications of business analytics: More than 60% of the companies we surveyed have, to date, not been able to adjust sufficiently to this.

The trends at glance

The analysis of the research literature and the interviews conducted with experts revealed 15 central trends in logistics and supply chain management. These can be distinguished as external developments (exogenous trends), or as developments that are driven by the company itself (possibly with other companies) (endogenous trends).
Relevance of the trends for the companies very low moderate very high high Relevance 2016Endogenous Relevance 2016Exogenous Relevance 2012 Proportion of companies with insufficient adaptability(very low to moderate) Cost pressure| 46 % Individualization | 37 % Complexity | 39 % Demand fluctuations | 50 % Staff shortages | 64 % Sustainability | 50 % Government regulations/Compliance | 49 % Risks/Interruptions | 37 % Changed consumer behavior | 57 % Digitalization of business processes | 52 % Transparency in the supply chain | 55 % Networking/Collaboration | 55 % Business analytics | 62 % Automation | 51 % Decentralization | 55 %

Digital transformation opportunities

Impact on costs and revenue

Digital technologies can reduce costs by, for example, intelligent forecasts or operational support for the employee, thus also increasing productivity. Implementing these technologies can also improve customer relationships and open new business areas. The majority of companies in the manufacturing sector (79.9%), logistics services (85.5%), and retail (74.5%) recognize these and similar positive effects of a digital transformation.

Driving forces of digitalization