supply chain aiSupply chain transactions, mostly in the form of EDI transactions, generate huge amounts of data. But the advent of IoT devices, RFID tags, and retail sales transactions are making what seemed to be unimaginable volumes of data unmanageable and as useless as when the records were simply deleted after they had served their purpose. Analytics was supposed to be the answer but even that has turned out to be insufficient. Artificial intelligence is stepping in to extend analytics and add action to its insights.

qrcodeBar codes have been with us for a while now and their application makes tracking products and processing sales simple. For grocers it has meant the demise of the label gun and the need to update price stickers every time costs changed. But the traditional bar-type label has been supplanted by the higher density QR code that can store much more information in smaller spaces and now a new innovation lets suppliers put code directly on edible products.

technologiesTechnology can be a tremendous help in getting our products to market and there are plenty of technologies finding their way into both the supply chain and the products traveling along the paths to market. The initiatives and purposes these technologies address are all initially aimed at solving problems but like all well-intended technologies some are bound to be subverted and cause unintended consequences. Here are a few current technologies that should be watched with an eye toward caution.

amazon wristManaging orders in a fast moving environment can lead to some unusual (and sometimes strange) conditions. And when conditions are extremely time sensitive even the position of a worker’s hands can make the difference between delivering the order and missing. And that’s the issue Amazon seems to be tackling with its latest patent.

blockchain08According to recent financial technology (FinTech) industry data, “billions of dollars have been poured into blockchain companies” as of September 2017, with initial coin offerings or token sales climbing to roughly $2 billion compared to just $256 million in 2016. Private investments into blockchain companies exceeded $4.5 billion from Q1 through Q3 of 2017—including the $3.6 billion acquisition of Canadian FinTech firm DH Corporation by Austin-based Vista Equity Partners and more than 150 additional blockchain transactions totaling $965 million—versus the $624 million raised over the same period last year.(1)