Top 5 Supply Chain Management Topics in 2018

Data and analytics have always been an essential foundation for supply chain management (SCM) professionals, but the process of how data is generated, aggregated and analyzed is very different today than it was even a few years ago. Thanks to IoT, devices are connected and cloud-enabled allowing for automated data entry and analytics. Actionable insights are now readily available enabling SCM professionals to make better decisions at a faster pace. But now that this technology is accessible, where are supply chain experts investing? What critical areas of focus do they see the most opportunity?

The annual SAP-Centric Supply Chain research project took the conference team across North America in a series of focus groups. After meeting with a diverse group of SCM professionals who operate in procurement, inventory and logistics, the following top five themes emerged as the most impactful in 2018. Each topic has two common themes: data and technology.

Inventory Optimization & Inventory Management

Forecasting and predictive analytics are top of mind as SCM professionals constantly look to free up capital while maintaining optimal inventory levels. Inventory managers must find the perfect balance to prevent stock-outs, improve demand response time and asset utilization, reduce inventory and enable faster order cycle times. Without an optimized inventory methodology and solution in place, organizations are at risk of overpaying and underperforming.

MRO & Spare Parts

Asset-intensive industries have always struggled to maintain optimum levels of spare parts in inventory for Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO). Preventive and routine maintenance rely on the proper management of spare parts to complete their work. MRO & Spare Parts management teams must keep inventory carrying costs low while having enough parts on hand for maintenance to get the job done. This challenge is at the forefront for supply chain professionals because of the increase in innovative traceability technologies coupled with the challenge of managing the overflow of data generated.

This infographic from Supply Chain Insights illustrates how utilizing data efficiently can provide your supply chain with a competitive advantage.


We are operating in a mobile-based society with unlimited capabilities at our fingertips and supply chain is no different. Now more than ever, supply chain departments are equipped and inundated with a plethora of mobility tools and solutions. As a result, things like inventory management have been radically transformed from barcoding to RFIDs. To succeed in 2018, SCM professionals are seeking best practices to effectively and efficiently utilize mobility.

Sourcing & Procurement

Sourcing and procurement departments strive to streamline processes across the organization to create better business controls while eliminating redundant data entry efforts. With the disruption of new technologies like Ariba, many companies are struggling to understand which technologies are the best fit for their unique business needs. In 2018, SCM professionals are seeking clarity in this area and are focusing on researching, analyzing and implementing tools to streamline procurement.

Microsoft’s CTO and executives in IT, sourcing and supply chain explain how SAP Ariba Solutions for Direct Spend and the SAP Integrated Business Planning solution enable Microsoft’s One Digital Supply Chain (“1 DSC”) initiative that streamlines the design-to-deliver direct spend processes for Microsoft’s hardware supply chain.

Warehouse Management

Underperformance in warehouse management can negatively impact the entire supply chain. To minimize this impact, asset intensive organizations are interested in learning how solutions like SAP’s Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) can help improve operations. From better visibility and management of inventory to workflows and space utilization, a successful warehouse operation is key to an organization’s supply chain success in 2018.

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