By Pragati Verma, Contributing Editor, Straight Talk

Global supply chains are under a stress from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the resulting disruptions and unanticipated fluctuations in demand.  And  38% of supply chain leaders are concerned that their supply chains are not well-positioned to handle the challenges of the next two years, according to Gartner. Here are eight technology themes that Gartner recommends to supply chain leaders:


Hyperautomation, as the name suggests, is the concept of combining a variety of automation tools, such as machine learning, robotic process automation and other technologies to free humans from repetitive and low-value tasks. In its report, The 2021 Supply Chain Technology Themes, Gartner predicts that people and businesses will need to delegate more decision making to intelligent applications, physical robots and software service assistant. The research firm believes that hyperautomation is expected to help automate transactional processes, such as order to cash and complex decision making, eventually augmenting human capabilities and supporting the creation of an autonomous supply chain.

Digital Supply Chain Twin

As companies strive for digital supply chain planning, Gartner expects digital supply chain twins or virtual supply chain replicas to take off. By mirroring the supply chain’s assets, transactions, and its operating environment to enable organizations to monitor in real time and and apply predictive and prescriptive analytics to create, judge and approve different plans, scenarios, and orders.

Immersive Experience and Applications

Immersive experiences — that pulls a person into a virtual or augmented reality in such a way that they feel they are inside it or a part of it — have the potential to influence the trajectory of supply chain management, according to Gartner. In a press release, Christian Titze, vice president analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice said, “It presents new interaction models through the product life cycle, not only with humans, but with other processes, machines and applications. Pioneer companies already benefit from outcomes, such as safer working environments, faster repair times, improved work error rate, better collaboration and retention of skills and knowledge.”

Edge Ecosystems

Supply chain technology leaders will reassign and replan data processing capability to the edges of enterprises, where things and people produce or make decsions far away from cloud and on-premise servers, say Gartner analysts. For example, edge technologies can be used to track and monitor conditions such as temperature or moisture content, across multiple phases of a product’s life cycle.

Supply Chain Security

Gartner analysts recommend a more comprehensive approach to embrace security risks such as counterfeits or cybercrime holistically across the supply chain. They expect a new generation of scalable supply chain security technology solutions to evolve.

Environmental, social and governance

Global supply chains have a pivotal role to play in their contribution to both map and assess ESG risks and opportunities, Gartner researchers believe. They expect current and new technologies to enable the tracking of the origins of products, such as palm oil or soy and align with corporate biodiversity and climate change goals.

Embedded AI and analytics

Embedded AI and analytics will enable supply chain functional domains to deliver real-time reporting, interactive data visualization and advanced analytics and intelligence directly into an enterprise business application, says Gartner. For instance, mobile robot controls or intelligent robotic picking systems can leverage embedded analytics to optimize operations and improve productivity in warehouses.

Augmented data intelligence

Gartner expects augmented data intelligence to collect, correlate and analyze several data pipelines and provide supply chain leaders with the information, predictions, and suggestions they need.

Pragati Verma is a writer and editor exploring new and emerging technologies. She has been a business journalist and managed technology sections at India’s The Economic Times and The Financial Express.