Regular readers will note that I’ve been lamenting the relative lack of new innovation in the space for the last few years. Most of the big announcements, and innovations, have centered around technologies that were in (initial) development in the first half of the noughts, and usability and applicability (to specific verticals) in particular. And most of the hype has centered around Big Data, which isn’t new, Cloud, which is just your provider giving you hands-off ASP, and “spend optimization” which is typically defined as real-time visibility into spend and budgets. All good, but where’s the ground-breaking new technology?
In fact, in the last few months, the only ground-breaking new R&D has centered on allowing players outside of Supply Management, namely Marketing, to manage the value chain. (Ugh. Supply Management is supposed to manage the value chain!) There’s a few companies that have come to my attention as of late that are working on some innovative new offerings that could reshape markets Supply Management should own. (And when they release their products/services, SI will cover them.)
But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. From a business perspective, I don’t see much new in the way of trends coming this year. And I’m not alone. ChainLink Research recently published their Big Trends for Business 2013, and it looks like we’re in for 2012 all over again.
Maybe the Mayans were right, the world came to a halt, and now we’re moving backwards. Seriously. Consider these global trends:
- Slowing in the Globalization of Trade
This started 2 years ago, and will continue throughout the decade. There are a few reasons for this, including the emergence of what were once “low-cost countries”; the continued rise in the cost of oil and, as a result, transportation; and the move towards protectionist policies in a few major first world players, and the U.S. in particular with its “Buy American” movement.
- China Off-Shoring
As emerging economies become emerged economies, they pick up our (bad) habits and find even poorer countries to outsource to.
- US Insourcing
As a direct result of the slowing of the globalization of trade, Buy American policies, economic stimulus policies, consumer backlash against foreign products, and rising costs of outsourcing for mid-sized businesses.
- Small Office Home Office
For some, it’s the new American Dream to be your own boss, for others they have no choice as they can’t secure (the) full time work (they want), and for others still it is forced upon them by their employer that doesn’t want the overhead of a large office.
- Local vs. Global
The 60’s saw the hippies protesting the war and lack of equal rights, the 80’s (dubbed the “me” generation) saw the yuppies concerned with the lack of personal wealth and ways to achieve the American dream before retirement age, and now that we’ve seen the result is unrelenting greed, which has delivered nothing but one economic disaster after another, we’re coming full circle and focussing on the greater good again. However, we learned from the previous generation (or the modern media which has chronicled the hippie movement in various formats) that “peace and love” isn’t enough, that we’re not taking down the governments and the corporations, and that we have to work within the system to help our neighbour. And the answer we have come up with is “Buy Local”.
And as a result of these global trends, we will see a number of secondary trends focussed on by Supply Management and/or Manufacturing organizations this year. These will be discussed in Part II.