As a new year heralds, and as is expected, we start 2018 with personal and professional resolutions compounded by future predictions from the many advisory and tech companies out there. Ranging from the probable to the improbable, succeed or fail, these resolutions and predictions are made time and time again by people of all ages and cultures. There is no universal agreement as to why, except that it’s tradition.

So it's interesting to see that Supply Chain Operations has hit the headlines, not for the first time, but none the less surprising Gartner has chosen to make the following predictions;

  • Autonomous mobile robots

By 2021, one in 10 warehouse workers in established economies will be replaced by autonomous mobile robots (AMRs).

  • Stalled artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives

By 2021, three out of five factory-level AI initiatives in large global companies will stall due to inadequate skill sets.

  • Proof-of-concept blockchain initiatives

Through 2020, 90% of supply chain blockchain initiatives will be proof-of-concept initiatives.

  • Virtual customer assistants

By 2021, 20% of all customer service interactions will be handled by virtual customer assistants and chatbots.

While I, on a daily basis, encourage businesses to adopt and invest in emerging technologies to gain a competitive edge, I question the basis of Gartner's predictions and is there really the demand for these solutions....yet?

By way of example, at Hitachi, through our experience and industrial heritage, we're helping drive our customer's digital transformation by leveraging more than 105 years of operation technology and 55 years of information technology. 

Changing market dynamics require manufacturers to constantly improve operational efficiency and product quality while meeting new demands for customisation. Hitachi Optimised Factory enables timely decision making through ongoing communications and monitoring of machines, people, materials and manufacturing processes. The solution aggregates OT, IT and IoT data and uses predictive analytics and machine-learning to provide actionable insights that can drive continuous improvement and leaner operations. 

I am seeing interest in some of the areas outlined by Gartner but very limited uptake currently. We must remember that while the technology may be maturing, or even mature, businesses need to consider the wider impact of adoption within their own organisational structure and 3rd parties before heavily committing to any new transformational activity.

For more information on Hitachi, and our Optimized Factory solution please click here.