Blog: 5 Supply Chain Trends for 2024: Real or Hype

As supply chain dynamics evolve in response to our fluctuating global landscape, 2024 will be another year marked by significant transformations and disruptions. The challenges and uncertainties of the last few years have spurred a series of trends shaping the future of supply chain management. 

We recently sat down with GAINS Co-Founder Bill Benton to record an episode of the GAINS On podcast (now available on Spotify), in which he discussed some recent digital supply chain trends and whether or not they were “real or hype.” In other words, we wanted to know if some of the discussions we’ve heard about these “trends” were legitimate or just noise. 

1. Adopting a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) mindset

Recognizing that change and uncertainty are constants in today’s environment, companies are focusing on becoming more proactive, agile, and robust. Embracing this new mindset enables businesses to navigate the complexities of modern supply chains more effectively, turning challenges into opportunities for growth and innovation. This could mean diversifying supply sources, investing in agile manufacturing techniques, or developing adaptable business strategies that can pivot in response to new conditions.

A VUCA mindset involves embracing several vital strategies:

Embracing Flexibility and Agility

Rigid structures and processes can be a liability in a VUCA world. Companies should begin building flexibility into their operations to adapt quickly. Supply Chain Planning and Design solutions like GAINS help forecast demand more accurately, track inventory in real-time, make more informed decisions, anticipate issues, and respond to rapid change. 

Proactive Risk Management

Instead of continually reacting to challenges as they arise, in 2024, supply chain leaders will regularly assess potential risks, everything from geopolitical shifts to market volatility, and develop contingency playbooks to address them before they become crises.

Scenario Planning and Simulation

Many GAINS customers use scenario planning to envision future states and develop viable strategies for different conditions. Simulations and predictive modeling help to anticipate the effects of other decisions, allowing companies to explore various outcomes and prepare for multiple scenarios.

Enhancing Decision-Making with Analytics

In a VUCA world, decision-making becomes more challenging due to the influx of complex and sometimes conflicting information. Leveraging GAINS advanced analytics to process and interpret large volumes of data enables better decision-making based on insights rather than intuition or past experiences.

By embracing a VUCA mindset (and GAINS), companies are not just preparing to survive in an environment of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity; they are positioning themselves to thrive, turning potential challenges into opportunities for growth, innovation, and competitive advantage.

Our Vote: Real.

Given the ongoing disruption, this trend is not hype and is here to stay.

2. Rise of the Internet of Things (IoT)

The deployment of IoT technology in supply chains is expanding rapidly, offering unprecedented visibility. In 2024, the utilization of IoT devices is expected to surge, collecting vast amounts of data. This data can be used to optimize logistics, track assets, predict maintenance requirements, and offer deeper insights.

The significance of using IoT in Supply Chain Management (SCM) is substantial, bringing about a more intelligent, more efficient SCM process with distinct features:

  1. Intelligent: Integrating business intelligence and smart analytics in SCM allows for optimized decision-making. This intelligence applies to various aspects of SCM, including demand forecasting and inventory management.
  2. Automation:  Reducing the need for labor-intensive work and enhancing overall efficiency. 
  3. Integrated:  Collaboration among stakeholders for joint decision-making and information sharing.
  4. Innovative: Innovations can include advanced tracking systems, smart inventory management, and predictive maintenance for machinery.

GAINS seamlessly incorporates a wide range of data sources, including IoT data, to optimize supply chain management processes. This integration is a leap forward in enhancing operational efficiency across the business.

Our Vote: Real.

IoT is key to operational effectiveness and provides a new data source to drive better decisions.

3. “Just-in-Time” to “Just-in-Case” 

Shifting from a Just-in-time (JIT) supply chain strategy to a Just-in-Case (JIC) is a sound response to recent supply chain upheavals. Ongoing geopolitical tensions are driving businesses to transition from the JIT model to a JIC approach. The idea is that, especially in times of crisis, it is better to have additional inventory on hand to buffer against disruptions, ensuring stability and operational continuity.

The just-in-case approach in Supply Chain Planning might be the better bet for several reasons, especially given the global landscape and the lessons learned from recent years:

Ongoing Global Supply Chain Disruptions

In the aftermath of COVID-19, geopolitical tensions and other unpredictable global events have created a volatile environment, leading to continued disruptions. 

Increased Logistics Costs and Delays

Weather, military conflict, and other factors affecting key trade routes (like the Red Sea), labor shortages, and logistical bottlenecks have led to ever-increasing shipping times and costs of deliveries.

Sustainability and Seasonality

As environmental concerns grow, there has been a shift towards local sourcing and reduced reliance on long, complex supply chains. JIC enables companies to stock up on seasonal or locally produced items in advance, aligning with sustainability goals and consumer preferences for local products.

Just-In-Case is an attractive strategy for businesses seeking to mitigate risks and ensure a steady supply of goods in the face of ongoing challenges.

Our Vote: Real.

A JIC approach requires insights into lead times, supply disruptions, and demand to avoid excess inventory, but it is here to stay.

4. Integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In 2024, AI will continue to play a pivotal role in areas like demand forecasting, inventory optimization, and supply chain risk management. GAINS leverages AI for advanced analysis, reporting, decision-making, and modeling for complex supply chain scenarios. Including:

Demand Forecasting

AI algorithms analyze vast amounts of data from various sources, including historical sales data, market trends, consumer behavior, and external factors like weather patterns or economic indicators.

Inventory Optimization

The key to balance is maintaining optimal inventory levels. AI can predict the optimal amount of stock needed by analyzing past sales patterns, seasonal fluctuations, and current market trends. Minimizing the costs associated with overstocking or understocking ensures that inventory is aligned with actual market demand.

Supply Chain Risk Management, geopolitical situations, and natural disasters. 

AI can identify potential supply chain risks by analyzing factors such as supplier reliability. Companies can proactively devise strategies to mitigate these risks.

Enhanced Decision-Making

AI’s ability to process and analyze large sets of complex data enables more informed decision-making. Companies can use AI to simulate various supply chain scenarios and predict the outcomes of different decisions. This is particularly useful in complex supply chain scenarios where human analysis might be limited.

Real-Time Analytics and Reporting

Data can be processed in real time, providing up-to-the-minute insights. This is crucial for rapidly responding to changing market conditions. Companies like GAINS are at the forefront of this trend, utilizing AI for detailed analysis and reporting that guide strategic decisions.

Automated Procurement and Order Management

AI can automate routine procurement tasks and order processing, reducing manual efforts and errors. It can analyze purchasing patterns, track inventory levels, and automatically reorder products when necessary. 

As we move into 2024, integrating AI in Supply Chain Management represents a significant leap toward smarter, more agile, responsive, and efficient supply chain. Companies adopting AI technologies, like GAINS, are setting new benchmarks in optimizing supply chain operations, reducing costs, and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Our Vote: Real and Hype.

Everyone claims to do AI and even Generative AI, and caution is needed as a buzzword. Our advice is to address the business challenge, be pragmatic, and work with those who know your industry first and foremost. There is significant value in AI, and GAINS has been using AI for years to provide our customers with the best performance.

5. Movement Towards Composable Solutions Over Monolithic Systems

There is a growing trend toward adopting flexible, composable software solutions rather than traditional, monolithic ERPs or systems. This shift is driven by the need for agility and speed in managing complex supply chains. Today’s service-oriented architectures enable solutions to adapt to existing environments (no rip-and-replace needed) and bring new, focused capabilities to businesses that drive value.  

Composable solutions offer modular functionalities that can be easily integrated, allowing businesses to adapt quickly to changing supply chain requirements.

Some benefits include:

Modular Functionality

Businesses can select and integrate specific functionalities they need rather than implementing an extensive, unwieldy system. Each module, whether for inventory management, procurement, logistics, or customer experience, can be chosen based on the business’s unique requirements and can operate seamlessly together.

Rapid Adaptability

Composable solutions allow businesses to adapt rapidly by adding, removing, or updating modules without overhauling the entire system. This flexibility is vital in staying competitive and responsive in a fast-changing environment.

Scalability and Customization

Enabling scalability and customization, composable solutions allow businesses to scale up or down and tailor the system to their evolving needs without significant disruptions or costly upgrades.

Focused Innovation

Companies can choose best-in-class solutions for different modules instead of relying on a single vendor for all ERP functionalities. This encourages innovation as specialized providers compete within their niche, offering advanced features and capabilities.


Traditional ERPs often involve substantial upfront investments and long implementation times. Composable solutions, on the other hand, allow for a more gradual investment, where businesses only pay for the modules they use, leading to better cost control and ROI.

Improved User Experience

Monolithic ERPs can be cumbersome and complex for users. Composable solutions often provide more user-friendly interfaces and experiences, as each module is designed to be intuitive and efficient in its specific domain.

Risk Management and Resilience

Companies reduce risk exposure by not relying on a single, large-scale ERP system. If one module encounters issues, it can be addressed or replaced without impacting the entire system, enhancing overall business resilience and reducing the need for specialized IT resources.

Faster Deployment and Updates

Since composable solutions are modular, they can be deployed and updated more quickly than traditional ERPs. This means businesses can benefit from the latest functionalities and improvements without waiting for lengthy upgrade cycles.

Data Management and Analytics

Composable solutions often come with advanced data management and analytics capabilities, enabling businesses to gain insights and make data-driven decisions more effectively.

In the rapidly evolving world of supply chain management, the agility, customization, and scalability offered by these solutions make them increasingly preferable to traditional, one-size-fits-all systems.

Our Vote: Real.

GAINS is bringing GAINS composable services to its customers, delivering more value with every decision. 

In Summary

In 2024, it is evident that the supply chain management landscape is evolving rapidly and profoundly. 

From embracing a VUCA mindset to the revolutionary integration of AI and IoT, from the strategic shift to Just-in-Case planning to the flexibility offered by composable solutions – these trends underscore a proactive response to an ever-changing global scenario. 

The insights from Bill Benton and the initiatives at GAINS underscore that staying ahead in supply chain management isn’t just about adopting new technologies or strategies; it’s about a paradigm shift in how we perceive and manage the intricate web of supply chain operations. As businesses navigate these turbulent waters, the trends highlighted here offer a beacon for transformation, resilience, and sustained growth in the face of unprecedented challenges and opportunities.

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