The modern supply chain is a growth function for businesses — when it is working right. As technology has spun forward, so has how supply chains work and the best practices to manage them.

Supply chain and logistics in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) is forecast to reach $8.5 billion during 2020-23, with digital transformation in the sector driven by a range of trends including changing consumer habits and the rise of e-commerce, the encroachment of producers into the logistics space, changing demands from retailers, and the impact of COVID-19 on the overall sector, according to a new white paper by IDC and sponsored by Infor. The white paper outlines some of the key challenges that distributors and logistics providers face and discusses the potential solutions that can help players position themselves for success in a fast-changing landscape that is increasingly defined by data and automation.

An increasing number of regulations is compelling distributors to optimize product shelf life, manage seasonal changes in supply and demand, and guarantee end-to-end traceability of products across the value chain. But the good news is that distributors can address these challenges, while also providing fulfilment and delivering scalable experiences, by leveraging data and automation. Many forward-thinking distributors have already started to digitally transform their operations, elevating data and automation as central pillars. However, with the data sphere expected to exceed 110 zettabytes by 2024, with real-time data growing at 1.5 times the rate of overall data creation according to IDC, it is imperative that organizations are able to extract the right information at the right time

Distributors can look to implement digital supply chain and logistics programs that address four Khaled Al Shami, Director, Solution Consulting, Middle East & Africa, Infor key aspects of distribution businesses: smart warehousing, inventory optimization, and cloud that includes publicly hosted extended planning, smart product man- systems, enterprise data centers, and agreement, transportation optimization. edge locations. However, these programs rely heavily But when selecting technology, it is on the power of technologies such as important for players in the distribution, AI, Big Data analytics (BDA), Distribution business to choose vertical-specific robotics, mobility, and blockchain, and platforms rather than horizontal almost distributors struggle to incorpo- plications. Because vertical applicate these technologies into their existtions are built to address the unique ing IT environments, according to IDC. requirements of an industry.

The distributed nature of business for expensive and time-consuming operations and the need for data-driven customizations diminishes, according experiences make cloud computing one to IDC. of the most important considerations Such applications have inbuilt information distribution players, with a digital industry-specific capabilities that deliver platform in such an environment targeted intelligence, industry context, requiring the speed, agility, scalability, and actionable analytics and guidance and flexibility of cloud to produce the to users. IDC believes that distribution intended results. Many organizations, organizations that use integrated plat therefore, are considering a cloud-first forms and cloud-based, vertical-specific approach for new applications and applications will be the most likely to moving existing applications to cloud. digitally transform themselves in three Enterprise IT infrastructure is increase- to five years and emerge as true digital becoming a connected distributed pioneers.