Biggest supply chain challenges worldwide 2017-2018

A 2018 survey found that the biggest challenge for global supply chain executives was visibility, with 21.8 percent of respondents selecting this response. Fluctuating customer demand was second, with 19.7 percent, while data management was lowest with 1.3 percent.


The nature of the challenges generated by visibility differs depending on whether a company is a producer or a supplier of goods. Producers were most concerned with having oversight on how materials were provisioned to their production facilities, while suppliers were concerned with visibility over the quality and availability of the products they intend to sell. Both producers and suppliers though were concerned with being able to trace the flow of materials and/or goods through their supply chain process.

Supply chain management

Given the concerns producers and suppliers have over visibility, supply chain management (SCM) software has been a growing industry over the last decade. One sub-segment of this industry expected to see very strong growth is supply chain analytics, whereby the data captured in a SCM system is used in more sophisticated ways (for example, to identifying the main causes and predict the risk of supply chain disruptions). A 2016 survey found that advanced analytics was the technology manufacturing executives expected to impact their supply chain the most, while some analysts expect the size of the supply chain analytic market to almost double between 2018 and 2023.
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Inventory management14.5%13.2%
Available talent14.5%9.2%
Coordinating operations across multiple sales channels14.5%11.8%
Fluctuating consumer demand13.3%19.7%
Risk allocation*7.2%-
Keeping pace with technology7.2%6.6%
Data management3.6%1.3%
Data governance*3.6%-
Ensuring an ethical supply chain2.4%5.3%
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Dr. Horst Stipp
EVP, Research & Innovation, Advertising Research Foundation

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