Supply Chain 4.0: 6 Ways Digital Transformation is Transforming the Supply Chain

Supply Chain 4.0: 6 Ways Digital Transformation is Transforming the Supply Chain


Digital transformation is shaping the latest supply chain management trends. Digital solutions improve access to supplier and consumer data, empowering organizations to make more informed decisions. 

Many factors drive digital transformation, from advanced data analytics to artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. Digital tools and software can boost efficiency and agility, all while reducing operational costs. In turn, supply chain organizations can become more resilient and agile when facing disruptions.

The pandemic's disruptive impact on global supply chains heightened the need for organizations to focus on risk mitigation and resiliency. By investing in digital technologies and boosting real-time visibility into every supply chain stage, companies can identify and respond to risks.

Here are six ways digital transformation is transforming the traditional supply chain.

1. Enhanced Connectivity

Various digital tools improve connectivity and visibility across the supply chain. Recent supply chain advancements provide real-time updates on product movement and location. These tools use GPS and Bluetooth technologies for instant geographical updates. Other sensors can detect disruptions or quality issues, letting businesses address them before they grow more significant. 

Supply chain organizations can use these data points to evaluate transportation performance and distribution inefficiencies. Improved traceability allows for more flexibility — managers can identify issues more quickly and take necessary steps to limit their impacts. Enhanced connectivity also improves business communication with suppliers, strengthening all supply chain organizations.

Supply chain organizations can use these data points to evaluate transportation performance and distribution inefficiencies.

2. More Focus on Customer Demands

Technology advancements allow for massive amounts of data and related insights. Previous forecasting strategies used past buying trends and historical data. However, past data might not reflect current demands, limiting organizations' ability to respond to sudden changes. 

Digital options help businesses anticipate and respond to customer demands. For example, tools with implanted sensors can collect and report data from surrounding locations. Another example is intelligent data analysis, which uses advanced forecasting to recommend replenishment strategies. These predictive technologies combine historical data and current market conditions to generate more reliable recommendations.

3. Digital Thread Creation

The digital thread is a communication structure that shares information from all data users in the supply chain. It connects systems and data, integrating all workflows and users. Enhanced data flows help supply chains become more responsive. Sudden changes in manufacturing, distribution or other product areas require agile responses. The more data you have, the more prepared you are to resolve these issues.

This digital thread between your business, your suppliers and your consumers empowers your organization to become an integrated supply chain. The enhanced integration often lets organizations collaborate more closely, potentially increasing efficiency and improving relationships. 

4. Improved Collaboration

The integrated supply chain creates new levels of visibility and data sharing. Constant, omnidirectional communication gives insight into inventory conditions, product availability, shipping statuses and more. Supply chain organizations can take future-focused approaches that predict demand changes before they occur. 

With end-to-end views, you can access data across all business systems. Company-wide data synthesis allows for deeper analysis than a single department. As you improve productivity and forecasting, your suppliers and consumers reap the benefits, too.

6 ways digital transformation is transforming the supply chain infographic

5. Enhanced Ability to Meet Customer Needs

Many companies reevaluate their sales and distribution techniques as customers change their buying behaviors. Modern consumers want rapid and accurate orders, placing extreme demands on supply chains. Supply chain departments like logistics and order fulfillment are expected to work at top speeds to meet these demands and improve retention.

In response, many organizations are shifting to leaner warehousing methods and increased eCommerce presence. Some business-to-business (B2B) organizations may decide to shift to selling direct-to-consumer (DTC) and leverage retailers’ strategies for improving their digital customer service capabilities. 

This strategy includes creating digital order forms and online storefronts, allowing for remote communication with customers. By leveraging virtual or augmented reality tools, businesses can even offer simulations of facility tours and showcase new products or service offerings.

6. Reduced Cyber Risks

Digital transformation creates more opportunities for innovation and collaboration. However, increased reliance on online tools provides more opportunities for modern cyberattacks. Malicious attackers target vulnerabilities in third-party applications, which can provide access to company systems. The more technology you have, the more security gaps can occur.

Cybercriminals might also exploit suppliers or consumers. These attacks can cause reputational damage, lost customers and reduced profits. As organizations develop their supplier relationships, cybersecurity should be an essential point of discussion. 

Examples of Digital Transformation in the Supply Chain

Many global companies adopted digital tools and strategies to remain competitive and proactive. Here are notable examples of digital transformation in the supply chain:

1. Unified Platforms

Digital transformations often begin with unified technology that connects disparate applications and upgrades outdated systems. These end-to-end platforms boost visibility across every supply chain stage, from inventory management to final distribution. By linking systems, you reduce bottlenecks and improve efficiency during various tasks.

You can implement a wide range of digital workplace solutions that update operational supply chain processes. The platforms let you address specific areas of improvement. For instance, you might want to improve productivity in your supply chain department. You could invest in productivity-based tools that offer cloud-based file sharing, mobility options or automation tools that encourage efficiency.

Or, managers might need to enhance inventory management. Digital options like vendor managed inventory (VMI) provide crucial insight into product movements and supplier communications. They also use forecasting tools to anticipate customer demands and adapt stocking approaches as necessary.

2. Automation and Artificial Intelligence

Automation has a significant role in digital transformation. Automated technologies can complete repetitive or manual tasks with little to no human input, letting workers prioritize higher-priority tasks. The tools eliminate the possibility of human error, which can improve accuracy when working with data.

Artificial intelligence and other automated tools can assist with every area of supply chain management, from forecasting buying trends to tracing product movements. You can automate data collection and invoice processing, ensuring your supply chain uses the correct numbers in purchases.


Artificial intelligence provides in-depth data collection and analysis without human intervention, empowering businesses to make more intelligent decisions. Tools like natural language processing enable AI to communicate with customers and interpret questions or data.

3. Data Analytics

Data analytics is an essential factor in digital transformation in supply chain management for evaluating current and future trends. Information about customer demands and supply chain delays is vital for building resilience and agility. Digital transformations focus on data collection and interpretation to improve business operations. The more data you have, the quicker you can respond to disruptions.

Advanced tools and software let you access real-time data. Supply chain managers can view possible or ongoing disruptions, supplier activities, shipping updates and more. 

After you collect data, your organization can evaluate it to strengthen operations. Data dashboards and other visualization tools present the information in an accessible manner, helping workers make the most informed decision possible. The improved visibility alerts you to bottlenecks. You can use automation and other tools to address inefficiencies and keep your organization running smoothly.

Contact BDO Digital for Help With Cybersecurity

Digital transformation in the supply chain helps organizations remain competitive and agile. The more digital tools you adopt, the more cyber risks you might face. Robust security strategies are necessary for digital transformation success.

BDO Digital can help your company develop a personalized cybersecurity approach for your digital supply chain transformation. Our suggestions assist with data security and compliance regulations, helping you respond to your distinct risks. You can use our risk assessments to identify current vulnerabilities, then work with our incident response service to address threats.

To learn more, contact BDO Digital today.