With 2014 now behind us, it is time to look forward and see what 2015 will have in store for the industry.

1. Mergers and Acquisitions of Logistics Service Providers. In the last two months of 2014, it was announced that C.H. Robinson was purchasing freightquote.com and FedEx was purchasing GENCO.  These deals are just the beginning of more deals in the first quarter of 2015. In 2015, as you are looking for transportation or warehousing partners, it will be important to understand not only the current capabilities of the partners, but what additional capabilities could be gained or lost if that partner is acquired or invests in an acquisition.

2. Omni-Channel Challenge. Many companies are still challenged by how they either implement or fit into the Omni-Channel conversation.

3. Changing Driver Demand. As ecommerce moves towards enabling same day deliveries, it will require the industry to bring on more local delivery drivers. Also, as part of enabling true Omni-Channel delivery models, many smaller orders will need to be moved between forward distribution points and retail stores to enable rapid delivery to the customer.

4. Faster Integration of Cloud Computing. 2015 will see an increase in more companies moving ERP, WMS, and TMS solutions to a cloud based system. With the availability of a variety of cloud based software tools, this will enable companies to test changes to systems and processes without a major investment in one new system.

5. Additive Manufacturing. In both 3D printing and customizable product solutions, 2015 will see the rapid rise of metallic printing as well as discussions about related items such as customized individual books, magazines, and even clothes that are printed and assembled to order.

6. Autonomous Delivery Vehicles. There are logistics providers and established research institutions that are actively pursuing autonomous delivery vehicles in operations and on the roads. While most analysts see a long timeline for delivery, 2015 will see a major shift in the discussion from the cloud to the ground as the need for safer and efficient automated deliveries is seen realized and publicized.

7. Falling Fuel and Energy Costs. As more gas and oil is extracted in the United States in 2015, companies will be able to utilize their energy savings to make much needed investments in capital equipment. While regular gasoline continues to decline in the beginning of 2015, diesel prices are not dropping at the same rates. This can hurt large commercial fleets, but it will help continue the conversion to natural gas for shorter haul fleets.

8. Supply Chain Talent and Leadership Gap. As the economy and stock markets are improving, more industry leaders are taking the opportunity to shift to new roles or retire. This is creating a major gap in leadership that most companies are not ready to fill. This leadership gap will require companies to look strategically at how they hire, manage, and retain the best supply chain leadership.

9. Advanced Analytics. The major challenge that the industry will be facing in 2015 is that of analyzing all the data that has been collected and stored. While many companies claim that they have advanced analytic systems and can query massive data tables, many don’t have an idea of what they are supposed to be measuring or improving.

10. Supply Chain Agility. With trends, disasters, and disruptions being unpredictable, we see companies needing to go beyond performance metrics and start to look at the key infrastructure changes needing to be made to respond to a number of challenges.

11. Infrastructure Challenges. While many countries continue to INVEST in their infrastructure, we are still challenged with aging roads in the United States and underdeveloped transportation systems in many of the developing markets.

12. Increase in Technology investments. Where many companies have focused on ad-hoc systems the last few years, 2015 will see a major push to consider massive system and infrastructure improvements in a lot of companies.

13. Demand for Global Partners. Businesses are going to need global partners that can help guide them to making the required changes to their business to succeed in the years to come.

As 2015 begins, the trends indicate a need to align with supply chain partners that will be able to move the needle forward and help move companies to become more automated, agile, and able to analyze the demands of a changing world.

Adapted from Christopher Elliott‘s blog 2015 Trends in Supply Chain and Logistics.

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