New technology holds the potential to uncover opportunities, increase efficiency and reduce risk within the supply chain, and technology continues to play a critical role in the supply chain. This year’s study respondents reported that promising technologies include 5G, real-time data transmission, Internet of Things and data analytics.

5G, the 5th generation of mobile networks, is designed to provide comprehensive connectivity, which should enhance supply chain operations, performance and real-time communications, ultimately driving the digital supply chain. More than half of shippers (52%) and 3PLs (63%) said 5G technology is either moderately or critically important.

3PLs said they are investing in Internet of Things technology to improve workforce productivity (63%), improve real-time decision making (57%) and create a competitive differentiator in the market (57%). Shippers are also investing to improve real-time decision making (53%), but also to improve customer satisfaction (53%), improve workforce productivity (33%) and improve asset utilization (33%).

Plus, those within the supply chain said they plan to make significant investments over the next three years. For 3PLs, top investment areas include robotics, such as high-dense storage, pickers and palletizers (38%), autonomous forklifts (35%) and wearables (35%). Shippers are focused on increased investment in intelligent data analytics (26%), robotics (20%) and autonomous forklifts (20%).