We are going to have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable because there is a lot of change coming to supply chains.

Last month, I attended Manifest: The Future of Supply Chain and Logistics1 in Las Vegas. Together with industry leaders and partners, we explored the trends and technologies reshaping the sector. Below are eight themes for navigating today’s complex global supply chain landscape that dominated the conversations at the three-day conference.

1. Digital Transformation and Data for Decision Making

Digital transformation is seemingly going from “crawl” to “walk” in the supply chain, with the key ingredient for reaching “run” identified as data. The conference highlighted real-time tracking and analytics and leveraging digital platforms for enhanced visibility and efficiency. The integration of digital tools can help to monitor shipments in real-time, predict potential delays, and make data-driven decisions to optimize routes and reduce costs. Examples like using analytics tools to forecast demand, optimize inventory levels, and identify efficiency improvements can help you stay ahead of market trends and respond proactively to changes. We’ve seen this trend building for some time and considered this potential trajectory when investing in Magaya and PCS Software.

Read Magaya’s Value Creation Case Study: At the Forefront of a Digital Renaissance in Freight.

2. Use AI and Machine Learning as Catalysts

AI and machine learning can offer solutions for improved forecasting and route optimization. Early adopters are using AI to automate repetitive tasks, analyze large datasets for trend identification, and enhance their decision-making processes. One example we heard was using AI to create product descriptions, showcasing how it can streamline operations and reduce manual input. This feels like it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

3. Embrace Automation and Robotics

Automation and robotics are becoming more viable solutions to address labor shortages and enhance operational efficiency, particularly in warehousing and logistics. The discussions (and exhibit hall!) highlighted the deployment of robotics for picking and packing processes, illustrating how automation can significantly help increase throughput and accuracy while reducing human error and labor costs.

4. Prioritize Workforce Development

Amidst the rapid adoption of automation and AI, we believe people will continue to be the most critical assets in logistics companies. The transition towards a more digital supply chain environment necessitates a skilled workforce. It’s important to upskill employees to handle new technologies and digital tools. Initiatives such as training programs in digital literacy and partnerships with educational institutions can prepare the workforce for the future demands of the supply chain industry.

Watch the panel I led at Manifest on this topic: Workforce of the Future2

5. Track Sustainability and Efficiency

Sustainability is becoming a pivotal element of supply chain strategies. The conference highlighted the urgency for adopting eco-friendly practices, including streamlining logistics to minimize carbon emissions and embracing sustainable packaging solutions. Evaluate your environmental footprint3 and deploy strategies that not only comply with regulations but also appeal to eco-aware consumers.

6. Establish Cybersecurity as a Foundation

With the digitization of supply chains, cybersecurity threats pose significant and growing risks. Addressing this head-on by building comprehensive cybersecurity frameworks, conducting regular risk assessments, and creating employee training programs on security best practices can help to safeguard data integrity and uphold trust to ensure seamless operations.

7. Innovate with New Delivery Models

Consumer expectations for delivery services are evolving (“The Amazon Effect” we’ve discussed here before). The conference highlighted innovative delivery models, such as micro-fulfillment centers and drone deliveries, to meet the demand for faster and more flexible delivery options. These new models can help companies reduce delivery times, lower costs, and enhance customer satisfaction.

8. Plan for Resilient Supply Chains

The pandemic underscored the importance of supply chain resilience. Diversifying suppliers, investing in robust inventory management solutions, and developing contingency plans were strategies discussed at the conference to help mitigate the impact of disruptions.

Here’s the bottom line.

It seems like we’re going to have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable because there is a lot more change coming to supply chains. It was great seeing so many leaders and thinkers from the industry all in one place – we’re already looking forward to next year!

LLR is proactively seeking platform investments in Supply Chain Management and Transportation and Logistics.


  1. “The Future of Supply Chain & Logistics,” Manifest, 2024, https://manife.st/

  2. “Workforce of the Future,” Connectiv via Vimeo, 2024, https://vimeo.com/913258975

  3. “Getting a Clearer View of Your Company’s Carbon Footprint,” Harvard Business Review, 2023, https://hbr.org/2023/04/getting-a-clearer-view-of-your-companys-carbon-footprint