for years, The prevailing narrative for innovation in the supply chain has focused on the disruptors: upstarts who enter the industry with new technologies and business models to displace incumbents.
The next wave of low starts often catalyzes these disruptions: digital supporters trying to arm existing ones against the intrusion of their new digital rivals.
But in areas ranging from freight brokerages to B2B marketplaces, these supporters have come to the fore again and again after the initial disruption. For these industries, digital enablers, rather than destroyers, constitute the next wave of supply chain innovation.
recurring second wave of innovation
At freight brokerages, Convoy and Uber Freight digitized the traditional process of matching truck drivers with loads, allowing them to streamline hours of email and phone calls with a simple app-based workflow. Now, companies like the parade Traditional freight brokers are equipped with similar tools.
Flexport and Forto made headlines in freight forwarding by promising greater transparency and control. They introduced digital business models that improved the customer experience, but also accelerated the onslaught of supporters – including vector.ai And shipmax Trying to make legacy freight forwarders more digital as well.
Supporters take a non-glamorous role in helping active people stay relevant.
Over and over again, we see these call-and-response patterns of disruptive innovation across supply chain categories. The story repeats as supply chains follow roadblocks in every category of business.
In each case, the threat of displacement has prompted incumbents to increase investment in their digital capabilities, allocating more budget for digital tools to match the capabilities of their new competition. Result? Nothing less than the next generation of innovation, this time led by enablers.
Quiet engine driving change
Enablers typically emerge or accelerate growth after their disruptive predecessors introduced technology that reshaped verticals and customer expectations. They play the non-glamorous role of helping current people stay relevant. Perhaps because of this approach, proponents as a category have been surprisingly overlooked, especially given their wide spread across the supply chain landscape and the impressive results they have achieved.