While forecasts of the coming decade may be impossible, can we anticipate what 2020 may hold for practitioners in supply chain and procurement jobs?

One expert has offered his tips for tech trends that will gather momentum during the coming year.

Procurement and supply chain journalist Bob Trebilcock (editorial director of the respected Supply Chain Management Review) suggests that practitioners in these professions, whether they’re permanent staff or interims, will see four tech trends gathering strong momentum this year:


There has been major investment in this field in the procurement and supply chain space in recent years, and it’s a safe bet that this will continue. However, we might expect greater differentiation taking hold: robotics isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Robots designed for one setting can’t easily be shoehorned into another environment. There is as yet no standardisation among robotics manufacturers, and Trebilcock predicts that warehouses may begin experimenting with more than merely one fleet of robots – a development that will need some ingenious efforts to create a management system that can bring them all together in a coordinated way.


Procurement and supply chain software is seriously taking off. Solution providers are talking far less about hardware and much more about how new algorithms in their software can achieve procurement transformation. A new development that may well emerge in 2020 is innovative software capable of verifying and validating advanced algorithms.

Edge Computing

The days of portable, remote ‘dumb terminals’ with no computing power – for example, voice headsets, mobile printers, barcode scanners – will be revolutionised with Edge computing, which puts computer power and analytics right down on the floor. Properly informed, data-based decision-making in real time and effective optimisation is coming soon as a result.

Evolution of warehouse execution systems (WES) and warehouse management systems (WMS) 

WES and WMS will get smarter in 2020, and they won’t be confined to already-automated warehouses. They’ll also be available for conventional warehouses. 

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