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Trends Shaping The Future of The B2B Supply Chain in 2022

By 2022 supply chains will be dominated by real-time data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). The growing demand for speed, automation, and product customization are forcing companies to adopt emerging technologies. By 2022, it is estimated that over 70% of manufacturing companies will have adopted IoT solutions in their production processes. Open source platforms such as Apache Hadoop offer limitless storage capacity, thus making it easier for businesses to handle large volumes of structured and unstructured data generated every day. In addition, increased connectivity through cloud-based services means that this vast amount of data can now be analyzed in minutes rather than months. This ensures that manufacturers have access to information at all times without having to invest heavily in infrastructure or IT resources.

Core Shifts

The face of logistics and transport will change dramatically in 2022. We’ll see a shift from manual processes and local deliveries to more automated and regionally-optimized transportation management systems (TMS). Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and virtual reality technologies will improve the speed of delivery, eliminate human errors and reduce costs by 50%. The use of drones for low altitude package deliveries such as food items is also on the rise, along with 3D printing technologies for custom packaging. A combination of these solutions and better mapping tools have made it possible to deliver products within hours instead of days or weeks, depending on the location. According to a study conducted by McKinsey Global Institute, by 2025, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) could create $100-billion market opportunities.

Socio-technical systems are evolving more rapidly these days, ensuring the smooth flow of goods across markets at a much faster pace. For example, collaborative robots or cobots are introduced in production lines to reduce human errors and time delays. Cobots can be easily programmed, so businesses need not invest in expensive machinery to automate their processes. Robotic process automation is expected to create over 2 million jobs by 2022 as it speeds up manual tasks, thus reducing manufacturers’ costs. Additionally, new services such as truck platooning have emerged where trucks drive very close together, which helps save fuel costs with the help of wireless technologies like vehicle-to-vehicle communication and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.

While today’s supply chain strategies are developed around predictable demand for standardized products or services, tomorrow’s supply chains must be flexible enough to accommodate real-time customer demands. Companies that can break away from the pack will improve their customers’ experience and gain an edge on their bottom line.

Here are ten trends that could dramatically change how companies operate their B2B supply chains:


As mentioned earlier, customization of goods and services is critical in B2B supply chains. According to the 2015 State Of Enterprise Customization Report, more than 50 percent of supply chain managers say their companies are already providing customized products and services to meet the needs of individual customers. And that number will likely increase over time as more consumers expect personalized experiences at every turn. To accommodate this need for customization, businesses will have to rethink product development processes from end to end, moving away from batch manufacturing toward a more agile approach where production can be scaled up or down quickly based on customer demand.


In addition to shifting from mass production to agile manufacturing capabilities, B2B organizations will also need to prioritize collaborative practices across all departments involved in product development. That means companies will need to overhaul their reporting structures and management practices. For example, B2B teams will likely no longer report to a centralized procurement organization – they may be part of product development or marketing organizations, which might work with customers or retailers directly.

Demand-driven planning and forecasting

Flexibility is the name of the game in today’s fast-paced economy, where customer demands can shift overnight and lead to an immediate need for new products or services. As such, demand-driven supply chains that rely on accurate forecasts adjusted as market conditions change will continue to gain favor among forward-thinking companies. This strategy requires businesses to consider sales and production as two sides of the same coin: sales enablement must be closely linked to production planning and supply chain execution.

Big data

As B2B supply chains transition from batch manufacturing to more minor, agile manufacturing processes that will be demand-driven, companies will need to process massive amounts of real-time data to stay competitive. Large datasets must be collected systematically and analyzed thoroughly so relevant business insights can be gleaned at every level—from front-line managers to the C-suite. The ability to access and analyze big data could become even more critical as we move closer toward a cashless economy where mobile devices play a significant role in customer engagement and commerce activities.

Mobile technology

We’re seeing an increased presence of mobile technologies throughout the B2B value chain—from suppliers to manufacturers and distributors. For example, today’s buyers increasingly use mobile shopping applications to browse products or services on their smartphones before purchasing online or in stores. Similarly, the use of mobile devices for commerce activities is expected to grow by 2020, led by emerging markets where many people don’t currently own PCs.

The pace of change in the B2B arena will only increase over time as technology evolves and customer demands rapidly shift. Companies that can keep up with these changes will be able to cut costs while also strengthening their competitive edge against competitors who either lag or refuse to adapt at all.

Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, and Replenishment (CPFR)

This software-based technology streamlines the planning and forecasting process across the entire B2B supply chain.

The goal of collaborative planning is to improve communication by providing a shared vision among business partners via an integrated environment where data can be accessed from multiple sources.

This approach allows companies to make more informed decisions by analyzing consistent, up-to-date information instead of relying on reports from disparate systems. It has been found that organizations that use CPFR can increase their inventory turns by 50 percent or more while reducing working capital requirements by 20 percent.

Data visibility

Increasingly, businesses will demand more real-time data and improved visibility into the B2B supply chain so that they can make smarter decisions in less time. Accessing accurate, readily available information will become a differentiator for companies that succeed in the years ahead.

Automated warehouse management systems

To remain competitive, manufacturers will need to build automated warehouses powered by advanced software, including robotics processes designed to reduce labor costs while increasing accuracy. For example, companies are already using collaborative robots—also known as “cobots”—to perform simple tasks such as picking, packing, or inspecting products at speeds up to three times faster than humans can accomplish manually. Robots have also been piloted successfully in shipping centers where they move goods around warehouses.

Predictive intelligence

As the B2B space becomes more competitive, companies will need to anticipate where they see demand five or ten years down the road to start preparing now instead of being caught off guard. For instance, automakers predict that driverless transportation services will eventually take over city streets, which could cause car dealers to go out of business. Given this threat, savvy distributors are starting to explore new asset-light models that let them provide value beyond simply selling vehicles.

10) Collaborative Planning Forecasting and Replenishment.

This software-based technology is used across the B2B supply chain for improved communication via an integrated environment where data can be accessed from multiple sources to improve inventory turns by 50 or more while reducing working capital requirements by 20 percent.

The B2B Supply Chain Forcast in 2022

  1. 43% of executives surveyed in a recent Forrester study said they plan to invest more in B2B omnichannel strategies over 12 months.
  2. According to research by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), nearly 50% of B2B organizations have adopted cloud computing, up from just 10 percent five years ago.
  3. According to Aberdeen Group, companies that use advanced analytics outperform their peers financially by 26%. And yet, only 7% are currently using predictive analytics in the supply chain.
  4. According to recent research from ARC Advisory Group, the Internet of Things (IoT) is driving 85% of manufacturers’ investment in connected manufacturing initiatives.
  5. More than 40% of supply chain managers surveyed by Accenture said they plan to invest in sensory and radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies over the next two years.
  6. The number of Internet-connected devices has more than doubled since 2010, according to Gartner. By 2022, there will be nearly 21 billion connected devices worldwide, up from roughly 8.4 billion today.
  7. According to Forbes, brands lose up to $350 billion annually due to supply chain disruptions alone. This problem only worsens as globalization continues apace, and companies produce goods across increasingly broad geographies.
  8. Only about a quarter of supply chain managers say they have the right talent in place to stay competitive, according to a recent study from KPMG and MIT Sloan Management Review.
  9. By 2022, 46% of manufacturers plan to be running their factories with ” Industry 4.0″ capabilities. According to a survey by Intel, these include automation and analytics – up from just 5% today. Meanwhile, only 11 percent of manufacturers believe their organizations are prepared for this shift today.
  10. According to Gartner, by 2022, 75 percent of companies will compete mainly based on how well they use big data and analytics against customer insights for new revenue streams and improved customer experiences.Finally, there is no question that the B2B sector is shifting. Technology evolves at a rapid pace, and businesses must change or risk becoming obsolete.