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How the metaverse will change the future of the supply chain

By Zach Thompson
Thu 30 Jun 2022

The metaverse is set to significantly change the way we live and work, so what problems can it solve in supply chain management?

Pinning down exactly what the metaverse is can be tricky as the term is still evolving, but some key characteristics can be used to understand its benefits.

Ultimately, a metaverse is designed to seamlessly integrate virtual content with physical reality into an immersive experience and often involves communicating with other people through virtual or augmented reality (VR/AR) technology.

In addition, users are represented by customisable avatars, and the environment and the objects in it also stay consistent during their interactions.

A metaverse also allows users to own, borrow, buy, sell and trade and this will only continue to evolve as the technology does, enabling an infinite number of metaverses.

But if it's virtual, how will it help supply chain management?

Although it may not seem that there are any apparent connections between the metaverse and the physical world, there are many ways that it can be used to affect and mould the future of the supply chain.

Adding to this is that operating a business across a metaverse environment will soon become commonplace, and getting ahead of the curve now will save a lot of hassle further down the line.

In fact, according to Accenture's Technology Vision 2022 report, 78% of supply chain executives report plans to partner with others in the next three years and 57% plan to invest in technology or startups.

Accenture's research also found that 64% of supply chain executives think the metaverse will positively affect their companies.

The biggest benefits the metaverse will offer to the supply chain include:
 

  • Significant changes in how organisations balance demand and supply

The immersive nature of the metaverse will foster a greater understanding of demand for an organisation's offerings because it will interact more with customers and have more visibility of them during the purchasing process.

This will afford supply chains the means to replace instances where demand is predicted poorly with highly accurate data that can be used to create stronger customer experiences and generate new opportunities to delight customers as well as forms of customer value.

When it comes to supply, combining AR and VR with real-time, multi-source data can provide more robust visibility into supply chain processes and facilities and attributes such as inventory and capacity.

What's more is that through the metaverse, being in a different room, building, or country won't matter, as it will facilitate everyone involved in the supply chain to collaborate and make faster, stronger decisions.

  • Precise data for planning and insights

With the metaverse fostering a more customised and automated world, humans will be handed the reigns to more easily and richly dictate what they see, interact with, and experience.

As a result, organisations will also be able to build and provide these experiences. And it all starts with products.

Physical products will evolve beyond their passive role in supply chains where they are planned, produced and shipped to instead become actively involved in influencing how they are made, delivered and enjoyed beyond their sale to a customer by learning, observing and operating autonomously.

  • The ability to efficiently solve complex supply chain challenges

Using the metaverse will solve supply chain problems that have previously used up valuable time and resources or even been entirely unsolvable.

Supply chains have traditionally been forced to use historical data that cannot be used for anything else as it is so specific to the environment and events that generated it.

This has resulted in problems occurring during planning, forecasting, staffing and a range of other important activities because the way the data is being used is different from the original context it was collected in.

The metaverse will offer new levels of supply chain data because it will give organisations the means to use synthetic data to model and scenario plan, providing greater accuracy in plans and forecasts.

  • Dramatically evolve products

Unprecedented computing power is required to create a metaverse, and it is this power that will solve the biggest supply chain issues to date.

For example, supply chains usually approach inventory optimisation or S&OP by separating the processes into smaller components, in part to reflect organisational structures but also to make it easier for a computer to cope with.

The computing power designed to create the metaverse will solve these problems without separating the processes, instead using a previously non-existent capacity to let companies remove the delineation between planning and executing.

Moreover, this will allow users to see the complete supply chain from suppliers all the way through to end customers, which will consistently balance supply and demand in real-time.

Overcoming the constraints of current computing power will see supply chains able to operate more cost-effectively, allowing customer demands to always be met and enabling greater resilience and sustainability.

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