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How Software-Defined Supply Chain Changes Everything

New disruptive elements are constantly emerging in business, and when they push the envelope enough, the situation calls for a shift in paradigm. Paul Brody of IBM writes in a blog post about how 3D printing, intelligent robotics, and open source hardware collectively will revolutionize manufacturing and create a “software-defined supply chain.” He and his associates have studied the effects of each of these technologies, trying to see how software compares to traditional methods. Among other things, they took a variety of electronics, including hearing aids and a washing machine, and tore them apart. Then they saw if their integrated software model could reproduce the electronics and at what costs. A major benefit that emerged from the software model is that limited scale is required to create a cost-effective result. The lack of need for component standardization also means reduced fixed costs with the integrated software model. The simplicity and intuitiveness of this model means many smaller businesses will be able to take advantage of it, creating much more competition for larger businesses than anything that has been seen before. To stay competitive into the future, supply chains must be mindful and account for this technological shift, especially preparing for significantly shorter print runs. The future is coming, and it will be a beautiful place if you survive to see it.

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