We live in exciting times. Computing horsepower, 5G networking speeds, self-driving cars, 3D printers and robots reaching Jetson’s Rosey the Robot-like capability. In the supply chain arena, we are moving from weekly delivery to next-day, same-day and even hourly deliveries in certain cities. With the acceleration of technologies and the digitization of our work, we asked a question, “What’s next?” St. Onge dedicated a team to investigate the Customer of the Future with a 2050 horizon (think ‘post-Amazon’ if you can imagine that). Our goal was to investigate the convergence of social trends and technology innovations/trends leading to insights on the future of retail, manufacturing, distribution and healthcare. The team wanted to develop a perspective on the customer of 2050, their world, and their supply chains. To properly frame this as a supply chain problem, we developed some bounding assumptions:
Our team studied and leveraged some of the foremost futurists and their predictions regarding computing speeds, computer implants with higher functions, autonomous vehicles, augmented/virtual reality, haptic technology, sensors and full-time network connectivity.
A possible scenario
The consumer of the future will have a choice. A significant number of services will be efficiently and effectively provided at a high level of service (hours not days). Service will be provided to the consumer at their immediate location. Immediate location could be on vacation, in a park, or even in a moving car. Think Drone to Phone deliveries. With that level of service, consumers will only physically leave the home for a positive experience or because it’s required. Mundane tasks will continue to be automated. Consumers will be able to “cherry pick” tasks based on personal growth or enjoyment. Virtual trips will enable digital interactions that will be backed up with physical supply chains (local 3D replication or physical resupply).
On the healthcare front, genetic profiling at birth along with further testing and modeling will enable the creation of a Personal Digital Twin. This digital version of each person will enable patient specific testing and future state simulations to test and validate personal interventions. No longer will we need to lean on companies to perform the adequate and well-controlled studies and to interpret the efficacy of results that may or may not work on us. Personalized medicines will be created exacting to the patient. What will this drug specifically do for you? What will be your specific side effects today? Year five? Year thirty? This will be matched with real time monitoring of bio markers (via nanobots or other similar technology) and will inform Personal Artificial Intelligent Life Style Managers. These managers will anticipate/predict issues and intervene with 3D printed meal choices with Rx content or virtual reality stress management sessions with a goal of keeping everyone healthy and out of the hospital.
There is no doubt that, with the pace of innovation and technological advancements, the next twenty to thirty years will be exciting. The customer of the future will require a higher level of service. Supply chains will need to meet these increased demands, and embrace the future and the technologies that will come with it in order to remain competitive.
—Sean O’Neill, St. Onge Company