Understanding Supply Chain 4.0 and its potential impact on global value chains

The reorganization of supply chains using advanced technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, and autonomous robotics, is transforming the model of supply chain management from a linear one, in which instructions flow from supplier to producer to distributor to consumer, and back, to a more integrated model in which information flows in an omnidirectional manner to the supply chain. While e-commerce is uniquely suited to many of these techniques, they also hold the promise of improving efficiency in brick-and-mortar stores. These technologies are generating enormous benefits through reducing costs, making production more responsive to consumer demand, boosting employment (employment in supply chain sectors where such technologies are most likely to be applied has grown much more rapidly than in other supply chain sectors and in the economy as a whole) and saving consumers’ time. The impact of these technologies on the length of supply chains is uncertain: they may reduce the length of supply chains by encouraging the reshoring of manufacturing production to high-income economies, thus reducing opportunities for developing countries to participate in GVCs, or they may strengthen GVCs by reducing coordination and matching costs.

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