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Digital supply network: Reimagining delivery and last-mile operations

As we move towards the transformation of traditional supply chains into digital supply networks, delivery operations will become dynamic and more intelligent so that it can support the orchestration of physical and digital aspects of the fulfillment process. Smart delivery will become increasingly data-driven and dynamic. Digital technology will assist workers, and the process will become more efficient. We already see navigation systems automatically selecting the optimal routes and incorporating real-time traffic conditions. More critical, various assets will integrate with a digital core so that additional troves of data can produce an end-to-end view of the logistics system. We can infer some of these features on the next generation last-mile electric delivery van that Rivian is developing in partnership with Amazon. One of the aspects of the project hugely praised has been Amazon's attempt to build a sustainable transportation fleet. The company has announced an order of 100,000 units.

Considering the volume of the order, we can consider Amazon's move somewhat of a game-changer that will likely impact the broader environment of last-mile delivery. Another slightly less touted feature, however, is the underlying capability that the technology platform will provide to Amazon's last-mile delivery operations. It incorporates routing and package delivery technology to make it easier for the drivers to focus on operating the vehicle and enable a seamless delivery experience. Besides, and importantly, Amazon's and Rivian's press releases indicate that the car includes a digital instrument cluster and central display screen integrated with Amazon's logistics management system.

Beyond the safety and sustainability features, which are on their own laudable and exciting, the digital integration with Amazon's logistics management systems hints at a platform that will support an overarching dynamic fulfillment capability. As we move towards a digital supply network managerial thinking, we will increasingly see algorithm-enabled digital operating models, which have at their core an integrated data platform and often enable automated data-driven operational actions. The creative use of digital technologies to "reimagine" operating processes will increasingly rule the day.

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