Tech companies poised to advance transformation in supply chains

Insights from PwC’s 2023 Digital Trends in Supply Chain Survey

Recent economic, environmental, political and public health challenges have put significant pressure on technology companies’ supply chains. To meet often volatile customer demand amid rising prices, ever-increasing competitive pressures and heightened geopolitical risks, tech companies have invested significantly in the digital transformation of their supply chains.

Their investments appear to have paid off, as they have made progress in supply chain compared to other sectors. In PwC’s 2023 Digital Trends in Supply Chain Survey, about half (51%) of tech leaders say that technology investments have allowed them to make faster decisions and better manage supply chain disruptions. Nearly as many (41%) report these investments have improved supply chain resiliency. Further opportunities lie ahead, as our survey finds, particularly in managing risk and elevating environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts.

Workers loading and inspecting a lorry at a large warehouse

Preparing for next steps in supply chain transformation

Many tech companies rate managing costs and increasing efficiency as among their top three priorities, although somewhat less so than other sectors. Notably, 33% include improving supply chain responsiveness and resilience among their top priorities, compared to 23% across all industry sectors. This suggests that, thanks to the progress they’ve already made, technology companies may be more forward-looking in further adapting supply chain systems and processes.

With perhaps more ambitious objectives, tech leaders are more likely to prioritize boosting employees’ digital skills. One third report finding it difficult to attract, develop and retain the “digital native” talent needed to transform supply chains.

Investing to enhance supply chain effectiveness

Survey results show technology companies at the forefront of investment in nearly every type of technology used to transform supply chain operations. Close to two thirds (65%) have fully implemented cloud-based platforms, compared to 51% across all industries. Tech companies are also more likely to have implemented blockchain technologies (41% versus 23% overall), AI (39% versus 26%) and augmented reality (24% versus 15%). Tech leaders say they plan to apply these and other technologies to automate processes and enhance performance throughout their supply chains.

Making progress in managing supply chain risk

Technology companies seem notably more confident about tech investments related to supply chain risk than executives in other sectors. A full 45% say that their investments help them adequately manage risk, compared to 30% overall. The same proportion, however, note that continued investment is needed to succeed in future. That could be because several areas still pose challenges. More than three quarters (80%) of tech companies find tracking risk problematic and 73% have concerns related to risk-related communication.

Connecting supply chain and ESG objectives

Tech leaders recognize that their companies’ supply chain and ESG strategies are tightly connected. Already, investments in supply chain technologies have enabled tech companies to increase diversity among vendors and business partners, according to 51% of sector respondents (versus 41% overall). At the same time, they note that technologies implemented to measure and track ESG goals have benefited supply chain operations.

What you can do

Here are the steps your company can take to help better prepare your supply chain for an increasingly digital world:

  • Continue to strengthen collaboration across functions and among suppliers. Consider developing and streamlining digitally enabled processes for sharing information across manufacturing partners, logistics partners, sales and marketing, and internal supply chain functions. This can lead to improved forecasts for everything from components and materials to warehousing and staffing needs.
  • Make sure your supply chain is up to speed. For tech companies, having a rapid-response supply chain is essential. Invest in technologies that automate tasks and provide visibility and transparency for all participants. For example, AI-enabled control towers — connected dashboards of data, key business metrics and events — can provide insights for quick, informed decision-making. Additionally, robotic process automation can boost efficiency across the organization including planning, sourcing and logistics.
  • Invest in fully upskilling your people. With the need growing for a workforce with digital skills, developing the capabilities of current staff can be critical in ensuring your company’s ability to remain competitive. In addition to enhancing their digital skills, your company should also foster and support employees’ ability to innovate and adapt to change.
  • Closely monitor macro trends to help anticipate change. Develop a systematic capability to monitor and assess geopolitical trends that may put research, production or distribution at risk. Develop and analyze risk scenarios to assess potential impact and develop actionable mitigation strategies and plans. In parallel, track opportunities that may arise from new government or industry initiatives.

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Contact us

Michael Whitman

Principal, Operations Transformation Technology Leader, PwC US

Mike Pegler

Principal, Operations Transformation, PwC US

Emmanuelle Rivet

Vice Chair, US TMT & Global Technology Leader, PwC US

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