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Happy: 2014 Industry Predictions

Blog: Deb Miller's DebsG360 Blog

12-11-2013 2-17-33 PM Happy 2014! Time for fabulous predictions.  Here’s one I predict  you won’t see from any other industry watcher…

Check out a longer version of this post with other awesome predictions at Industry Insights.


Dimensional disruption 

“By 2020, traditional supply chains will no longer exist. Instead all objects will be created at the point of use by 3D replicators.”  – Spacely Sprockets Research

George Jetson has a replicator, so does Jean Luc Picard. Now so can you. “Print Your Own 3-D Objects” describes Candy Fab. Resembling a  high-end industrial fabber, it prints by fusing a layer of sugar grains. The result: geometric confections including dodecahedra, Möbius strips and sugary helices. Okay, not yet for sale and admittedly not very practical. However, high performance additive manufacturing technologies, first developed in laboratories some 30 years ago, are now available for consumers and 3D printing offers “the realistic possibility that anyone, anywhere in the world can produce any object they need on demand.” For a thorough treatment of the subject I recommend  “3-D printing and the future of stuff.”

If you are looking for early signals to confirm that 3D printing has arrived as a force to be reckoned with, you need look no further than my new go-to scientific source, The Big Bang Theory, whose 3D episode was both incredibly funny and insightful. Having said that, it is clear that more traditional industry watchers are interested in 3D printing. In fact, it’s disruptive potential is highlighted by Gartner who predicts that a new digital industrial revolution has begun that threatens to reshape how physical goods are created with 3D printing at the heart of it. On the upside, 3D printing is a means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing. However, Gartner also warns that 3D printing will result in the loss of at least $100 billion per year in intellectual property globally by 2018. That prediction is one of 10 ‘Top Predictions for 2014′ made by Gartner.

I spend a good deal of my time these days with enterprise information management technologies that can improve the customer experience and at the same time optimize the supply chain, so I am particularly interested in how 3D printing might impact the retail value chain. In that regard, I definitely agree with Deloitte’s Alison Kenney Paul. In her 2014 “Outlook on Retail,” she points out that retailers will need to keep an eye on the rapid growth of 3D printing applications. Alison predicts:

“Printing customized and on-demand products in-store will revolutionize the customer experience and help retailers improve their inventory and supply chain management. At the same time, as personal 3D printers become affordable, retailers will need to deliver a unique store experience, since a small, but increasing, percentage of customers will be able to print products themselves at home.“

That’s just a leap of faith away from the prediction of a dissapearing supply chain, don’t you think?

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