Hermes’ David Turner takes a look at the technology trends set to shape the supply chain in the coming year.

As Hermes’ head of digital strategy and technology innovation, a key part of my role involves identifying exciting trends that could shape the future of our industry, which is why I took great interest in Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017.

Our industry may eventually come to rely on AI to drive efficiencies across the supply chain

David Turner, Hermes

Gartner defines a strategic technology trend as “one with substantial disruptive potential that is just beginning to break out of an emerging state”, or alternatively a rapidly growing trend with “a high degree of volatility reaching tipping point over the next five years”.

Sitting at the top of the list was “AI and advanced machine learning”, “intelligent apps” and “intelligent things” – so I thought I’d share how the delivery industry could embrace each trend.

AI and advanced learning

Intelligent systems that learn, adapt and potentially act autonomously have made headlines for many years, but could advancing AI technology be used by delivery firms in the near future?

While 2017 may have come too soon for a widespread integration, our industry may eventually come to rely on AI to drive efficiencies across the supply chain.

This could involve using predictive technologies to model and analyse future scenarios – whether that is expanding a fleet or designing new courier routes.

Intelligent apps

Intelligent apps already play a key role in everyday life for millions of smartphone users across the world, thanks to digital assistants such as Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon) and Cortana (Microsoft).

Whether we use them to wake us up, locate a pharmacy or even order a pizza, these apps are based around convenience.

That’s why the team inside our Innovation Lab are currently exploring ways to integrate and complement our technology with these apps – asking Siri to divert your parcel to another location would be very cool indeed!

Intelligent things

Amazon drone

Amazon drone

Could delivery drones have a major impact on the supply chain in 2017?

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about the use of drones, but could they have a major impact in 2017?

In their current form you could argue whether they are really feasible in built-up areas, especially in towns and cities that have airports.

Meanwhile, only 18% of those quizzed in a Hermes survey thought that drones were a good idea.

Despite these reservations, advancing technology and improved designs can help to win over the doubters.

This has been evident in the growth in autonomous vehicles. For instance, our colleagues in Germany made headlines last year by agreeing a partnership with Starship Technologies to trial parcel delivery by robots. The robots can drive autonomously while being monitored by human operators in control centres.


Regardless of industry, 2017 promises to be another fantastic year for technological advancement. At Hermes we will continue to invest heavily in innovation in order to explore new technologies that will make a huge impact upon the delivery industry of tomorrow.

  • David Turner is head of digital strategy and technology innovation at Hermes