Globalization has done wonders for the procurement, supply and trade of goods. The supply chain that connects disparate producers and consumers has grown in complexity--and efficiency--through the use of innovative processes. Putting aside the cultural aspects of globalization and just focusing on trade, modern transportation, refrigeration, manufacturing and distribution has driven down the proportional cost of many categories of product. From consumer electronics to boxes of fresh strawberries, the supply chain is critical in maintaining the equilibrium of our society. For many people, the visible sign of the supply chain at work is the endless stream of vehicles, resplendent with corporate logos that dart across our motorways or the late night goods trains hurtling down tracks. But the sheer complexity of the myriad of steps that take raw materials, parts or finished goods from multiple sources is almost impossible to manage as a purely manual process. Behind the scenes, the supply chain is reliant on IT systems. These systems cover almost every aspect of procurement, logistics, manifesting, human resource management, stock control and pricing. The list is almost endless. In most part, these systems allow huge number of variables to be taken into account to allow complex decision to be simplified and optimized for the required task. Many of these systems allow companies to mitigate the effects of issues that are beyond their control, such as the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland that grounded 17,000 flights at the height of the dust cloud plume. The supply chain adapted relatively quickly with road haulage, trains and shipping being pressed into service to counteract the no fly zone. The switch was made easier by interconnected systems that allowed cargo capacity, delivery routes and priorities to be recalculated faster than any team of humans could manage.