Consolidation along the top edges Toward the end of this year, merger mania seemed to come back into style among supply chain customers and IT vendors alike. Kmart bought Sears, forming the third-largest retail firm in the United States. Oracle kept trying to acquire PeopleSoft in hopes of bolstering its position versus ERP market leader SAP. Read more here about what the Kmart-Sears merger means for the supply chain.Fragmentation elsewhereBut in the middle of some consolidation around the top edges, many aspects of the supply chain remained fragmented and verticalized. Opportunities heated up in SCM/L areas such as transportation and logistics and inventory optimization. Meanwhile, some niche playerseither inside SCM/L or on its peripherygot bought. IBMs purchase of Trigo and GXS acquisition of Haht Commerce Inc., another PIM (product information management) specialist, were both aimed at supply chain automation. Symbol acquired tagmaker Matrics based on its RFID strength. Click here to read more about automating the supply chain. Fears of terrorism on the supply chain At industry conferences and seminars, security experts speculated that the next big terrorism incident will happen on the supply chain. Others pointed out that RFID still doesnt answer the question of "whats in the box?" New video surveillance products appeared for keeping watch over the supply chain. Standards for RFID package tracking still emerging For their part, customers fretted over the current lack of workable standards for package tracking and security within the United States and around the world. The needs for standards and privacy top RFID concerns. Click here to read more. High-tech integration of back-end infrastructures Globalization became a stronger buzzword as trade exchanges touted elaborate plans to integrate their back-end infrastructures. In August, the UCC (Uniform Code Council), original overseer of product bar-code information, and EAN International, another international standards group, launched the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN). Low-tech communications on many front lines In the face of some continuing economic uncertainties, many companies excelled this year in managing their own supply chains. But still, one influential study of supply chain initiatives uncovered deep differences between companies in high tech and retail, on the one hand, and less progressive fields such as forestry and mining on the other. In another analysts survey, many respondents openly admitted that they still rely on phone and fax for communicating with suppliers. Oh, what an interesting year it was! Dont ever get roped into believing that the supply chain is boring. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news and analysis of enterprise supply chains.