Imagine your company has a promotion underway for a newly launched product, and based on the sales forecast, you’ve kept a certain amount of inventory on hand. Then, your artificial intelligence (AI) system alerts you that the product
is gaining traction on social media — customers are giving
it a five-star rating — leading to an unexpected increase in
demand. The system can then offer recommendations on how
to ramp up production and inventory.
Or consider: Your AI system informs you of an 18-car pileup
on a major freeway — and that if you ship from a certain
distribution center, your delivery trucks are going to be hours
late. Using suggestions from the system, you might decide to
take a different route or ship the goods from another location.
Still in its infancy, AI has the potential to impact multiple parts
of the supply chain — including order management, customer
service, logistics and inventory management — as well as in
procurement and spend analysis.
It enables supply management organizations to make decisions
faster, using the fullest set of data possible and in real time,
says Jeanette Barlow, vice president of strategy and offering
management, IBM Watson Customer Engagement Supply
Chain Solutions at IBM in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “AI acts
as an advisor,” she says.
Without it, supply management practitioners would have to
Although still in development, AI has
check across many systems, sending emails, making phone
calls and holding meetings, she says: “If you were lucky, this
would take you only a few days. But it likely will take longer,
especially if you’re looking outside the organization.”
BY SUE DOERFLER
the potential to impact organizations in
many ways — and supply management
practitioners need to be prepared.