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AI, Advanced Analytics and Digital Twin Among Leading Supply Chain Tech Trends

By Matt Tichon  July 10, 2019

Matt Tichon is LLamasoft’s Vice President of Industry Strategy.

Gartner Report: The 2019 Top Supply Chain Technology Trends You Can’t Ignore

A sea of innovative technology has surfaced over the last few years, bringing the potential to make a strategic impact on supply chains and operations. Separating the signal from the noise is no small task and many of these new technologies require a hefty investment of time, money and resources. Determining which trends to adopt and when can be paramount to your company’s successful digitization journey.

Gartner maps out eight trends in its recently published report, The 2019 Top Supply Chain Trends You Can’t Ignore.1

Here are three of those trends LLamasoft sees as especially relevant as we engage with our customers and develop solutions to address their most pressing supply chain and demand planning needs:

Artificial Intelligence

According to the Gartner research, “Artificial intelligence (AI) in supply chain consists of technologies that seek to emulate human performance.” It does this by learning, making conclusions, understanding complex data, using dialogs with people and improving or replacing human performance in deploying occasional tasks.

Supply chain designers can implement AI to enhance performance in supply chain functionality; those who’ve piloted it have reported promising benefits. AI can systematize supply chain methods such as demand forecasting, production planning or predictive maintenance which helps automatic decision making.

Some use case examples include using AI to optimize delivery routes, applying algorithms for notifications to users and implementing AI-based applications to augment customer services. To begin using AI in your supply chain, engage with vendors for insight into how they use AI and how it’ll be used in the future to enhance their technology’s usability. Additionally, focus on culture changes and your organization’s willingness to implement AI technology that will benefit your supply chain.

Advanced Analytics
“Prescriptive analytics describe a set of analytical capabilities that find a course of action to meet a predefined objective,” stated in the report. These include optimization methods (e.g., linear programming and a combination of predictive analytics and rules), heuristics and decision analysis methods such as influence diagrams.

Organizations can deploy simulation, statistical modeling and forecasting in real-time to potentially avoid issues or disruptions in dynamic pricing, product quality testing and dynamic replenishment. Prescriptive analytics augment decision-making in planning, sourcing, and logistics and transportation and in turn, make recommendations to manage alternatives in inconsistent goals.

Use cases include using condition-based maintenance to predict equipment failures before they happen, using advanced analytics for management in shipping disruptions, interlocking production processes or quality improvements and improving sales by consolidating data to predict demand. To begin using advanced analytics in your supply chain, pinpoint the methods that can benefit from it, verify data readiness and establish how to apply the outputs.

Digital Supply Chain Twin
Gartner defines the digital twin in this way: “The digital supply chain twin is a digital representation of the physical supply chain. It is a dynamic, real-time and time-phased representation of the various associations between the data objects that ultimately make up how the physical supply chain operates.” It depicts the relationships between products, customers, markets, distribution centers/warehouses, plants, finance, attributes and weather to understand the state, respond to changes, expand processes and add significance.

Predictive and prescriptive analytics are applied to the digital supply chain twin to make comprehensive, quality decisions quickly. Use cases include creating a model of the supply chain for end-to-end visibility and awareness and implementing AI platforms that consume data to generate a digital representation of the relationships. Gartner recommends “putting the notion of a digital supply chain twin at the center of your technology roadmap.”

Read this blog to get a deeper dive on how the digital supply chain twin trend is elevating supply chains around the world.

1Gartner The 2019 Top Supply Chain Technology Trends You Can’t Ignore, Christian Titze, Andrew Stevens, 11 March 2019