AI and the hyper-specialized supply chain

Unencumbered access to data, agility and visibility between partners will be key to deploying AI in the supply chain says Josephine-Coombe of Nulogy

Nulogy CEO, Jason Tham, addressed the SCALE.AI community in Montreal on September 11, 2018 to address the role Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play in the emerging cognitive supply chain. Tham argues that AI’s real promise lies beyond the four walls of the enterprise through its ability to connect the broader multi-party community of supply chain stakeholders, enabling enhanced trust, data sharing, and collaboration. By unlocking and accelerating access to strategic intelligence across the ecosystem, AI can transform materials visibility and management, demand sensing and planning, and much more, allowing manufacturers and their suppliers to dramatically accelerate maneuverability of assets through the supply chain, reduce waste, and respond to customers with agility.

As consumer markets become more hyper-fragmented, and retail disruption and e-commerce transform the channel journey through which finished goods must travel, brands and their strategic suppliers will also be able to leverage AI to better map what customers want, when, and where. Tham discusses how AI is enabling the hyper-specialized supply chain that will see brands differentiating and customizing products with ever greater specificity to meet the needs of micro-segmented markets, retail formats, and channel fulfillment needs.

This hyper-specialization will in turn require highly specialized technology suppliers like Nulogy that play a focused, federating role within a more complex and diversified supply chain environment. Nulogy’s Agile Customization Platform helps consumer goods companies and their contract packaging service providers collaborate more effectively to optimize and accelerate late-stage customization of products while reducing waste and cost in the supply chain. Tham presents the model under development within the Nulogy platform for leveraging AI, which he terms the 4 Cs: Capture, Connect, Control and Cognition.

  • Capture: Unencumbered access to operational data will be essential in the new AI-driven supply chain, and much of this data collection will be extra-enterprise, disseminated across the manufacturer’s supply network.
  • Connect: Agility in the supply chain requires continuity of process and intelligence-enabled connection across the ecosystem of supply chain stakeholders.
  • Control: Control tower visibility is a popular theme, but visibility must transcend the enterprise and extend to the supplier network to deliver advantage. With bi-directional visibility between brand and supplier, collaboration is enabled and shared interests protected, driving growth for both sides.
  • Cognition: The ultimate goal of an AI-enabled supply chain is to achieve a cognitive state — the thinking supply chain — that enables actionable insights and intelligent decision making through machine learning and AI harvested insight.

The AI-Powered Supply Chains Supercluster (SCALE.AI), is one of five winning consortiums evaluated over the past year as part of the Canadian government’s innovation agenda. The Innovation Superclusters Initiative is designed to encourage institutions in adjacent industries to work together on strategies to boost fast-growing sectors. SCALE.AI consists of more than 120 companies shaping the global, digital supply chain and brings together retail, manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure, and information and communications technology sectors to build intelligent supply chains through artificial intelligence and robotics. The consortium aims to bolster Canada’s leadership in AI and accelerate industry adoption of enabling technologies through collaborative and incremental projects.

Nulogy, one of the recipients of the federal government’s planned funding of SCALE.AI members, is a leading provider of agile supply chain software to the consumer goods industry and their supplier networks.

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