The Next Big Things in SC: Automation and AI

Automation and AI are the biggest buzz-words out in the industry today. A deep dive into Supply Chain Dive and increasing trends for the supply chain industry.

Automation and AI are the biggest buzz-words out in the industry today. Affecting all areas of the supply chain - procurement, logistics, and even beyond automation - according to Supply Chain Dive, the question today isn’t “should we adopt new technologies,” but has shifted to be, “how should we do it?” Understanding your specific company’s value proposition is the first step in moving forward in a highly automated and connected world.


For procurement, automation can be highly influential for purchase orders and invoices. High efficiency can be achieved by shifting from manual or semi-automated processes. As procurement leaders are working towards full automation, semi-automated processes are common practice, as further proven with half of respondents to SAP Ariba's survey describing their processes as "somewhat automated."

A step further from automation, artificial intelligence (AI) has the capability to take past occurrences and current data and transform it to rewrite contracts, adapt predictive ordering, and handle all levels of master data. While these steps have great potential to increase efficiency, good data is the core of any progressive movement.

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As artificial intelligence (AI) is increasing in popularity and accessibility, the network-based nature of the logistics industry fosters a natural habitat for this technology to grow. AI has the potential to provide insights for everyone in the logistics industry, from 3PLs, shippers and carriers alike. In a joint report from IBM and DHL, it addresses three key ways AI has the potential to disrupt the logistics industry as a whole. The three areas discussed are: harnessing data (gathering data from the supply chain and analyzing, identifying patterns and proving great insights to every area of the supply chain), customs brokerage (automate and accelerate the manual and robust brokerage process), and predictive analytics (predicting demand, optimizing routes and handling network management).

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Net Generation Supply Chains:

Beyond automation and artificial intelligence, robotics can provide a way to turn around the next generation of supply chains. “...using robotics to turn "ordinary machines into self-driving robots" can also improve other metrics, including quality, safety and workforce shortage reduction… robotics-enabled machines can provide a company with valuable data…” according to an article published by Supply Chain Dive. Ultimately, the next generation of supply chains will be focused around three main areas: the rise of robotics, harnessing and transforming big data, and predictive analytics. Changing B2B, B2C, and all areas of the business world, expect more partnerships and collaboration for companies of the future, making systems work for one another.

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