Machine intelligence and human creativity in supply chain planning

Dr. MadhavDurbha

artificial intelligence I am reading this absolutely fascinating book “Deep Thinking: Where machine intelligence ends and human creativity begins” by Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion. As the title suggests, in this book Kasparov shares a highly provocative point of view on artificial intelligence and its implications for the human race, with the backdrop of his 1997 loss in a highly publicized chess match up against IBM’s chess computer Deep Blue. The book did make me reflect on my own experiences and views on the division of labor between the machines and human supply chain planners.

Much has been written and said about how machine intelligence is impacting supply chain planning in the form of automating a human planner’s function, with implications on the future of the profession itself. I would be remiss in stating that automation will have no impact on planning profession. Yes! The focus on automation in planning is increasing and will continue to increase. However, this has to take place in the context of empowering planners and significantly augmenting their productivity to handle activities with larger scope and with higher levels of cognition that can drive strategic value for business. When done in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, automation initiatives can significantly benefit planners who are willing to adapt and change, and organizations as a whole.

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AI, ML aren’t magic pixie dust, and other supply chain insights from Kinexions day one

AlexaCheater

From catching up with the very first Kinaxis customer to exploring the future of supply chain, day one of Kinexions, our annual user and training supply chain conference, proved to be an out-of-this-world learning experience, aptly set to a soundtrack of songs by ‘80s rock group Journey.

And what a journey day one at Kinexions has been. Here are just a few of the great insights coming from the conference:

AI - Kinaxis Kinexions“Artificial intelligence and machine learning aren’t magical pixie dust.”
John Sicard, CEO, Kinaxis

As Kinaxis CEO John Sicard put it, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) aren’t magic, but they can help you create a little in your supply chain. Sicard talked about the notion of a self healing supply chain, one based on machine learning algorithms, which can help you:

  • Detect deviations
  • Analyze and make intelligent predictions on what your values should be
  • Heal itself automatically
  • Monitor performance improvement and value over time

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Supply chain agility, the disillusioned data scientist, Amazon effect, and other tales from LogiPharma US 2017

Dr. MadhavDurbha

LogiPharma - Pharmaceutical supply chainI was at the recent LogiPharma US conference for the pharmaceutical supply chain leaders. However, most of the insights and the stories I took away from the event are applicable to other industries as well. Here they are:

1. Personalized medicine demands supply chain agility: During a highly engaging panel discussion on “Building a patient-centric supply chain”, Kevin Cook, VP of North America supply chain at Sandoz (a division of Novartis) talked about the unique nature of the recently approved Kymriah, CAR-T cell therapy for children and young adults with certain types of Leukemia. The therapy showed an 83% remission rate in the patient population studied! In CAR-T cell therapy, every single dose of a treatment is completely personalized, as it involves extracting the patient’s immune cells, bringing them to a production facility, genetically modifying them, transporting them back (at minus 180oF!!), and then reinfusing the patient to fight the cancer cells. So, personalized medicine is here! With it comes several logistical challenges.

While Kymriah is the ultimate example of personalized therapy, there were several attending companies that provided therapies for rare diseases affecting a few hundred to a few thousand patients across the globe. In such a high mix, low volume portfolio, decisions such as how to allocate short supply to patients in case of contamination of a manufactured batch, can be lifesaving. Brad Pawlowski of Accenture said it right during his opening remarks – “Instead of executing one supply chain a thousand times, we should get ready to execute a thousand supply chains, one at a time”.

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Are you ready for the fallout? How proposed US trade policy changes will impact your end-to-end supply chain

AlexaCheater

global supply chainLove them or hate them, it’s hard to escape the proposed sweeping changes to America’s trade policy put forth by US President Donald Trump. From withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it’s clear the 45th President of the United States is pushing hard on an America-first agenda. But what impact will his trade policy changes have on your end-to-end supply chain?

Supply chain risks

The majority of US manufacturing leaders are optimistic about this shift toward more business-friendly policymaking, at least according to a recent survey by the Aberdeen Group and consulting firm TBM. Their research found as a group, manufacturers anticipate a 1.8% increase in profits and a 1.6% revenue gain from proposed tax, regulatory or trade policy changes. What remains unclear is the potential fallout of any changes to international trade agreements, which could be devastating to companies running global supply chains.

According to the 2017 Aberdeen Supply Chain Readiness Research Study, tax structure changes are likely to have the biggest impact on financial results over the next few years, but unfortunately for you, that’s largely out of your control. What you can control is how you mitigate the supply chain risks associated with any negative impact of changes to foreign trade agreements. That means knowing:

  • What could change?
  • When could that change happen?
  • How will it affect current cost structures?

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Only a few sleeps until Kinexions ’17 – a supply chain conference to make connections

TeresaChiykowski

kinexions-supply-chain-conference-connectionsNext week, people will gather together in Orlando for Kinexions ’17 for the premier annual event for our RapidResponse® user community. I’m no prognosticator, but what I can say is Kinexions promises to be a great time for learning, networking and seeing what’s next for RapidResponse.

Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” It’s a good quote (most of Henry’s are) in that it describes the RapidResponse journey. Together, our Kinaxis team, partners and customers are succeeding in revolutionizing supply chain planning. And one of the best ways to see it in action is at Kinexions ’17.

This year, customers are coming out in record numbers to present their RapidResponse success stories on the mainstage, in breakout sessions and as members on a panel. I’ve already given you a sneak peek into some of the inspiring stories our customers will share, including Merck, DJO and AMD. We’re also pleased to welcome Jabil, Palo Alto Networks, Qualcomm, Micron and Ford.

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Supply chain data: Bad data delivered faster is still bad data, and leads to bad decisions

CJWehlage

Supply chain dataWhen approaching the concept of knowing sooner and acting faster, and the value of concurrent planning, the most common feedback I get from supply chain executives is:

“But my data is bad… I mean, really bad.”

It doesn’t matter if they’re high tech, consumer packaged goods, aerospace, automotive, or life science. The answer is so often the same. And trust me, I’ve seen some companies whose data is worthy of a top 10 list of the worst data around, including companies where:

  • A bill of material is only 10% accurate
  • The only inventory records are ‘inventory receipt date’ and ‘inventory ship date’
  • Routings are done in 20+ Excel spreadsheets

At Kinexions ’17, our annual user conference, we’ll have a customer examine this trend of bad supply chain data in its presentation, Seeing the Light at the End of the Data Tunnel, and showcase how it changed its bad data into good. Instead of turning back to fix data first, this customer went after the gaps and process breakdowns that had previously been a black hole.

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Cutting through the hype: AI in supply chain planning

AlexaCheater

Artificial Intelligence in Supply Chain Planning There’s no getting around it. Artificial intelligence (AI) is here. From self-driving cars to intelligent digital assistants (one of whom I share a name with) to advanced robots working on the shop floor. But conspicuously absent in all this fervor around what’s new and next in AI are details and examples of how to implement these emerging technologies in supply chain planning. Everyone it seems is focusing on supply chain execution.

Don’t get caught in the spin cycle

While examples of AI and machine learning in supply chain planning are few and far between, that doesn’t mean folks aren’t making progress in this area. The trick it seems is not getting caught up in all the hype – and there’s certainly a lot of it. Nearly every company under the sun is touting their software as having advanced AI capabilities. Well it’s time for a little truth – most of those claims are just creative marketing spin (it’s ok, I work in marketing so I can say that!). There isn’t a supply chain management tool on the market today that can catapult your supply chain planning into a realm where humans are strictly hands-off.

That’s in part because AI in supply chain planning is still in its relevant infancy, but mostly because that isn’t the direction we’re heading. The robot apocalypse isn’t here. And there’s a good chance it’s never going to come. The likelihood of robots and smart machines putting everyone in the unemployment line is miniscule at best.

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Digital supply chains, AI, Blockchain and the future of work – Insights from the Gartner supply chain executive conference

Dr. MadhavDurbha

Gartner 2017The 2017 Gartner supply chain executive conference took place at the O2-Intercontinental Hotel in London on September 20th and 21st. The theme of the conference was ACT (Aspire, Challenge, Transform), same as the Gartner supply chain summit in Phoenix during May of this year. A few of the presentations in London, such as a highly provocative key note by John Philips of PepsiCo are a repeat from this prior event. I covered my observations from the May event in a previous blog. To avoid repetition, I will focus on some net new messages that resonated well with me from this event. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Tailor your supply chain to cater to diverse businesses: In his keynote, Mourad Tamoud, EVP of Global Supply Chain Operations of Schneider Electric talked about how they are segmenting their supply network based on their customer personas and purchasing behaviors. Based on how Schneider plans, delivers and executes, the following five supply chain models were defined:

a. Collaborative
b. Lean supply chain (for customers who value the economic aspects of their purchases)
c. Agile model (for the customers who value reliability above all else)
d. Project model (for high level of configurability)
e. Fully flexible

Using these different supply chain models, Schneider was able to tailor the service and the overall experience for customers by different personas/groups. The crux of his message was that the overall design and the technological enablers are equally important in enabling “tailored supply chains”.

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