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You Can’t Fix What You Can’t See – A New Era of Supply Chain Visibility
April 28, 2020 Blog


Globally, supply chains are being tested in entirely new ways due to interruptions in production and distribution, as well as rapid shifts in consumer needs.  Even the largest global companies are realising that their supply chains are not resilient enough, with 94% of the Fortune 10001 reporting supply chain disruptions as a result of the global state of the current crisis. Experts are saying that the reverberations of the current scenario will be felt throughout the entire supply chain for the next few years.



Even before this happened, disruptions such as errors in the logistics networks, equipment failures, shortages of parts, customs delays or volatile weather conditions could adversely affect an entire business ecosystem. In a time of tremendous uncertainty, it is now more important than ever to strengthen supply chain resiliency, as even the smallest disruptions could snowball into a full-blown crisis for unprepared companies.

Is it possible to fortify the supply chain to be just as resilient as other aspects of your business? The short answer is yes, and the key to it lies in visibility.

It is essential to have accurate, connected data to drive better supply chain decisions. However, there are two challenges hindering companies from having supply chain visibility:

  1. The difficulty of making sense of growing data-sets generated across different processes, internal and external sources as well as siloed systems.
  2. The challenge of connecting and exchanging vital information across a complex ecosystem of suppliers and partners.

It all comes down to the fact that businesses are not fully utilising the data to which they already have access. In order to gain better visibility of their supply chain, it’s time for organisations to leverage the strengths of artificial intelligence (AI). This is the ability to comprehensively ingest, understand and correlate data at scales and speeds beyond human capability.

By relying on AI and analytics-driven cognitive capabilities, organisations can make sense of all the data available to them. They can cut through the data “noise” with the end goal of obtaining invaluable real-time analysis and actionable insights.

What sort of visibility can AI provide? By analysing data from various systems and sources, the biggest benefit of AI is that it can predict what is to come. For example, AI is able to connect the dots from factors such as social trends, news, weather conditions, inventory levels, supplier availability and even border crossing times to help mitigate delays and reconfigure processes and operations to steer clear of costly disruptions to the supply chain.



In other words, the visibility and foresight that comes from building a smarter supply chain allows businesses to avoid being “blindsided” by unforeseen circumstances and take steps to circumvent the worst. ¬†Leaders are shrinking average response time for supply chain disruptions from days to minutes, thanks to greater visibility.

At the end of the day, AI should be part of every organisations’ overall digitisation implementation. It will not only allow them to prepare for unexpected crises but also help them avoid being disrupted in an era where the competition is also rapidly modernising and becoming smarter.

To get further into how you can mitigate disruptions, respond quickly and build a better supply chain, download the IBM and Frost & Sullivan White Paper, “Digitally Perfecting the Supply Chain”, by clicking here.