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 Machine Learning, AI Are Most Impactful Supply Chain Technologies Getty Images

Machine Learning, AI Are Most Impactful Supply Chain Technologies

Supply chain executives plan to deploy or test cognitive analytics, AI/ML or digital control tower technology in the next 24 months.

End-to-end visibility continues to be the number one priority for the second consecutive year, driven by artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and cognitive analytics, according to a new report from JDA Software, Inc and KPMG LLP. 

The new survey reveals that supply chain traceability and visibility continues to be the highest investment area for supply chain executives (77%).To achieve this level of visibility, supply chain executives plan to deploy or test cognitive analytics (82%), AI/ML (62%) or digital control tower (55%) technology in the next 24 months.

Together, AI/ML technologies are viewed as the most impactful technology this year (80%) given its wide applicability and promise of addressing complex business problems across the value chain.

Cognitive/predictive analytics was also ranked highly, as 75% of respondents believe it will have a disruptive impact in the year ahead. Overall, since last year, AI has shifted into the high impact/high planned adoption quadrant for surveyed executives, confirming the importance of the impact this technology will have on supply chains in the year ahead.

Drilling down even further into how impactful AI/ML technologies are, survey respondents found the highest value use case to be the ability to optimize inventory (51%) followed by predictive distribution (45%) and optimizing distribution networks (42%) because companies need the ability to fulfill from anywhere, profitably. Cross-industry, the highest value use cases for AI were identified by respondents to be:

  • Increasing inventory and pricing accuracy for Retail
  • Improving demand forecasting for Manufacturing
  • Optimizing distribution network for Logistics

Investment Challenges and Innovation Roadblocks

Though speed-to-market was ranked as a top investment driver for 69% of respondents, resistance to change is the number one challenge to driving innovation for 42% of respondents. The inability to assess the potential of new technology has risen over the last year, indicating a disconnect between technology hype and technology value.

Executives struggle to visualize and quantify the measurable impact that a technology will have on their business. To address this, executives must underscore the measurable impact that AI/ML and cognitive analytics will have, as a true step change towards the performance of global supply chains. Providers that have a proven value delivery track record in the AI/ML space will hold a competitive advantage overcoming this challenge.

Another way executives are driving innovation is through cloud technologies. Cloud adoption is viewed as enabling speed-to-market by respondents. Sixty-four percent believe cloud helps them quickly adapt to business needs and drive business agility 2X faster than any other technology.

“Competing in a world of infinite customer choice and increasing distribution complexity will be impossible for firms that don’t upgrade their supply chain innovation and agility quotient," said Gaurav Pant, Chief Insights Officer at Incisiv. "It isn’t easy, executives are facing technology hype-cycle fatigue because the inability to map technologies to specific, practical and impactful use-cases continues to be an innovation impediment,.Leveraging advanced analytics to focus on specific use-cases, using cloud-based software to improve business agility and investing in the right talent are core ingredients to what will move the needle on innovation.”

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