Over a year and a half ago, an article in Forbes discussed the rising success of touchless planning among supply chain leaders who were early adopters. Recently, Deloitte showed how emerging technologies can be the foundation for the journey towards touchless networks. If trends hold, we will achieve touchless supply chains in the very near future.
Process automation works well when there’s a well-defined process and everything runs predictably. However, with the number of business disruptions increasing on a regular basis across the United States and the global supply chain, these automation tools frequently fall down. What is needed is the ability to make better and faster decisions when changes occur for solid business reasons. That’s why cognitive automation is at the core of touchless planning by augmenting and automating decision making when these exceptions occur.
The technology behind cognitive automation involves sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms that enable a touchless planning option for supply chains. Under the hood, the cognitive automation platform uses Google-like data crawlers to aggregate data from internal, external, and physical sources. It then harmonizes and enriches the data into an enterprise data model that is the real-time representation of your supply chain operations. This information provides the history and context to help make your future decisions. This way, touchless planning maintains the high-quality bar for each data point considered.
With the cognitive automation platform, humans can make decisions faster as the most tedious, responsible, and time-consuming tasks of data gathering and analysis are taken over by the machine. In this regard, supply chain executives can cut days and weeks on getting to the final decision point and concentrate on the strategic areas, such as negotiations and supply relationships. This situation is a win-win, as the platform reveals its best data aggregation and processing, while humans can trace unexpected connections in this carefully collected data set.
Whenever you find something unusual in the data, there is no more need to spend weeks on dozens of meetings and product reports. Whether it’s a lack of raw materials or a sales drop or a critical forecast, the cognitive automation platform can reach into the power of data and adopt enhanced analytics tools to take over poring over the data to deliver recommendations accurately and within minutes.
Touchless planning with cognitive automation can change the way supply chains work at its core. Instead of spending hours drawing forecasts from sales history, reviewing inventory movements, and manually documenting recommendations, supply chain managers can focus on the results of these activities. The cognitive automation platform will evaluate and compare all the relevant factors for sales, detect potential effects of market trends, and generate automatic recommendations to act upon.
In this reality, executives can work with actionable recommendations only, which increases the number of decisions they can make per day. In return, this capability creates the baseline for true decision intelligence and velocity, one of the most critical factors for supply chain agility.
Given the frequent appearance of black swan events and the general unpredictability of supply chain disruptions, supply chains need to search for new tools and approaches that work effectively in the new reality. Traditional planning that primarily uses historical data goes out the window if the business environment shifts for whatever reason. Because of this, touchless planning is a way to bring agility to supply chain planning in the most effective and comprehensive way.
Cognitive automation makes a significant impact - bringing in several improvements in the decision-making process that make the transition to a touchless supply chain as controlled and careful as possible. The platform integration involves close attention to collecting and systematizing all the accurate information for business-critical decisions, applying the latest AI and ML models, and composing capabilities for specific decision-making use cases.
Touchless planning is not instant magic. It’s a long, but rewarding digital transformation journey to apply technology to unlock decision velocity and business agility in your entire supply chain giving you the competitive advantage.