COVID-19 continues to be a severe challenge for global supply chains. This year, we’re about to see bare shelves and high prices instead of Christmas gifts.
In a recent Gartner report, it appears the supply chain world is still focused on being demand-driven, which drives people to try to get the perfect plan in place. But like Steve Blank adage “no business plan survives contact with a customer,” there will never ever be a plan that addresses major weather events or unanticipated hiccups in the supply chain. This focus on generating the perfect plan prevents them from achieving resilience, or an ability to mitigate the risks of uncertainty and confront the unforeseen. This problem sharpens with COVID-19, as the pandemic has changed the need for resilience from a strategic move to an urgent tactical task.
As we approach the end of 2021, the news is still distressing: we’re witnessing a severe bottleneck all across the U.S., and consumers will be unable to purchase certain goods for Christmas. And to cope with these problems, demand-driven supply chains rather seek to overcome the current forecasting lags than seek to manage the unforeseen risks.
However, true resilience is not a survival-mode necessity but a strategic approach that harmonizes all the processes fast and proactively. And cognitive automation makes such strategic resilience happen, healing the supply chains fast and making them more future-oriented.
To help the supply chains today, the U.S. government has decided to open Canada and Mexico borders for vaccinated visitors and provide $17 billion in support for federal ports. Although these governmental incentives are helpful, they don’t solve the huge set of remaining supply chain issues.
Companies are still relying on supply chains that were built in a different era. Though they were functioning well in stable years, the current challenges combined with an enormous demand make the need for innovation inevitable. The hyperautomated and “if-then” rule-based technologies are simply helpless in such situations.
Black swan events like global pandemics and ships stuck in ports need fast and accurate reactions. But the established enterprise processes make it hard for decision makers to act accordingly. Today, supply chains need fast and reliable tools to self-heal and keep driving their business value as never before. And cognitive automation possesses all the demanded tools to be the solution.
The capabilities of cognitive automation to not only collect and crawl Big Data but also find connections between various data points through recommendations helped Unilever and Merck at the very beginning of the global lockdown. By leveraging a cognitive automation system, these companies established a value-added process in their supply chains, adopting machine learning to reduce organizational anxiety and elevating the human endeavor to search for insights within transactional systems.
COVID-19 is not the only unexpected factor supply chains deal with. Recently, Southwest Airlines had to cancel 1,800 flights due to weather and staffing problems. With technology that collects data from numerous external sources at hand, the company could either predict and prevent this situation from happening or quickly solve the problem by recommending staffing optimization.
Cognitive automation is the technology capable of this type of real-time assessment.
Once a company introduces a cognitive automation platform, demand forecasting is usually an instant benefit. And then, this tool lets supply chains change the focus from enhancing forecasts accuracy to planning onto uncertainty.
Relying on the extensive and objective data, the platform makes recommendations that help in delivering and managing orders in real-time. If something unexpected happens, the system will notify about the changed circumstances and offer a new recommendation that takes new factors into account.
As the next step towards resilience, you can automate numerous internal processes with endless automation capabilities. Thanks to the cognitive nature of cognitive automation, you can teach the system to automatically execute certain processes and save precious time, and apply manual control over more critical tasks.
Cognitive automation systems are able to make decisions faster and more accurately than humans. Empowered by AI/ML algorithms, they generate recommendations fast and accurately.
Once you decide to execute the recommendation, it will instantly notify the related machines and humans, creating a single implementation upper-layer that makes your decisions work. This way, cognitive automation establishes the basis of a sustainable and efficient enterprise, where all the critical operations and business processes are executed by a digital brain, leaving humans with strategic and creative tasks only.
Want to know more about how cognitive automation helps acclerate decision-making across the enterprise? Start here.
With cognitive automation, you can create a truly self-healing and resilient supply chain, or a system that has a real-time understanding of the entire operation and lets you think more about the future of your organization. You get an opportunity to observe the market trends and face the new crisis calmly and proactively.
That’s why cognitive automation is the tool for global supply chains to not only deal with current survival-related issues but also take over the leadership and improve the future.
Unfortunately, cognitive automation cannot solve all the current global supply chain issues, like reverting climate change, stabilizing electricity supply in Asian factories, or releasing ships stuck in U.S. ports. But this technology can help you cope with your current challenges in a better and faster way, saving time to manage more strategic problems and collect necessary information on the “black swan” event consequences the machine should analyze.
Cognitive automation helps global supply chain companies by augmenting and automating their decisions. This way, it takes over the decision making complexity, as the supply chain is no longer a simple delivery from point A to point B and doesn’t work as well today as it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sophisticated processes need sophisticated tools, and cognitive automation meets the demand. It helps supply chains save the traditional focus on effectiveness and meet the contemporary demand for resilience.