As supply chain leaders strive to truly transform their businesses and become digital at the core, what does it take to achieve a true digital transformation?
In my conversations with supply chain leaders around the world, some common themes keep coming up: How do I plan and execute at the pace needed today? How do I find the people and technology resources to analyze the data, identify the issues, and take action? How do I make the best decisions at the moment of maximum impact, while minimizing bias and uncertainty?
Despite spending years building solutions to enhance productivity and visibility, companies simply can’t keep up with the volume and pace of decision making in today’s digital world. Labor volatility has magnified this: without enough time or people to address decision making, many decisions are left unmade – each one a missed opportunity to reduce costs, increase revenue, or mitigate potential risk.
One of our customers shared that many of his company’s past efforts at data science and digital automation – from RPA to robotics, and more – had focused on digitizing processes, or what he called “doing digital.”
The key to success, as he noted, is moving from “doing digital” to actually being digital, focusing on digitizing the decisions that must be made.
The New Competitive Advantage: Decision Automation
This is the promise of Decision Intelligence – the digitization, augmentation, and automation of decision making. Instead of relying on people to analyze data, dashboards, and information, it applies the computational power of machines and AI to do this work more quickly, and at scale.
Our platform, Aera Decision CloudTM, harmonizes data, applies decision logic, executes decisions by writing back to a company’s source systems, and learns from the outcome and context of each decision made.
This learning capability is the key to truly being digital. It provides a new source of competitive advantage by enabling automated decision making and capturing a digital memory of actions taken.
Our customers in life sciences, CPG, petrochemicals, high tech and other industries have moved from “human-in-the-loop” decision making (where users review the generated recommendations and manually accept them) to reorganizing their businesses to capitalize on real-time decision automation. These decisions range from changing suppliers based on OTIF performance, to adjusting manufacturing capacity utilization based on demand, to rerouting inventory around delays – and more.
One of our customers in consumer goods has surpassed 1 million automated recommendations, with tens of millions of dollars in increased sales thanks to improvements in replenishment and service. Another customer in life sciences reduced inventory by 10 percent, while cutting product waste by 3 percent.
The Self-Healing, Self-Taught Supply Chain
For years we’ve focused on creating self-healing supply chains that adjust to volatility – but today, we can transform supply chain ecosystems by identifying new opportunities based on what they learn.
Companies can use AI to find patterns and reveal new opportunities. For example, supply chain leaders are using Aera Decision Cloud™ on top of their digital twin technology for improved visibility, as well as the ability to detect issues and opportunities in real time.
Going forward, we’ll see the emergence of new roles and functions for supply chains and beyond. Teams of the future will include decision analysts and decision architects who will find the best ways to define, make, and execute decisions. Those team members will help companies drive innovation and improve performance.
This revolution is already happening around us.
The time to start this journey is now. Companies should begin leveraging decision automation technology to capture a permanent memory of decisions as a foundation for future learning.
With this knowledge in hand, supply chain teams can decide whether to simply capture institutional knowledge or take full advantage of Decision Intelligence to automate decisions and reveal new opportunities.
As more day-to-day decisions are automated, less time will be spent on repetitive and transactional activities – and more time on strategy, creativity, and teamwork. Companies will discover more new, innovative, and creative ways to serve customers in a more efficient, data-driven world.
About the Author
Fred Laluyaux is a thought leader on the future of work and Decision Intelligence for the enterprise. He is president and CEO of Aera Technology, a company transforming the future of work and business agility by helping supply chain leaders gain the agility and scale required to perform in today’s complex digital world. An entrepreneur at heart and a Silicon Valley veteran, Fred has an impressive track record of building successful startups and driving technology innovation, including his tenure as CEO of Anaplan which he grew from 20 to 650 employees and a $1 billion-plus valuation.