Artificial Intelligence: The next big thing in Supply Chain Management

Imagine the endless possibilities of learning from 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated every day. Artificial intelligence (AI), which began its journey 60 years ago is well on its course to make this implausible scenario a reality. Artificial Intelligence, is slowly taking over our lives.

From personal assistants like Siri in Apple products to stock trading to medical diagnosis, AI is able to learn from seemingly unstructured data, take decisions and perform actions in a way previously unimagined.

Businesses too are undergoing digitization rapidly. They are using AI – capable of performing tasks normally requiring human intelligence – to create a significant impact in the way businesses operate. In an increasingly dynamic environment comprising demanding customers and the need for speed, it was only a matter of time before the businesses embraced AI to obtain much needed agility. According to Accenture’s Technology Vision 2016 survey spanning 11 countries and 12 industries, 70 percent of corporate executives said they are significantly increasing investments in AI.

Artificial Intelligence in Supply Chain

Organizations are increasingly digitizing their supply chains to differentiate and drive revenue growth. According to Accenture’s digital operations survey 85 percent of organizations have adopted/ will adopt digital technologies in their supply chain within 1 year.

The key implication of this change is that the supply chains are generating massive amounts of data. AI is helping organizations analyze this data, gain a better understanding of the variables in the supply chain and helping them anticipate future scenarios. Thus, the use of AI in supply chains is helping businesses innovate rapidly by reducing the time to market and evolve by establishing an agile supply chain capable of foreseeing and dealing with uncertainties.

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A Harvest of Company Details, All in One Basket

A Harvest of Company Details, All in One Basket

Trolling government records for juicy details about companies and their executives can be a ponderous task. I often find myself querying the websites of multiple federal agencies, each using its own particular terminology and data forms, just for a glimpse of one company’s business.

But a few new services aim to reduce that friction not just for reporters, but also for investors and companies that might use the information in making business decisions. One site, rankandfiled.com, is designed to make company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission more intelligible. It also offers visitors an instant snapshot of industry relationships, in a multicolored “influence” graph that charts the various companies in which a business’s officers and directors own shares. According to the site, pooh-bahs at Google, for example, have held shares in Apple, Netflix, LinkedIn, Zynga, Cisco, Amazon and Pixar.

Another site, Enigma.io, has obtained, standardized and collated thousands of data sets — including information on companies’ lobbying activities and their contributions to state election campaigns — made public by federal and state agencies. Starting this weekend, the public will be able to use it, at no charge, to seek information about a single company across dozens of government sources at once.

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Apple’s challenges in ensuring fair treatment of workers in complex supply chains

Bloomberg has a lengthy piece illustrating just how great a challenge it is for Apple and other multinational companies to ensure the fair treatment of workers in complex supply chains.

When one of Apple’s suppliers like Flextronics wins a new contract, it needs to take on additional workers – lots of them, and fast. Those workers are recruited through employment brokers, which are required to adhere to Apple’s rules. But many of them are brought in from other countries, like Malaysia and Nepal.

Alok Taparia, the managing director of Transworld Manpower, another of the four Nepalese brokers retained for that drive, says he was given clear instructions: Workers shouldn’t be charged; Flextronics would pay the brokers. But Taparia and the other Nepalese brokers say Flextronics demanded so many men so quickly that there was no way to do it without tapping the country’s network of subagents, stretching into Himalayan villages reachable only by foot. As Apple itself has described in reports on its supply chain, the subagents always charge…

Workers recruited from neighbouring countries can end up needing to pay several layers of agents and sub-agents for their jobs. Without the cash to do so, they take on loans – and are required to surrender their passports as security. The piece says that Apple’s attempts to deal with this are proving less successful over time.

Labor demand surge remains a challenge to our supply chain today. Feel free to contact us, if you need help with your supply chain.

Reference: Apple’s challenges in ensuring fair treatment of workers in complex supply chains

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More iPhone 5c Supply Chain Rumors

More iPhone 5c Supply Chain Rumors

This article talks about a major challenge to supply chain planning. To have ample supply of iPhone 5s and 5c, how many does Apple need to plan and what is the production mix between the 2 models?

Steve Jobs‘ idea was to take the simple route by planning for one iPhone model only and focused on getting the best product to consumers. Tim Cook takes a different but traditional approach by introducing two models instead of one. He hope a cheaper model of 5c would attract more buyers, at least from the Asia. At least, this what the production plan tells us at the moment. The production plans for more 5c than 5s.

Contrary to what Tim expected, consumers would rather spend money buying the expense model 5s with new technology than buying the cheaper model 5c with previous generation of technology. This is why Apple needs to dramatically decrease 5c production and increase 5s production. This shows a supply chain planning mistake. It totally mis-calculates consumer demand by having a wrong product mix.

Check out this article for the challenges that Apple is facing and how we can help you to manage your supply chain.

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