Tag Archive: artificial intelligence

The Resilient Supply Chain: Does Your Environment Support Fear?

November 27th, 2018

In today’s Amazonian environment, customers expect rapid delivery (same day/next day is preferred regardless of industry), 24/7 accessibility, easy returns, innovative collaborations and much more.  Add disruptors popping up all over (such as Uber, Netflix and more), trade war impacts and technology disruptors to entire industries (such as artifical intelligence to the accounting industry), it is quite clear we are in a new ballgame.  One of the keys to successfully navigate this environment is to rely on your people.

When it comes to your people, if they don’t feel empowered, they will not take a leap of faith and bring up ideas, test theories etc.  In essence, they need to overcome fear to rise to the occasion. What is the environment like in your office? Here are a few questions to ponder:

  1.  Will employees be shunned if they go against the grain?  For example, if employees bring up an idea that isn’t popular or one that the manager thinks puts him/her in not-as-good a light, will they get shunned?  Before leaping to the answer of “of course not”, perhaps take a second look one or two levels below you. You might find a different answer than you wish.
  2.  Is failure celebrated?  Of course, we don’t mean multiple failures repeating the same mistakes but is a single failure/learning experience celebrated?
  3.  Would failure still be celebrated if it impacts month-end numbers? Unfortunately, that is when it will occur.  It is just luck of the draw.
  4.  Is it OK to help a project team?  For example, if an employee helps a project team that requires his/her expertise even if it isn’t relevant or supportive to his boss’s success, will it be OK?  Worse yet, if this person is busy (which will always be true), is it OK if he diverts a few hours to help the project team for the greater good even if it doesn’t help his manager?  Will the manager answer the same way if he didn’t know you were listening?
  5.  Do you provide tools and training?  Some employees will take the leap on their own whereas others want the extra support to feel qualified to provide ideas and advice.  Are you willing to invest in these?
  6.  Will you provide mentoring and support? Beyond tools and training, ongoing mentoring and encouragement is needed to facilitate the process.  Whether formal or informal, do you have a process in place that provides this support?

It is definitely much harder than it appears to have your employees overcome fear when you aren’t looking.  

Are you willing to invest time and money into this effort to enable the growth of your employees and the scalable, profitable growth of your business?

 



The Resilient Supply Chain: Are You Prepared for AI & Automation?

October 6th, 2018

Will artificial intelligence and automation impact your industry?  Most likely the answer is yes. 

The only question is how. At the very minimum, you should be paying attention so you can make sure you are taking potential advancements into account in your strategy.  

In the accounting industry, AI has the opportunity to transform and automate a significant number of jobs.   Manufacturing has already been impacted by automation. Of course, it is likely to continue to evolve and it has the potential to transform the logistics industry. 

Here are a few potential applications:

  1.  Instructions – Artificial intelligence certainly seems to come in handy when it comes to fixing issues and reviewing instructions.   
  2.  E-Commerce – AI certainly helps to find like-products and complimentary products when purchasing through an e-commerce portal.   
  3.  Intelligent Virtual Assistant – AI can learn how you respond to tasks and requests and answer for you with repeatable and mundane tasks.
  4.  HR Recruiting – Although arguably not as good as an excellent recruiter, AI can find qualified candidates and eliminate legwork in the recruiting task.
  5.  Autonomous Vehicles– Starting within the plant and expanding to trucks and elsewhere, autonomous vehicles are being used to increase efficiencies and reduce risks.
  6.  Robotic Picking Systems – This is one of the largest risks in current logistics operations.  Just as manufacturing has been automating, so will logistics operations. It will be a ‘win’ for costs, efficiencies and speed.  Are you prepared?
  7.  Maintenance – Why go through the long and arduous “old school” view of preventative maintenance when you can look at data and predict exactly what needs to be maintained before it breaks down?
  8.  Customer Demand – The better data on customer demand, the better the entire supply chain can run – quick, efficient and low cost.  
  9.  Repetitive Tasks – Anything that is repetitive is a good candidate to automate.  It will be more repeatable with more consistent quality and at a lower cost.  Are you looking for opportunities?

Look beyond what will directly impact your company.  Review impacts to your end-to-end supply chain. What is likely to disrupt your customers?  How about your suppliers? What can you do to get in front of it?  Thinking ahead and taking action could provide set you apart and provide you with significant opportunity.

 



Top Technologies for 2018

January 5th, 2018

vendor managed inventory

 

Technology Creating Business Value
We have never been believers in technology for technology’s sake – or, worse yet, FADS. However, there are some top technologies to keep an eye on in 2018 if you plan to create business value.  Not only are my most successful and progressive clients thinking about these technologies, but they are investing to leapfrog the competition.

What to Watch

  1. Artificial intelligence (AI)- Who can argue with the potential power of this technology?  It is saying something when my mom said her Amazon Alexa was the best gift she ever received (even though she only uses the alarm functionality).  Imagine how AI might transform entire industries (such as accounting) and functions (machinery and equipment maintenance).

  2. Blockchain – Although still in early stages, blockchain has the potential to transform high stakes transactions using a shared, secured, synchronized and immutable ledger.   

  3. IoT (the Internet of Things) – In today’s interconnected world, you cannot get away from connected devices.  We take them for granted.  The ultimate (which seems to be viable by 2020) is self-driving trucks.  Imagine the connections required to turn this concept into a reality. Yet, testing is already underway – and quite successful.  

  4. Predictive Analytics There is immense power in not only sifting through mounds of data rapidly and efficiently to pick out the trends and highlights, but taking that a step forward with predictive analytics is a game-changer.  Are you thinking about how to integrate predictive analytics into your decision-making processes?

  5. ERP and CRM Although tried and true, these “must have” technologies are no longer advantages. If you are interested in profitable, scalable growth, you’ll put these two topics on your strategic priority list.  

Your Edge
Customers expect you to be ahead of them, are you?



Leveraging Technology for Supply Chain Success

November 11th, 2017

Supply Chain Briefing

My APICS Inland Empire chapter hosted our 11th executive panel and networking symposium on Leveraging Technology for Supply Chain Success.  We had interesting discussions with top notch panelists spanning the end-to-end supply chain from Disney to OceanX.  The panel covered diverse supply chain topics such as autonomous vehicles and machine learning – thanks to  Terrie Dean, Craig Young, Stephen Richie, Thomas Jelenic and Matt Weinberg .  The event was a complete success thanks in large part to our Board of Directors (pictured below) – Valerie Ladd, Kevin Manning, Lisa Anderson, Parizad Sethna, Phil Elhai, Pamela Scrivner , Tony Martinez, Kate Loin-Barron, and Helen Arambulo.    

The Impact Technology is Having on our Economy
It is compelling to think about the BIG impact technology is having on manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and more.  Robots are taking over several aspects of manufacturing and distribution to speed up the process and reduce costs, so that we can be more competitive and successful in Southern California.  Have you thought about what this could mean to our economy?  Machine learning and artificial intelligence is also prevalent.  What could we accomplish by having the “right” data at the “right” time in the “right” place?  The down-the-line impacts of the strategic use of data are staggering.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Leveraging technology for supply chain success is a vast topic. So, it makes sense to start by absorbing the relevance and importance of the topic.  Our most successful clients are constantly looking for ways to leverage technology to not only deliver products and services more quickly (think the Amazon effect) but also to remain viable from a cost perspective.  Have you thought about the value that can be gained by IoT?  The internet of things can capture data so that repair folks can be ahead of the game, parts can be available much more quickly, items can talk to one another (such as cars to traffic lights) and much more.  

The least we should do is be aware of the dramatic impacts technology could have on our businesses and to our customer experience.  Have you considered how to utilize technology to stand out from the crowd and deliver exceptional service so that your customers don’t even think of buying from anyone other than you?  Can you utilize data to better understand their needs?  Can you use technology to provide additional value?  What else could you do?  Gather your team and brainstorm.  Involve your customers in the conversation as well.  

Let me know how it goes.   

 



Logistics Innovation – Where is it Going?

November 10th, 2017

The global logistics industry will grow from its current hefty size of $8 trillion to $23 trillion by 2023 – what a sharp contrast!  Have you thought about how to be viable with these massive shifts going on?  If not, you sure should as it is coming and will just pass you by.

 

Key Aspects in Upcoming Logistics Innovation
What is noteworthy in logistics innovation?  Several keys to success include:

  1. Interestingly, blockchain arose again.  It could completely change the landscape, so it’s worth paying attention.
  2. Next generation technology and machine learning – there is more and more discussion on this topic everyday.  This gets into artificial intelligence, as well.   
  3. Autonomous vehicles – last we heard, it will be here by 2020.  Time flies – undoubtedly, it will be here before we realize it.  There is vast opportunity to address a critical component of speed in the supply chain – keep trucks moving more frequently to deliver goods more quickly in a safe and automated way with minimal human intervention.  It isn’t all theory; there are road tests being performed in Southern California in conjunction with governmental entities.
  4. Capacity aggravation / visibility – there is a large potential for this topic.  One example is in reviewing large amounts of data for carriers.  Convoy has built an app to match trucking companies with shippers that need to move freight.  The speaker talked about how they could even tell which trucker might be interested in a particular route or to get home for a special occasion.  Very interesting!

Disruption and Progress
There is vast disruption with emerging technologies in this rapidly growing $8 trillion dollar industry.  Perhaps we should pay attention.