Breaking through obstacles to achieve greater impact
Overcoming these obstacles isn’t easy—but it must happen for AI to scale and deliver genuine business value. In our experience, three things can help minimize the roadblocks and allow AI to flourish across the enterprise.
1. Strategy and road map: plotting the destination and how to get there
The first thing a company needs for AI to have a large-scale impact is a clear and integrated vision of where the enterprise wants to go with AI—its North Star, so to speak. It can’t be limited to one function, department, or business unit—that’s the antithesis of scaling. Also critical is the ability to translate this vision into the major initiatives the company must executive to achieve the end goal. Both are vital to taking the subsequent steps to build the foundation that enables a company to realize short- and long-term value from AI and, importantly, to get C-level buy-in to fund such a mega-investment.
2. Cloud: harnessing data for a single and trusted source of truth
AI and advanced analytics can process massive and diverse data sets from all functions to provide better visibility across the supply chain. But with more data sources, more computational power and more server capacity will be needed. With the cloud, a company can connect this data to create one single and trusted source of truth. The cloud also enables organizations to tap into new data sources to extend and enhance visibility and, thus, create greater opportunities for AI to deliver value.
3. Talent: building and buying the right skills
As mentioned earlier, many companies find they don’t have the right talent in place to successfully scale the use of AI in supply chain. In fact, Accenture research found that only 38% of supply chain executives feel their workforce is ready to leverage the technology provided to them. Thus, upskilling or reskilling people to be proficient in applying AI to specific use cases that generate significant value is absolutely vital to the scaling of AI.
Ecosystem partners such as technology vendors and consulting firms also can be great sources of important skills, supplying talent who can augment a company’s existing employees where needed. Such companies have already gone through the steep learning curve required to scale AI and learned the lessons. Their insights and guidance can be extremely valuable in helping companies through what’s often a difficult and complex undertaking.
The future of intelligent, self-driving supply chain networks
Intelligent technologies and connected end-to-end data, when combined and scaled, can add immense value to any company’s supply chain. The combination unifies the supply chain, creates new efficiencies and operational capabilities, and unlocks capital to reinvest in new business models that enrich customer experiences, build competitive advantage, and support profitable growth.
Longer term, this powerful combination of technologies and data will fuel a shift toward truly self-driving supply chain networks—which take value and innovation to a whole new level.
AI can automate demand planning, supply planning, inventory optimization, and execution with a focus on making decisions automatically, without human intervention (i.e., a shift from human driving the machines to machines guided by the humans). Meanwhile, ML enables self-learning, predicting, prescribing, and optimizing supply chain performance automatically across functions. And in a self-driving supply chain, automation can flag and resolve exceptions in real time—for example, ML-based algorithms can predict exceptions and supply chain outcomes and if the process changes over time, cognitive computing learns and adapts to it.
AI truly has the potential to transform any supply chain—and in today’s environment, such a transformation isn’t an option anymore. With the right combination of people, processes, and technology, companies can stop piloting AI and start scaling it so the supply chain network can begin to realize its full potential value—both in the short term and longer term.
Explore how Accenture can help power more intelligent supply chains with analytics and AI. Visit www.accenture.com/ai