Data And AI Set To Transform Retail Supply Chains

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Guest Blog: Craig Sears-Black, Chief Executive of EV Cargo Technology

It once belonged in the realms of science fiction, but today artificial intelligence (AI) plays such an integral role in our daily lives that most of us don’t even notice it’s there, while all the time generating vast quantities of data.

In recent years AI systems have been developed to utilise this data in increasingly sophisticated ways, none more so than in the field of retail. As more of us shop online, so AI is used to transform our experience with personalisation, automation and increased efficiency.

But advanced technologies now also play a pivotal role in the operation of the modern retail supply chain, helping dictate how goods reach retailers. Although AI was identified as being a game-changer more than ten years ago, its limitations had not then been fully grasped and the industry wasn’t aware of the large amounts of quality data required for it to be effective. It’s only when industry-wide data can be combined that technologies such as machine learning and neural networks can be applied effectively.

However, after a huge amount of groundwork, the foundations have now been built to obtain the volume and quality of data required to support the development of AI in supply chains.

“Businesses have recognised the value of their data and its potential to solve the complexities of running a global logistics network,” says Craig Sears-Black, chief executive of EV Cargo Technology. “They have become considerably better at accessing data and now better understand how to incorporate AI into everyday work tasks to augment human decision-making.

“This next decade will be about harnessing AI and placing our trust in technology to make the correct decisions. This will evolve over the next decade, gradually moving from a recommendation that requires human sign-off, to limited automation if certain conditions are met. As the tech proves itself over time, it will take on more and more automated decisions.

EV Cargo Technology has been providing supply chain software solutions for more than 25 years and is used by many of today’s leading global and high street retailers.

“As an example, AI can use shipping data, combine it with predicted volumes, weather forecasts and emerging disruptive events and recommend that the shipment should be re-routed via an alternative port, saving significant transit time and costs,” explains Craig. “Initially, someone will review and approve this recommendation but eventually AI will make greater decisions on the retailer’s behalf.

“That extends to re-routing and re-prioritising shipments based on changing stock position or trends. If a retailer’s forecasting system says they’ll sell more stock, AI will be able to suggest and decide on changes to the transport mode and route, taking demand and costs fully into consideration.”

“Technology will also find greater applications within product sourcing. Considering information stored about factories, supplier reliability in terms of on-time and quality, cost price and time taken to market, AI can weigh all those elements and recommend the best supplier for that particular product.

“It will never fully replace the buyer but, for basic products with consistent sales, AI could monitor stock and sales and re-order automatically. Or with access to sales and inventory information, re-prioritise shipments of product to ensure optimum stock levels.”

Improving visibility, reducing friction, encouraging collaboration and promoting compliance are just some of the ways EV Cargo Technology has helped clients transform their supply chains. The benefits are both tangible and significant: increased sales through improved availability, an increase in profitability and reductions in inventory, logistics and overall operating costs.

“Technology is ramping up efficiencies in network planning and predictive demand, allowing retailers to become more proactive,” added Craig. “Advances in AI and analytics will enhance the ability of the technology to predict outcomes and mitigate potential impacts.”

So is full automation just around the corner? Not in the next ten years, according to Craig, who says that issues over trust in the technology and decision-making mean human input will remain, at least for now.

He adds: “Data is one of a company’s most valuable assets and there’s no doubt that AI-supported analytics is set to take a huge leap forward over the next ten years in helping unlock the true potential of that data – interpreting it and intuitively directing attention to where it is most needed.”

EV Cargo Technology works with retailers to monitor their supply chain networks and design, build, test, and deploy optimum supply chain management systems for each organisation’s individual needs. They  work to improve business processes through connecting the entire trading community, giving a platform to thrive by efficiently collaborating with external partners, and managing the complete supply chain with full transparency, efficiency and cost effectiveness

With over 25 years’ experience in delivering supply chain intelligence, EV Cargo Technology has a global client base spanning across America, Europe, South Africa, and Australasia. For more information, visit: www.evcargotech.com

 

 

 

Upskilling Supply Chain Professionals for a Sustainable Future

By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

This week, I attended the GreenBiz 20 conference, which enables sustainability-focused professionals to explore business trends and develop recommendations for better organizational accountability and reporting. Those of us who participated in the supply chain track identified a number of tactics for aligning sustainability goals with supply chain activities. Two key strategies were enhanced cross-training and ongoing professional development.

Indeed, as global supply chains contend with extreme social, economic and ecological change, investing in our people becomes ever-more crucial. As World Economic Forum (WEF) President Børge Brende writes, “Valuing human capital not only serves to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to respond to systemic shifts, it also empowers them to take part in creating a more equal, inclusive and sustainable world.”

According to the WEF’s Future of Jobs Report, 75 million jobs in 20 major economies will be displaced by 2022. Meanwhile, as many as 133 million new roles will emerge to meet the demands of this ongoing transformation.

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These points are underpinned by PwC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey, which reveals the opinions of about 1,600 chief executives from 83 countries. Two central themes that surfaced from the research were upskilling and climate change.

According to the report, the key forces driving the upskilling imperative include automation, less availability of talent, reduced mobility of skilled labor and the aging workforce. “One reality is clear,” the report states, “increases in automation, changes in demographics and new regulations will make it much harder for organisations to attract and retain the skilled talent they need to keep pace with the speed of technological change. They will have to grow their own future workforce.”

Importantly, the CEOs who have embraced upskilling report benefits including stronger corporate culture and employee engagement, greater ability to attract and retain workers, heightened levels of innovation, and enhanced productivity.

“Our current approach can’t continue,” Siemens U.S. CEO Barbara Humpton told PwC. “We don’t have nearly enough qualified applicants to hire because of the technical knowledge required. So we’re going to be training a lot of non-engineers to do jobs engineers would have done in the past.”

The CEOs surveyed also recognize the risk and opportunity of climate change, noting that related initiatives can lead to significant new product and service opportunities, as well as reputational advantages and financial incentives. A recent CNN article validates these findings, reporting that asset-management superpower BlackRock is putting sustainability “at the center of its approach to investing.” The firm currently oversees $7 trillion in investments, but soon will abandon any holdings considered to be a sustainability risk.

“Awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance,” CEO Larry Fink stated in his January 2020 letter to CEOs.

The potential of our people

Today’s investments in talent set our supply chain organizations on an equal, inclusive and sustainable path to the future. At ASCM, we are here to support you in this effort, with a wide array of professional development programs, including APICS certifications and a body of knowledge that has been the global standard in supply chain learning and development for more than 60 years.

Companies around the world recognize the APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management; Certified Supply Chain Professional; and Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution designations. These credentials offer forward-looking, transformational education that will position your employees for ongoing success. Learn more about how you can cultivate and support your workforce with this essential learning and development.

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Seek Out These 10 Qualities for Ongoing Career Success

By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

Do you know which skills are most vital to your professional future? More importantly, do you possess them?

According to the new World Economic Forum (WEF) report, “The Future of Jobs,” the top 10 proficiencies and workforce strategies for 2020 and beyond are

  1. complex problem-solving
  2. critical thinking
  3. creativity
  4. people management
  5. coordinating with others
  6. emotional intelligence
  7. judgement and decision-making
  8. service orientation
  9. negotiation
  10. cognitive flexibility.

These findings were derived from chief human resources and strategy officers at leading global employers. The executives were asked about current shifts in business and what they mean for employment, skills and recruitment across industries and geographies.

“By 2020, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have brought us advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics,” says WEF senior writer Alex Gray. “These developments will transform the way we live and the way we work. Some jobs will disappear, others will grow, and jobs that don’t even exist today will become commonplace.”

Although AI tackles many challenges that people cannot, machines are less likely to decipher complicated puzzles that are not clearly defined or span multiple industries. This is why complex problem-solving tops the WEF list. Likewise, critical thinking is a strictly human capability that enables us to process, visualize and make connections in a world of ambiguity and nuance.

With the constant influx of new technologies, it’s no wonder that creativity is among the top three skills. “Robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as humans,” Gray explains, adding that negotiation and cognitive flexibility are at the bottom of the list because machines are increasingly making our decisions for us. In fact, 45% of WEF survey respondents believe AI will sit on company boards of directors by 2026.

“The future workforce will need to align its skillset to keep pace,” Gray writes. “Change won’t wait for us: Business leaders, educators and governments all need to be proactive in upskilling and retraining.”

The next five years

Something I found particularly interesting while reading the WEF report was the comparison between today’s top 10 and the list from just five years ago. While many skills were fairly comparable, others shifted dramatically (creativity). Some appeared for the first time (emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility), and some fell off the list altogether (quality control and active listening).

In ASCM’s 2019 Supply Chain Salary and Career Survey Report, 82% of respondents said they are likely to remain in the field for the next five years. As these people continue on their professional journeys, I can’t help but wonder what competences the supply chain careers of the future will demand of them. Indeed, our report revealed that job stability is strong — with about 75% of respondents either remaining in their current positions or being promoted last year — but what must supply chain professionals do to keep on this positive trajectory?

ASCM will explore these questions and many more with our 2020 Supply Chain Salary and Career Survey Report. Based on the findings, we will continue to revise and update our content to ensure you have all of the latest skills that employers are seeking. I invite you to add your perspectives as we collect this important data in order to better understand, inform and advance the global supply chain community. Take the survey here before January 31.

Abe Eshkenazi will give a keynote address at MEGATRANS, Melbourne on 1 April 2020 as a special host to ASCI. To register, visit: https://www.megatrans.com.au

Dominating the CSCP

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At the beginning of the year, I decided to pursue the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) designation. In July, I sat for the exam and passed, which has led to my receiving countless questions about my journey. This article is intended to provide anyone considering earning this certification with all the lessons learned, tips and answers needed to be successful.

Preparation

There are two options for exam preparation: self-study or classroom courses. For me, self-study was the best method of learning and most cost effective. The self-study option includes three books, flashcards, online practice quizzes and exams, and access to the highly regarded APICS Dictionary.

APICS Premier Channel Partner, Australasian Supply Chain Institute, has a bundle deal! The total cost of all the online content and printed materials, week nightly two hour online sessions with a qualified APICS facilitator in Australia, an exam and an exam retake is $4,370 for ASCI PLUS members. The week nightly sessions commence in 23 September 2019. Don’t miss out!

Your own preparation method decision warrants more than just comparing prices. Honestly assess your levels of motivation and dedication to push yourself through 1,500 pages. The online classes will be your discipline! Be wise!

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The APICS CSCP Learning System

A connection of mine reached out to me on the ASCM discussion boards, asking if he could sneak through the exam without reading through the aforementioned material. My response: “There’s no need to sit for the exam without the APICS Learning System material. You failed.”

Honestly, unless you’re an industry titan, the chance of passing without the Learning System is razor thin.

The best way to utilize this system is to follow it sequentially. Assess yourself before you begin reading through the material by taking the pre-test. If you score above 30%, you’re doing better than I did. A low score should not discourage you, but motivate you!

Now that you know where you stand, read an entire module. Complete the end-of-section progress checks. After you’ve finished a module, return to the quizzes and take all of them. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to avoid memorizing answers. The exam is strictly based on comparison between terms. Use these quizzes to both understand which answer is correct and comprehend why others are incorrect.

Finally, take the post-test and score above an 80% to earn your congratulatory letter.

Flash cards

Write flash cards by hand or in a word-processing program. Memorizing hundreds of key words may zap the enthusiasm out of us all, but writing them even just once helps with retention. Treat this as another type of homework, and it will pay off at exam time.

How long will it take?

Everyone has different levels of experience and learning ability, but a good rule of thumb is your CSCP journey will be a minimum of three months. I began mine in March and tested in July. Along the way, I highly recommend at least touching the material daily. Putting it off for a week and rushing to catch up puts unnecessary stress on you and hinders your ability to learn.

Exam format

The exam has 150 questions. Of those, 130 are operational and 20 are pre-test (not counted). You will have 3 ½ hours to finish. There will be two answers that fit and two that are clearly incorrect. Do you know what the difference between third- and fourth-party logistics? Can you quickly state the triple bottom line? How does a make-to-stock manufacturing organization respond when demand forecasting predicts increased demand due to economic growth?

The exam will question your knowledge of minor variations between two terms (3PL/4PL), if you clearly understand what makes up a term (TBL), and if you understand how one key word is changed by a variable.

Scoring

Scores range from 200-350:

  • Fail – 200-299
  • Pass – 300-350

The questions all carry a hidden weight based on difficulty. The three modules require about a 70% or higher to pass.

Parting tips

Put in the time. Read the books at least once, preferably twice. Write down all of the flashcards. Take the quizzes slowly to gain comprehension. On test day, go slowly and flag questions you simply have no idea how to answer. I flagged a question during my exam and proceeded on. Roughly 30 questions later, something triggered that gave me the answer to the one that had stumped me!

Hope this is helpful to all of you aspiring CSCP designees!

By Michael Nichols, CSCP

Challenges and Opportunities for ASCI as a Professional Accreditation Body

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In its quest towards Professionalising Supply Chain Management, any organisation that attempts to develop a formal professional accreditation scheme in this industry is typically challenged by the fact that Supply Chain Managers are often not on the workforce radar. Supply chain management is still not sufficiently recognised as one of the key components of the execution of corporate strategy and there is still a huge under representation on the executive level.

Supply Chain Managers face unique challenges such as the absence of clearly defined educational pathways that would result in recognised credentials; incomplete or lack of appropriate job descriptions; limited opportunities for Continuous Professional Development; and sometimes, very indistinct career paths.

The industry to date, does not have a Professional Accreditation Body that can work with industry to address these challenges in Supply Chain Management. ASCI has now fully established itself as the Professional Accreditation Body for the Supply Chain Industry.

The opportunities 

ASCI has developed a set of standards and a professional framework that will enhance the quality of the Supply Chain workforce. It will focus entirely on enhancing public trust and confidence in Supply Chain Managers, enable compliance with regulatory or legal requirements across the Supply Chain and enhance the status of Supply Chain Management as a career path.

Through its Ethics Management Program, it will guide the behaviour of Practitioners in the Supply Chain domain, especially when it comes to morally or ethically ambiguous activities.

ASCI, in collaboration with industry, will establish and standardise roles (and the associated knowledge, skills, and abilities) and pathways to better align supply and demand of Supply Chain Professionals and Practitioners, increase awareness of career paths, and facilitate recruitment and retention by employers.

ASCI has developed a Professional Accreditation Scheme that offers its members Professional Recognition of Competence towards Professional and Practitioner Registration.

To become registered or to join a professionalisation committee, please contact the ASCI National Office today at professionalisation@asci.org.au or visit our website: https://www.asci.org.au/professionalising-supply-chain-management

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Dr Pieter Nagel is Head of Professionalisation at Australasian Supply Chain Institute

 

 

 

The Power of Partnerships: Why customer-centric alliances are the future for all businesses

Simon Arch

Guest blogger: Simon Arch, Alliances Director, JDA Software ANZ

It’s no secret that most successful businesses around the world have customers at the centre of everything they do. In fact research by Deloitte and Touche discovered customer-centric businesses were 60 percent more profitable compared to companies that weren’t focused on the customer.[1]But how can companies create genuine partnerships with other businesses which put the customer at the centre of everything and why is this critical for business growth?

In my role, I am responsible for developing an ecosystem of partners that together provide the best value and best possible customer outcome. Together with a carefully selected group of partners, we develop aligned go-to-market strategies to present to prospective customers to help their businesses succeed.

It sounds easy, right? Wrong! It’s a constant juggle of individual personalities, goals and emotions. I often describe my role as part marriage broker and part marriage counsellor (!) as I get caught up in working with egos, changing business priorities, shifting budget expectations and quality of delivery.

The ongoing challenge I face on a daily basis is educating prospective partners and customers that no single business can provide all that’s required to deliver a successful outcome. There is no ‘one size fits all’ anymore. The problems we face are getting more complex and the end customer’s expectations are increasing all the time.

Our goal is to help our clients to understand they will get better value by bringing together each and every supplier. We find that’s a significant challenge, to set the customer’s expectations that there’ll be multiple stakeholders involved from day one. This is often a big cultural shift – customers have always dealt with just one supplier, why would they need to work with three or four? Once they see the value of working with a combined team of specialist suppliers though, the fears disappear.

Other challenges we face are to find the appropriate partners for the specific customer we’re working with and having enough partners with the right skills. We invest significant time in finding the partners, developing and training them on our software and keeping up with the demand as we grow our business. We’re always scanning the market and keeping our ear to the ground to find new partners.

We recognise that if we can combine in-depth industry and consulting knowledge with the technical knowledge from us about our software, then we’ll have a partnership made in heaven where we are able to expedite the solution and the deployment for the customer.

We also have an ongoing assessment of all our business partners, we often discover partners which may have been great years ago, may have changed industries or capabilities and may not be the right fit anymore.

The main things to consider before partnering with another business are to determine what or who is a useful partner? Is it one that has industry knowledge, technical capability or customer base? Alignment with your company is critical. A hunger to win business and a passion for the industry are key things I look for, but they are difficult things to discover without exploring the partnership first. Another point to consider is commitment – commitment to work with you and vice versa. We’re ultimately looking for a match of skills, passion and culture.

My top four tips for businesses who are looking to expand their alliance network and create a successful customer-centric partnership approach are:

  1. Carefully understand your requirements. Consider is it a gap in your own skills or is it a gap in your existing partner network? Analyse this carefully at the beginning.
  2. Work out what their capability is like. Do they have enough capacity to grow with you? Don’t forget technical delivery capacity.
  3. When you do find partners, prioritise, make sure you engage on every different level in their business from executive level engagement to the sales team and the technical delivery teams.
  4. Pick and choose who you are going to approach (potential customers) very carefully as partners like to see successes. When partners see that the partnership is working they are much more likely to want to do more repeat business with you.

Remember, action and patience are key when it comes to business partnerships.  At some point there will be issues – even from your own team – so you’ll need to counsel the stakeholders and above all be very patient. But when customer-centric alliances work well they can mean the difference between a thriving growing business and one which is going nowhere fast.

Visit: https://jda.com

[1]https://www.superoffice.com/blog/how-to-create-a-customer-centric-strategy/?insvid=16a24ae7840993e7–1555393641677

How Ingersoll Rand Revives Exhausted Products

By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

Industrial manufacturer Ingersoll Rand (IR) has long positioned itself as a company that prioritises efficiency, energy savings and productivity. As its website states, “With principled leadership and ethical business practices, our high-engagement culture delivers enduring results that lead to a sustainable world.” Recently, IR saw potential to create added value by helping its customers meet their own environmental challenges. As a result, company leaders are taking the conservation philosophy to a new level.

IR’s sustainability commitment includes the extremely ambitious goal of reducing not its own, but its customers’ carbon emissions by 1 gigaton by 2030. Greenbiz’s Heather Clancy reports that this is equivalent to the annual emissions produced by Italy, France and the United Kingdom combined. Much of the plan revolves around remanufacturing end-of-life equipment. (Read more after advertising)

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“[IR] has operated an aftermarket service organization in Charlotte, North Carolina, since 1974,” Clancy writes. “After all, many metals used to make its Trane heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment have a demonstrable value, and there are well-established processes for recovering it. But in more recent years, the 183,000-square-foot operation … has become involved with activities focused on a different sort of mission: keeping older equipment in the field for as long as possible.”

Scott Tew, executive director for IR’s Center of Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, told Greenbiz that the company is focused on the concept of a “customer for life.” He recounts the story of a historic hotel in Portland, Oregon, that needed to upgrade its Trane HVAC system but had limited access to remove and replace failing equipment. Engineers disassembled and transported components back to Charlotte for repair, then reinstalled them in the exact same footprint as the original system. IR expects them to continue functioning for decades.

IR says it will fully support this environmental strategy moving forward. In fact, the company has established a new-product-development requirement that directs engineers to design for sustainability. As Clancy writes, “That includes both efficiency considerations and materials choices.”

Far-reaching results

For years, IR has looked to the APICS body of knowledge as a source of best practices, the primary method for getting employees speaking the same language and a key method for working toward a unified supply chain strategy. In fact, the company adopted a policy that required all materials managers to become APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) designees within 18 months of being hired.

Then, to sustain this investment in learning and development, IR rewrote its materials management job descriptions to require CPIMs for all incoming managers. In addition, staffing personnel began targeting CPIM designees for open positions. (Read more after advertising)

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Today, IR has hundreds of CPIMs — and the finance team reports that this investment has paid off. A recent analysis found a direct correlation between materials manager performance and APICS certification. Most importantly, we’re now seeing that this training has led to initiatives that clearly aim to create a better world through supply chain. Learn more about what this globally recognized standard can do for your organization, your suppliers, your customers and beyond.

To find out more about APICS training, contact Australasian Supply Chain Institute (ASCI) National office at enquiries@asci.org.au

Machine learning and artificial intelligence for retail supply chains

How retailers can incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence into their supply chain: A snapshot of the recent ASCI Networking Breakfast panel event

 

By Harsha Illindala, Vice President, Solutions Advisor – APAC at JDA Software

 

I was lucky enough to host a panel at a recent ASCI breakfast on new advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence and how they are helping retailers optimise their operations and supply chain. I was joined by Michelle Grujin, Managing Director, Retail Industry Lead ANZ at Accenture and Marcy Larsen, Industry Solution Executive, Retail and CPG at Microsoft.

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While these technologies are becoming increasingly important, we first discussed some of the macro trends influencing retail customers today, what makes them different to customers from 10 or 20 years ago to frame why investing in these technologies is so important:

  1. Hyper-personalisation

 

Retailers are now expected to customise the customer experience to the segment of one. Retailers need to cluster and segment more narrowly across all retail formats.

  1. Premiumisation

There is a growing interest in premium food, clothes and other merchandise. There has been growth in health, vegan and specialised foods. Customers are also concerned with ethical sourcing and fair trade. They want to believe in the product.

  1. Convenience

Convenience is the price of admission: customers expect retailers to be convenient to deal with. They prioritise this, often over price.

  1. Mobility

The ability to shop online from a Smartphone means customers are more mobile than ever before and can purchase from anywhere.

  1. Urbanisation and population

There is a changing population mix with more customers living in urban areas. Customers will favour retailers who prioritise inclusion and diversity and demonstrate authenticity.

  1. Talent

We then went on to discuss how talent in retail is changing. According to the 2019 Retail C-Suite Viewpoint surveyconducted by JDA Software and Microsoft, talent is a top three issue with the C-suite in retail.

The workforce is varied with more part-timers and a workforce with time constraints. The gig economy is mobilising millennials and the retired workforce. Employees now have the ability to achieve genuine flexibility and hold down several different styles of job which fits in with their lifestyle and personal constraints.

For retailers the focus is now less on workforce scheduling and more about engagement with employees. There is also a huge competition for skills so retailers need to create a dynamic environment which values their skills.

Engaging employees with technology that is as advanced, if not more advanced, than what they are able to access at home is important. Employees, just like customers, expect retailers to demonstrate inclusiveness, diversity and authenticity.

  1. Provenance in supply chain

Customers care about the claims made by brands and retailers about products. Smart looking packaging and brand advertising strategies are important. Environmental and societal influences, morality and accountability are priorities for the customer.

  1. Data

The influence of data is significant. Customer trust is established when the right data is provided. When there is transparency of data between suppliers – shipping through to store – it creates a better customer experience.

  1. Influence of digital

Customers expect the physical experience to be on par with the digital experience. Technology is transforming the customer: 75% of a customer’s visits to a store are influenced by digital and 58% of sales are impacted by digital, according to the 2019 Retail C-Suite Viewpoint survey.

Digital has changed the customer journey; digital is now the ‘front of store’. The customer journey has evolved to loyalty – discovery – research – purchase – fulfillment.

We then went on to discuss which technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), is emerging to help retailers meet the needs of the customer in light of these macro trends.

The Tech

We then covered technology that is playing increasing important role in the supply chain for retailers and why companies should be investing in them:

Technology for personalisation

36% of the C-suite in retail expect to undertake pilots using AI in personalised product recommendations, 20% for localised pricing and 29% for personalised product assortments.

AI helps retailers meet customer expectations around product availability and fulfillment choices – in-store, pick-up and delivery. Customers expect instant gratification when it comes to fulfillment.

AI also provides a flowing, single view of inventory and allows for dynamic allocation and fulfillment, predictive replenishment and a shorter product life cycle.

Technology for provenance in supply chain

AI and ML provide real-time visibility. Traditional systems such as ERP centric reports and dashboards are too slow, alternatively AI provides real-time and direct visualisation of supply chain data with ML identifying and weeding out data discrepancies.

Blockchain is becoming an increasingly common buzzword and is something that could old the answer to many provenance related issues. With Blockchain providing a method to manage forms of exchange, entities in a supply chain can with increased confidence know where each asset has originated

Technology for the workforce

Technology is changing rapidly and affecting supply chain practices. There are several workplace changes that will become more important to how supply chain operates.

With more virtual and contingent workers, automation, increased connectivity through workplace social networks (e.g. instant messaging, communities) and more advanced communication tools (e.g. virtual meetings, webinars) will become increasingly important. Apps (e.g. personal organisers, goal setting, real-time feedback, team activities) will play a role, as will gamification (e.g. realistic training scenarios to stress test and develop supply chain strategies). Artificial Intelligence (e.g. advanced data mining) will help identify business trends and opportunities.

Challenges in adoption

We went on to discuss the major challenges facing retailers in adopting these technologies.

Some of the key observations included:

  • 55% of retailers don’t have single view of inventory
  • 78% of retailers don’t have real time view of inventory
  • 50% of retailers believe their technologies are lagging
  • Most retailers have CDTOs / CDOs and in-house AI teams, but tangible and scalable innovations have been far and few between
  • Many retailers have started off by trying to understand “what will my data show”, but need to transition to “what action needs to be taken” as a result of those insights

Is technology simplifying supply chain or adding to complexity?

We went on to question whether an increasingly complex supply chain is being simplified or further complicated by technology. We agreed that technology can minimise store effort in handling product and create flexibility in flow volumes and mechanisms.

We also discussed automation. There are increased and more affordable automation solutions in warehouses and in-store. Automation delivers productivity but also narrows variations. This means there is a greater need to manage the inventory flow to leverage the automation. Retailers need to manage coordination across inventory planning, transportation, yard, dock and warehouse operations.

A big thank you to the ASCI for inviting me along to host this excellent and insightful panel.

If you have questions about how AI and ML can improve your supply chain, you can contact me at Sriharsha.Illindala@jda.comor visit the JDA website.

Be a Supply Chain Ambassador

Japanese Business Colleagues

Guest Blog: ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

“In the first three months of 2019, employees got so much more work done that they smashed productivity forecasts,” writes Alexia Fernández Campbell for Vox Media. “That’s great for businesses (they earn more money) and for the economy (GDP grows faster). The problem is that companies aren’t rewarding their employees for the extra hard work.”

A recent Gallup World Poll bears out the author’s conclusions, finding that 85% of workers are displeased with their jobs.

As I read this article and considered that unfortunate statistic, I couldn’t help but reflect on ASCM’s brand new 2019 Supply Chain Salary and Career Survey Report. With so many people feeling underappreciated and underpaid — in fact, there were a record number of strikes in the United States last year — this survey reveals that supply chain salaries are on the rise and industry professionals truly love their jobs.

The median supply chain salary in 2018 was $80,000, a 3% increase over 2017. Even more importantly, an overwhelming majority of respondents say they are very or extremely satisfied in their jobs.

This report confirms what all of us at ASCM and every supply chain professional already know: Supply chain careers are rewarding, both professionally and personally. We at ASCM are also proud to discover that the median salary for people with at least one APICS certification is 25% higher than those without. And, in addition to the power of APICS education to advance careers, our initiatives related to women in supply chain are paying off: The gap between men’s and women’s salaries is narrowing, especially for professionals under 40, where the difference is less than $1,000.

Put the findings to work

As we continue to face a vast talent gap, this report highlights numerous opportunities to attract more people to the supply chain. But ASCM can’t do it alone; we need your help.

Begin by talking to the young people in your life about why you are passionate about what you do. Describe your job and how it has a positive influence on the entire business, the lives of your customers and the communities in which they live.

Explain why you look forward to staying in supply chain for years to come (93% of respondents believe they will stay in the field; 44% say they definitely will).

And tell them about the work-life balance you enjoy (nearly all respondents receive holiday pay, and the majority receive three weeks or more paid time off, as well as flexible work schedules).

Then, take a moment to download the survey and post it in your social channels. Share something that you’re especially excited about with the hashtag #lovemyjob. As more and more people outside the industry experience our enthusiasm, they will see that supply chain professionals are highly sought after by employers, make a difference at our organisations and have truly fulfilling careers.

To find out more about APICS certification, visit Australasian Supply Chain Institute – the Premier Channel Partner – for Australian Semester schedules and prices.

Climate Change Disruptors on the Rise

By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

As I write this, the National Weather Service (NWS) is warning of severe cold here in Chicago, with wind chill temperatures expected to reach an excruciating 55 below zero. The NWS has even urged us to protect our lungs by minimizing talking and not taking deep breaths. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, people in South Australia’s coastal capital of Adelaide are facing a different kind of lung injury — from dangerous air quality and ozone exposure. Adelaide recently reached 46.2 Celsius (nearly 116 degrees Fahrenheit), breaking a 130-year record.

When we talk about extreme weather statistics such as these, they are typically followed by warnings of disastrous sea levels, catastrophic Arctic ice decline, and life-threatening floods or hurricanes. “Not enough water to make Coke” and “sweltering Disney theme parks” do seem to pale in comparison. However, a recent Bloomberg article suggests that climate change will have a business impact that is devastating in its own way.

“Climate change is expected to cascade through the economy — disrupting supply chains, disabling operations and driving away customers,” author Christopher Flavelle writes, adding that numerous executives see “inherent climate-related risks with the potential to have a substantial financial or strategic impact on their business.”

Visit ASCI’s previous blog form Corporate Member – Nufarm – who utilises specific advanced analytics for predicting and planning for weather patterns.

One of the most commonly cited issues by company leaders is draught. Specifically, in addition to Coca-Cola fearing water shortages will threaten its bottling operations, Intel is concerned about escalating costs for the water-intensive process of semiconductor manufacturing.

Other professionals are kept up at night worrying about damage to their networks from hurricanes and wildfires (AT&T), global pandemics dissuading people from travel (VISA), and increased flooding and flood insurance premiums forcing mortgage holders to default on payments (Bank of America).

Interestingly, some organizations have identified opportunities amid the chaos, as climate change can “bolster demand for their products.” With more people facing illness, Merck & Co. sees the potential for “expanded markets for products for tropical and weather-related diseases,” Apple predicts disasters will make its iPhone “even more vital to people’s lives,” and Home Depot expects higher air conditioner and ceiling fan sales.

Sustainable supply chains

No matter where your company falls on the threat-versus-opportunity spectrum, climate change is altering the global economy immensely, and supply chains must transform to survive. At this time of both challenge and potential, ASCM is collaborating with a network of world-class organizations — including The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Accenture, Deloitte and PwC — to create opportunities for the kind of supply chain innovation that will be mandatory in the coming years.

In addition, our new SCOR-Enterprise (SCOR-E) designation features an ecological dimension, which focuses on the circular economy, climate strategy, energy, water and waste, material usage, and product life-cycle stewardship. SCOR-E is the industry’s first and only corporate supply chain designation.

I hope you will make the most of these valuable member benefits. ASCM mission-driven strategic initiatives such as these draw on the power of supply chains to address pressing global issues and achieve the brightest futures for individuals, companies and communities.

For more information, please visit the ASCI website and select ASCI Plus Membership which include your local and global membership with ASCM.