The Proactive Supply Chain and Outside Context Problems

data silos

When confronting the impossibility of being unable to plan for an event that we don’t know could happen, the answer must be to have systems and processes in place that allow us to respond to a rapidly changing landscape and ‘get to the left’ of a disruption, keeping good options on the table for longer.

In critically acclaimed author Iain M. Banks Culture series, a far future, post scarcity, interstellar civilization has turned all their societal governance and planning over to hyper-intelligent AIs allowing its citizens to live utopian lives of leisure and philosophical pursuits.

The AIs in the series bear all the hallmarks of classic sci-fi and current day aspirations regarding the promise of AI: they are incredibly accurate in their predictions and are orders of magnitude more intelligent than a human. With all that analytical power though, they still share the same blind spot as we do today – in the parlance of the series: “outside context problems” – events and risks that no one could have predicted or seen coming and thus could not plan for because they exist outside of the context for what we consider likely, let alone even possible.

Even in our science fiction, the most hyper intelligent AI cannot account for an outside context problem.  How can we in the present day, even if augmented in decision making by machine learning powered by endless amounts of data, account for such unknowns? How can we create resilient supply chains when managing routine exceptions is difficult task, not to mention responding to black swan disruptions such as a pandemic?

From dialogues with customers, analysts, and thought leaders, a few common threads have emerged as the capabilities and mindsets needed to enable a digital, resilient supply chain:

  • Clean, actionable, real-time data insights that comingle legacy systems (ERP, TMS, APS, etc.), transportation and logistics partner, IOT, and external event data are the best tool set for being proactive in the face of uncertainty. This tool set is the foundation for a proactive supply chain where routine exceptions are predictively identified and prescriptively resolved before they become issues.
  • Supply Chain and Logistics Execution is a team sport. Having a single, complete version of the truth to work from both inside your enterprise and with your partners is paramount when responding to disruptions, routine or novel, and building a resilient supply chain
  • When it comes to risk and taking action, real-time changes in behavior around movements, nodes, and suppliers are a leading indicator; root cause is a trailing indicator. If your house is filling with smoke, you don’t wait to learn that a frayed wire sparked the fire before you call the fire department, you act.

How does your organization stack up in those areas? When issues arise are you working the problem or getting worked over by it? To discuss how TransVoyant can help you realize the savings and ROI created by a digital, resilient supply chain, reach out! Let’s talk!

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