The Journey to Autonomic Global Supply Chains

TransVoyant’s CEO, Dennis Groseclose, shared his thoughts on how his prediction of autonomic global supply chains look as we come to the end of 2022…

In early 2016, I was speaking to a bipartisan group of United States Senators about the interdependencies and risks in global supply chains. During the discussion, I made what was perceived as a goofy prediction.

In the year 2035 supply chains will become autonomic. They will be self-aware, acting unconsciously to orchestrate, regulate and optimize business functions, decisions, environmental impacts, risks, and customer service across complex global earth and space value chains.”

One of the benefits of founding and growing TransVoyant over the past eleven years is the ability to reflect on vision and strategy and compare it to how far our global customers have come in their supply chain journey. On the flip side, founders get to review how accurate their vision and strategy are over time. Trust me, founders continually make mistakes, and I am no different.

So how does the prediction of autonomic global supply chains look as we come to the end of 2022?

Measurable Customer Progress

TransVoyant customer executives are now focused on end-to-end supply chain performance and behavior. Eleven years ago, these same leaders were forced to concentrate on subsegments of the overall supply chain, using legacy technology and latent internal data to improve individual functions or organizational silos. Leaders were obsessed with backward-looking measures such as capacity utilization, warehouse performance, individual factory optimization, and individual trading partner SLAs.

These siloed past performance measures remain important, but until recently customer leaders rarely challenged their organizations to execute as a system of systems. Therefore, customers did not focus on current and predicted end-to-end supply chain flow and behavior across their networks, nodes, trading partners, and ecosystems.

Having been a customer of supply chain solutions most of my life, I understand the pushback on a system of systems thinking. Until 2016, technology, algorithms, and the global supply chain sensor array had not matured to continually emit, ingest, process, and analyze massive amounts of real-time data to understand and predict global flow and operations through a complex supply chain network. You could dream it, unscrupulous companies could sell individual widgets claiming they could do it, and consultants could pontificate about it, but prior to 2016 real-time and end-to-end couldn’t be done due to technical, data and algorithm limitations.

We have come a long way. Today, TransVoyant customers focus on current and predicted behavior within and between the nodes of their supply chain network, across their interdependent trading partners, and across global logistics service providers, to drive continual performance improvement. As a simple example, customers want to know what predicted global network behavior or external and ecosystem events are forecasted to impact the flow and transformation of material into the goods they make, sell, and deliver to their customers. If predicted global supply chain behavior does not intersect with their future operational flow and behavior, it is not important. Customers want the TransVoyant platform to give them answers before a problem occurs, and not bother them with information overload on things that are not relevant to their network.

Thanks to these customers TransVoyant created and operates the world’s only platform that continually understands current, and predicts future, end-to-end interdependent supply chain behavior. Behavior such as predicted lead times, variability, capacity, future disruptive events, customer demand, product alternatives, predicted temperature excursions, optimal future buffer inventory, environmental impacts and tradeoffs, best routes, best times to depart, best times to arrive, etc. In short, these customers continually drive TransVoyant to move their decision-making left of a problem or left of a chance to exploit a future opportunity. Behavior in-node and between-node is now one holistic set of platform flows and operations providing a living system of systems continually understood and continually adjusted.

The Path Forward

Thanks to our customers, TransVoyant is making rapid progress towards global autonomic supply chains. So much progress that I will pull my prediction in to 2030 from 2035. Don’t look now, but supply chains are becoming self-aware and self-healing.

Our customer journey has taught me dozens of tough lessons and provided grounded perspectives. In closing, I’ll share two of those perspectives. First, contrary to a cadre of naysayers, autonomic supply chains are possible. Some pundits, analysts, and consultants claim autonomic global supply chains will never happen. These same naysayers told the Montgolfier and Wright Brothers lighter than air and powered flight was a fool’s errand. Innovators scare naysayers because they disrupt global economic and political models. Analysts, pundits, and consultants get paid to say hard things are not possible because it disrupts their self-licking lollipop business models. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of human behavior and change management challenges, but the TransVoyant Platform has removed technical, data and algorithm constraints to the vision of global autonomic supply chains.

Second, because of the TransVoyant Platform, customers no longer need high-cost, high-risk, big-bang programs for their supply chain journey. Today, TransVoyant customers move forward improving segments and sub-operations of their supply chain based on business case prioritization. These customers rapidly innovate new applications that turn segments of the flow or sub-operations autonomic. Over time, they link these segments and nodes together to build out the end-to-end autonomic supply chain. The TransVoyant Platform allows any current or new point solution to seamlessly ‘plug in’ and it allows for the quick creation of new point solutions so that customer supply chains are a continually sharpened competitive weapon.

When I made the bold “autonomic global supply chain” prediction to a group of US Senators, I envisioned it would happen in a big bang. I was wrong, it is happening region by region, flow by flow, operation by operation. It is happening because of innovative customers leveraging the TransVoyant Platform for intelligent automation to increase customer service, enhance revenue, reduce costs, minimize environmental footprint, and ensure corporate compliance. We are fortunate to serve these forward-leaning customers.

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