Have you ever stopped to think on how digital transformation will change your job and career? Wondered how soon your job will be fully automated and become obsolete? I have and have not been able to stop thinking about it.
Since I graduated from college about 6 years ago, I have worked in supply chain. I have seen how technology has changed over time and improved the way in which things are done.
The industrial engineer in me loves to find new and more efficient ways to perform tasks. I have been an advocate to invest and use new technologies in our day to day data management to allow us the necessary capabilities to standardize and automate tasks. In the past I have made improvements and automated too many tasks that ended up making my role obsolete. Should I be scared to keep making improvements and utilizing new technologies that could result in my job being obsolete? I do not think so.
Digital transformation will play a big role in defining how the future of supply chain will be. Block chain, business intelligence platforms, machine learning and artificial intelligence are just some tools that will enhance how we do business. Jobs will certainly change and become obsolete with time, but in order to stay ahead of the curve we must continue to learn and apply and implement the new technologies in our field.
How can new technologies be applied in the supply chain field?
Supply chain consists of many different areas, from demand planning, forecasting, logistics, inventory control to manufacturing (and more!). Digital transformation can and will improve most of these functions with time. I will touch base on the two main areas that I am involved at work – Supplier Management and Demand Forecasting and Planning.
Block chain – Supplier Management
First of all, what is block chain? Block chain is a digital ledger in which transactions between parties are recorded. It provides increased transparency between groups in a secure and traceable document. The decentralized chain of certification allows for the data to be authenticated and maintained indefinitely. The document is unchangeable, unless all parties agree to modify it.
Supplier management can not be successful without trust between both parties. The fact that transactions can not be modified without consensus from the whole team it provides transparency which leads to trust and credibility to everyone involved.
Leveraging block chain for managing suppliers can be beneficial. If implemented correctly, it allows for shipments to be tracked and provide status updates in real time. The block chain element allows for the transactional records to be recorded and be used to track shipments back to the origin if necessary. This could be very useful in the event of a quality issue or potential recall.
Automation and standardization of processes are other benefits that can be applied and can be enabled with block chain. The transaction log can be used to verify delivery of goods to the destination. Once the transaction is recorded, it can automatically trigger the payment to the supplier (based on contract and inco terms). By standardizing the shipment and payment processes it is reducing the human touch points and could potentially minimize payment errors. This technology can be implemented across
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – Sales Demand Planning
Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data are tools that will provide more power and insights to demand planning. Adeel Najmi says it best “Learning occurs when a machine takes the output, observes the accuracy of the output, and updates its own model so that better outputs will occur.” By leveraging the power behind these models it can analyze and find insights that the human brain can’t. It also has the power to run millions of iterations of specific models to create scenario analysis. The benefit is better insights in less time.
It is important to mention that these tools by themselves can not provide decisions, but guide the user to take more informed and accurate decisions. Data analytics will turn to better decision making.
While there are more ways in which supply chain can change in this digital age, block chain and machine learning are the ones I can leverage in my day to day life. I see my job transitioning from excel models to more robust machine learning / deep learning models. The power of data is something I will be leveraging to my advantage and try to stay ahead of the curve, after all models needs to be created by humans. While my job and others in supply chain may become obsolete in the future, it is best to learn new ways in which we can use the new technologies to our advantage.
So, are you looking at ways to stay ahead of the curve?
Sites used and recommended for further reading: