The following is a Supply Chain Matters guest contribution by Dan Ahearn, Supply Chain Strategist in IT Integration and Digital Transformation.


The allure of tech-driven warehouses is irresistible—be it pick-to-light systems, voice recognition, RFID, or even drones and autonomous vehicles and I love it all.

I found Bob Ferrari’s Supply Chain Matters series on leveraging control layers to leverage both legacy and state-of-the-art tech for last-mile delivery efficiencies fascinating… but it left me wondering. How can the everyday warehouse manager take the first step toward this future?

We’ve all lived the late-day chaos—juggling yesterday’s unresolved tasks and preparing for the unknowns of tomorrow. Sure, experience and gut instinct have guided us, but let’s face it, these alone can’t offer the real-time precision today’s complex landscape demands.

So, what’s the missing ingredient for shifting from a reactive to a proactive stance?

Enter data lakes and cloud computing—no longer buzzwords but real, concrete solutions.

Monthly KPI reports? Outdated. We need actionable data, and we need it in the moment, not at quarter’s end.

Real-time analytics do more than just help us react to current challenges; they let us foresee and strategically tackle future issues. By harnessing data lakes and cloud computing power, we lay the foundation for integrating Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)—not as buzzwords but as practical, hands-on tools that drastically uplift our operational acumen and decision-making competencies.

Imagine ML and AI algorithms that sift through tons of data to spotlight key insights—predicting market shifts, optimizing shipping routes, or flagging equipment glitches before they halt operations. This quick loop of data-supported insights facilitates agile and efficient decision-making.

It’s not just about collecting data; it’s about making smarter decisions. This democratizes the decision-making process, making it more collaborative and precise, and less dependent on individual ‘tribal knowledge.’

So, for those of us still basing decisions on intuition or age-old wisdom, consider this a friendly nudge from someone who’s been in the trenches. It’s high time we turn the compass toward data-driven decision-making.

Your operational efficiency—and bottom line—may hinge on taking this critical step.


Dan Ahearn


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