As the year 2019 and this latest decade comes to a close, Supply Chain Matters has been featuring added details for each of our ten Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains for the upcoming year. The latest Part Three update just published.
In conjunction with our 2020 Predictions series, we have additionally reached out to major technology and services providers to ascertain what they anticipate occurring in the areas of supply chain management business practices and supporting advanced technology.
A related contribution we would like to share with our reading audience comes from two senior executives from enterprise Cloud platform, data management and applications provider Oracle.
Modern Best Practices
Steve Cox serves as Group Vice President, Cloud Business Group for Oracle. In his role, he leads go-to-market strategy for Oracle ERP and EPM applications.
Cox recently authored the eBook paper: Oracle Modern Best Practice-Predicted, Why many new jobs will be created, some old jobs will become irrelevant- but every job will change at the task level. This eBook served as an update to Cox’s 2014 authored paper: Modern Best Practice Explained, which focused on the impact of Cloud computing on common business processes.
The thrust of this latest paper is to address best practices during wildly unpredictable times among business settings, and that accelerating technologies will indeed upend work never seen before. Noted is the following:
“Artificial intelligence, IoT, autonomous software, and blockchain will do more than change how humans work. They will change work and society in ways similar to how cell phones changed person-to-person communication into something entirely different than what it was before.”
The paper addresses future business process areas related to Finance, HCM, Customer Experience and Supply Chain Management. The premise is that process management moves away from a dominance of transaction processing, to that of more focused decision-making.
Cox’s depiction of how the future supply chain will work is one where physical and digital processes are connected by IoT, where decision-making is assisted by AI/ML in areas thought to be too complex.
A notion of “Digitally Agile” is equated to resilient supply networks: “..that can sense demand trends early and respond quickly to factors like natural disaster or regulation change. Customer feedback from usage data (IoT) or sentiment (web, social, customer service, etc.) will feed into decision-making for product development or product retirement. Production facilities can better recover from disruption with up-to-date equipment status and quick access to alternate material sources.”
In the overall context of what have businesses learned and what can be anticipated in the coming decade, Cox indicates that Cloud-based applications provide the capability to keep all business processes tuned and updated as new best practices continue to evolve. Further summarized as takeaways are the following observations:
“It is clear that automation will continue into the future. We also know that AI/ML can’t replace the human capacity for nuanced decision-making, creative thinking, and personal contact. However, these emerging technologies will drive competitive differentiation. That is, if organizations are using a cloud-based business platform of connected applications that can optimize the usage of many data sources, which is the feedstock of advanced technologies such as AI/ML, IoT, digital assistants and blockchain.”
Supply Chain Advanced Technology Adoption Trending
Jon Chorley serves as the Chief Sustainability Officer and Group Vice President, Supply Chain Management Product Strategy. In his duel roles, Chorley drives and coordinates all initiatives, both internally and externally, related to the company’s environmental sustainability strategies, and further leads the teams responsible for driving the business requirements and product roadmaps for Oracle’s supply chain management (SCM) applications.
Regarding advanced technology adoption, Chorley Indicates:
“The major trends we’re seeing in the supply chain are around embedding Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and chatbots into core supply chain processes to reimagine the business. For example, IoT and blockchain are gaining adoption in the context of tracking and tracing products from raw materials/ingredients through every stage of production through to the consumer. This will enable organizations to verify product origins and quality assurance at each stage of production, and conduct recalls with surgical precision to improve safety while reducing waste.
Chatbots and AI are enabling supply chain professionals to better monitor operations and receive proactive updates in a simple conversational user interface to reduce manual effort and improve accuracy. At the same time, IoT and AI help businesses optimize operations and prevent disruptions by facilitating efficient route transportation and the coordination of warehouse operations in advance of shipments – and IoT and AI also enable predictive maintenance of production machinery to prevent downtime.
Blockchain builds greater trust and transparency between trading partners to deliver new levels of supply chain automation; IoT provides a view of where and how your assets or products are operating so you can act on real-time data; and chatbots streamline communications by providing instant notifications and recommendations across multiple devices. But the transformational technology that underpins these emerging technologies is artificial intelligence, which will drive a new era of business productivity.”
Regarding how such technologies change or affect supply chains, Chorley further predicted:
“The combination of these technologies delivered via SaaS architecture, which ensures customers are always on the latest version, will lead to a significant lift in supply chain efficiency and output in 2020.
Over the last couple of years, thousands of customers have migrated from a complex web of disparate on-premises supply chain applications to Oracle SCM Cloud, which often involves consolidation and standardization. While configurable, the SaaS architecture of Oracle SCM Cloud allows these organizations to standardize on common business processes and drop customizations. This process of standardization and moving to a common data model is essential, and it allows organizations to effectively adopt and scale emerging technologies like AI, blockchain, chatbots, and to a lesser extent, IoT.
Our customers have gone through this process and are now managing supply chain data on the same platform as finance, human resources and customer experience applications. With the hard work of cloud migration and systems consolidation behind them, we’re expecting to see more organizations start to realize the compounding benefits of emerging technologies in the supply chain.”
Two predictive viewpoints from two Oracle senior executives, both with a common predictive theme reflecting that Cloud technology will become the basis of added agility and resiliency in the coming times of constant business, associated business practices and job role changes.
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