Intelligent Supply Chain

Leverage AI-powered supply chain solutions to understand, automate, empower, and accelerate.

Learn how AI can optimize your supply chain performance.

Services & Solutions > Capabilities > Supply Chain > Intelligent Supply Chain

So much supply chain data, so little time.

While digitizing supply chain processes is a tremendous leap in the right direction, today’s supply chain professionals still have so much more to address. Not only must they ensure the rapid and uninterrupted flow of information and transactions, but they must also do so amidst an onslaught of data and changing conditions that could impact their supply chains at any given minute.

In the Path to a Thinking Supply Chain report, IDC reported that the data available to supply chains was 50 times greater than just five years earlier, with less than a quarter of that data being analyzed in near real-time for value. 

The relentless stream of information can be expected to increase exponentially in volume and complexity as IoT and other sources continue to come online. 

Currently, structured and unstructured data streams from a variety of sources, including:

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Internal

• Internal departments
• IoT, logistics, and production data

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Customers

• Customer communications
• Orders and transactions

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B2B Partners

• Multiple file types and formats
• Blockchain-enabled networks

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Third-Party Providers

• Weather companies
• Newsfeeds and geopolitical data
• Competitive news and pricing

However, due to the volume, variety, and complexity of this data, only a fraction of this is being analyzed and leveraged by most companies today.

Analytics

Building a smarter supply chain with AI and analytics

Because of this, supply chain leaders are aggressively adopting technologies that apply Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and analytics to supply chain processes. 

With these capabilities, they’re unlocking valuable information that’s often hidden in data, analyzing massive amounts of data quickly and effectively, learning from it, and guiding and enhancing the decisions and actions of their teams.

In other words, they’re creating intelligent supply chains that use the cognitive power of AI to think, learn, and act.

As a result, not only are they able to leverage the vast amounts of supply chain data that were previously untapped – but they’re gaining better insights quickly to make more informed decisions, avoid disruptions, optimize processes, and improve outcomes. Their stakeholders can act quickly and with confidence based on more real-time information, helping to enhance B2B partner relationships, improve customer satisfaction, and create advantages in this fiercely competitive market.

Smart supply chains transform data into intelligence.

Data is the lifeblood of the supply chain. But data comes in many forms, structured or unstructured. Structured data is contained in files that can be easily integrated into systems. Unstructured data is a little trickier. A telephone call from a customer or a social media post are good example of unstructured data that needs to be transformed into a usable, digital format.

And dark data is the most challenging of all: gems of information hidden from view and often collected and retained – but not effectively used or analyzed – by organizations. Analysts report that businesses are blind to as much as 80% of data that is dark and unstructured.

AI enables organizations to understand, manage, and leverage their data more effectively, whether structured, unstructured, or dark. It has the power to decipher massive volumes of data into understandable, actionable information. The insights it reveals can dramatically affect the performance of their supply chain and can be leveraged to improve relationships with business partners and customers.

Here’s how AI helps you leverage supply chain data more effectively.

dark data
  • Improves data quality
  • Improves management of unstructured data
  • Accelerates searching for data
  • Transforming data into insights
  • Empowering stakeholders and recommending actions
  • Predicting problems and mitigating risk

Most businesses struggle with poor supply chain data quality. AI helps to improve it.

  • AI helps improve data quality by assisting with data discovery and capture, expediting data standardization, eliminating duplicate records, detecting errors and anomalies, and understanding and correlating unstructured data.

Structured and unstructured data is growing by about 40% a year. AI helps to manage and leverage it better.

  • The addition of IoT and blockchain into supply chain technology is also accelerating the speed at which data volume is growing. AI is able to sift through this avalanche of data to generate useful, actionable information that enhances understanding and improves decision making.

Supply chain professionals spend about 25% of their time searching for data. AI simplifies and accelerates the process.

  • AI-powered systems continue to learn over time, making finding information and answers easier for your team and your B2B partners. Also, by providing natural language search and machine learning capabilities, they enable business users to find information easier and faster, and be more self-sufficient and productive.

Most organizations struggle to understand and analyze all of their data. AI quickly transforms data into insights.

  • AI technology rapidly and comprehensively reads, understands, and correlates data that is collected from across disparate sources and systems, both internal and external. It “thinks” like a human mind. But it does so at incredible scale and speed. It analyzes and sorts through massive amounts of data to provide new levels of visibility into day-to-day operations and across the supply chain.
  • It has the power to illuminate the 80% of data that is dark and unstructured – such as weather, news feeds, and political reports – to achieve a new level of understanding that has never been possible before. It can analyze the data quickly and effectively to provide real-time insights based on contextual analysis, detecting trends, patterns, anomalies, changes, and more.

Stakeholders must take the right actions quickly. AI empowers, recommends, automates.

  • Based on what’s happening, AI can trigger automated processes as appropriate and notify decision makers and business partners when intervention is advised. The system automatically prioritizes these alerts based on potential business impact so that supply chains become aware of only the meaningful and impactful problems. This approach is far faster than manually sifting through all the possible scenarios and issues, and far more accurate. While certain exceptions would require human intervention, much of the supply chain is automated and self-learning.
  • Furthermore, AI-powered systems can make recommendations and provide guidance around the best actions to take. It can help organizations build “playbooks” of their best practices based on its continuous learning and training in your supply chain – and on observing past actions and decisions. Supply chain professionals can then act with greater confidence based on the trusted data and insights that the AI system provides on-demand.

Reacting to problems after they happen can be costly. AI helps to predict and avoid problems.

  • AI can help proactively predict problems that might occur in the supply chain and leverage machine learning to understand the next best steps to take in avoiding them. It can help interpret demand and risk signals from structured and unstructured data sources. It can also automatically issue alerts to stakeholders and partners, ensuring awareness and empowering them to take swift and precise action to avoid problems.

AI-empowered supply chains gain numerous benefits

Organizations are leveraging the power of AI to anticipate the future – to predict, assess, and mitigate disruptions and risks. They’re improving efficiency and reducing costs across the entire spectrum of supply chain activities: planning, sourcing, inventory, fulfillment, logistics, and supply assurance. They’re becoming more responsive and resilient and are taking a commanding, competitive lead quickly.

Ultimately, AI-enhanced supply chain intelligence informs decision makers, augmenting their knowledge, so their organizations can be more efficient and effective. It also enables organizations to avoid disruptions by anticipating beforehand what problems might occur along the way.

This shift from reactive to predictive helps ensure the continuous, seamless performance of the supply chain and helps improve business partner and customer relations while boosting organizational productivity.

Additional benefits of leveraging AI capabilities in your supply chain include:

  • Mitigate risk and disruption
  • Optimize Inventory
  • Improve Order Management and Fulfillment
  • Improve B2B collaboration

Mitigate risk and disruption

  • Optimizes agility and flexibility in responding to changes, events, and disruptions.
  • Provides proactive smart alerts if an impact is predicted.

Optimize Inventory

  • Matches supply volume to customer demand.
  • Helps lower safety stock and excess inventory.
  • Helps to respond faster to changing demand, harnessing real-time demand sensing, and supplementing supply chain intelligence with non-traditional data sources.

Improve Order Management and Fulfillment

  • Connects, correlates, and learns from existing and new systems and data sources to provide visibility, alerts, and recommendations to ensure faster and on-time delivery.

Improve B2B collaboration

  • Provides visibility into the entire lifecycle of a transaction in real-time, in detail, and in context.
  • Taps into deep insights regarding transaction trends and performance.

World-class supply chain capabilities
are well within your reach.

As an IBM Platinum Business partner, we’ve helped thousands of companies leverage IBM solutions to optimize their supply chains. AI-powered solutions for the
intelligent supply chain include:

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IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Network

Quickly connect, engage, and transact with over 800,000 pre-connected trading partners. This core cloud solution enables seamless, secure, and reliable collaboration and increased visibility into transactions across your supply chain network. Its AI capabilities provide real-time intelligence and recommendations, while Blockchain also enables greater transparency.

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IBM Sterling Business Transaction Intelligence

Data silos within your company or across multiple partners can lead to disputes or disruptions of supply chain transactions. This solution illuminates B2B transaction blind spots, detects anomalies using AI and blockchain, and provides real-time shared visibility – from order through delivery. Predictive capabilities help determine whether a specific milestone, such as purchase order acknowledgment or shipping, will be completed by a certain date.

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IBM Sterling Supply Chain Insights with Watson

Predict, assess, and effectively mitigate disruptions and risks to your supply chain. This AI-powered solution delivers advanced, powerful insights. It quickly correlates a wide variety of data from siloed systems and external sources, and harnesses organizational knowledge to help resolve issues faster.

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IBM Sterling Inventory Control Tower

Gain end-to-end visibility and insights to better manage and act on inventory to meet demand. This solution provides accurate, real-time, available-to-promise data, helping to see your inventory wherever it is, understand the impact of events, predict disruptions, and take the right actions.

supply chain solutions

The intelligent supply chain is changing the way you conduct business. Choose your partners wisely.

We have entered a period of monumental change. Supply chains are being dramatically impacted by these AI-powered technologies, and the benefits are clear.

But these capabilities are no longer just a “nice-to-have.” The extreme challenges of 2020 have made it urgent to abandon traditional, slow, manual approaches and enable more agile, intelligent, and resilient supply chains.

Our team has decades of experience helping companies improve their B2B and supply chain processes. Combining our expertise with powerful IBM Sterling Supply Chain solutions, we’re able to offer a level of expertise and capabilities you won’t find elsewhere.

Learn more about our solutions and services and let us help you navigate your way to a modernized, efficient, and intelligent supply chain.

Comprehensive services and solutions for intelligent supply chains

IBM Sterling Supply Chain: This suite of industry-leading solutions provides critical capabilities for digitizing supply chains.  This includes:

supply chain

Lightwell Supply Chain Services and Innovations: Our comprehensive, end-to-end services and innovations will help you accelerate, streamline, and optimize.  This includes:

Enterprise Architecture

Optimize your supply chain with these related solutions

Learn about additional solutions and services from Lightwell and IBM Sterling that can help you improve your overall supply chain performance and seize a competitive advantage.

Learn about supply chain solutions for your industry.

Many IBM Sterling Supply Chain solutions are specialized for the unique needs of various business sectors, ensuring that standards are met for privacy, security, and other important areas related to business transactions and transmissions:

Illuminating Resources​

Let’s Get Started

Interested in enabling a more intelligent supply chain?

Contact us to discuss how we can help you advance your supply chain capabilities and create a strong foundation for the future.

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