Recent research from leading analysts at Gartner® has identified key technologies that Chief Supply Chain Officers (CSCOs) and other supply chain leaders should be using to optimize their supply chains and achieve their enterprise goals. The research presents what the analysts believe are “the most essential technology themes that CSCOs need to be aware of” as they transform their businesses and drive towards better decision making.
The post-pandemic years have been increasingly complex and uncertain for supply chain leaders. Material shortages and high raw material costs, sustainability pressures, shifting manufacturing footprints, and the impacts of current or future conflicts in eastern Europe, the Levant, and the Taiwan Strait all represent clear challenges to effective supply chain strategic planning and execution. Add to these rapid and unexpected shifts in consumer and enterprise demand, macroeconomic pressures, and the short- and long-term impacts of a changing climate and it is clear that the current context for supply chain decision makers is incredibly complex.
Overcoming these challenges and mitigating the impact of uncertainty and complexity on their supply chains demands turning to technology for support. The right choices can help CSCOs to minimize the costs associated with supply chain volatility and optimize their systems to leverage their competitive advantages more fully with regards to skills, knowledge, and business processes. As Gartner® analysts put it, the right investments will allow CSCOs to surpass their organizational goals – so, the question becomes: what are the right investments?
The analyst authors depict the technology themes it deems essential for CSCOs in a pyramid shape. Moving from the bottom of the pyramid to the top presents what Gartner® calls a “Roadmap to Supply Chain Decision Intelligence”.
The road to superior supply chain planning, management and execution begins with the Data Platform. On top of this are layered technologies that deliver Visibility and Traceability, technologies that offer a Digital Representation of the supply chain and targeted AI Techniques, all leading to a cumulus point of true supply chain Decision Intelligence.
A true roadmap towards supply chain maturity, the analysts urge CSCOs to “establish the foundations and building blocks before tackling technologies such as advanced analytics and AI”. As such, investments in a data platform and visibility and traceability that allow decision makers to trust the data they collect and understand their supply chain holistically, respectively, need to come before investments in digital twins, AI simulation, and decision intelligence tools.
As Gartner® puts it, the data platform “ensures the sufficient quality” of the data foundation for supply chain decision intelligence, and “provides the appropriate governance structure and processes” for data-driven decision making. The analysts recommend drawing together the multiple data sources that a supply chain group might have access to and harmonizing this data. The goal is to establish a data value chain with a stable, high-performance, and scalable data architecture. Getting the data platform right allows CSCOs to lay a strong foundation on which to build a more effective and efficient supply chain.
Gartner® has long argued that “supply chain visibility is key for resiliency”, by which they mean the capacity and ability to prepare for unexpected events, respond effectively to disruptions, and recover rapidly from any unanticipated impact. Visibility, in turn, is defined as having a holistic understanding of the organization and its business in real-time. It serves as the foundation for organizational transparency (knowing what is happening, where, and why) and traceability (the capacity to verify the history, location, or application of any element in the supply chain).
A digital representation of the supply chain is, in its ultimate form, a digital supply chain twin. These digital twins enable predictions to be made about the future state of the supply chain based on dynamic models of the entire value chain. Building on the holistic visibility of the previous step in the roadmap, the most advanced digital supply chain twins enable supply chain leaders to simulate and optimize manufacturing processes, forecast with confidence, and accelerate supply chain decision making while building a supply chain resilient to systemic shocks.
Gartner® analysts describe AI techniques as the connective tissue between digital representation and decision intelligence in the supply chain. Artificial intelligence (including machine learning, deep learning, and LLMs) allow CSCOs to ask and answer questions beyond the basic predictive capabilities of digital twins. For example, instead of questioning what will happen next, supply chain leaders can undertake scenario modeling to ask what if questions and extract optimal plans that respond to how to questions. AI techniques, including AI simulation, that enable both what if predictions and how to prescriptions have already proved incredibly powerful for production planning, strategic sourcing and manufacturing scheduling.
At the pinnacle of Gartner’s technology pyramid sits decision intelligence, defined by the analysts as the technologies that advance decision making by “understanding and engineering how decisions are made, and how outcomes are evaluated, managed, and improved via feedback”. Decision intelligence tools draw on digital twins and advanced AI techniques, including AI simulation, to enhance resilience, achieve sustainability goals, and enable transparent decision making. CSCOs can leverage their holistic view of the supply chain, forecast risk with confidence, determine the best course of action to achieve business goals by asking the right what if and how to questions, and future proof their supply chain.
Decision intelligence solutions like those offered by Cosmo Tech help CSCOs to design, model, align, execute, monitor, and tune decision models and processes even in the most complex and unpredictable environments. Thanks to Cosmo Tech decision intelligence solutions powered by its unique AI simulation technology, supply chain leaders can achieve the growth, digitalization, and efficiency they seek, and all while meeting sustainability targets.
Supply chain leaders that follow the roadmap outlined by Gartner® in their research can be confident that they’ll be able to make optimal operational, tactical, and strategic choices even where supply and demand remain volatile, and uncertainty abounds. As Cosmo Tech co-founder and Executive Chairman Michel Morvan has explained, “the combination of Data-driven AI, modeling, and complex simulation delivers a truly reliable vision of the future, one that can be leveraged for productivity gains, efficiency improvements, and value generation”.
Learn more about Cosmo Tech’s game changing decision intelligence solutions for supply chain.