Roundtable Event Explores the Importance of AI Applications

Industry leaders from companies including Lenovo, UPS, Duke Energy, and Bayer gathered at NC State Tuesday to discuss how they can leverage modern developments in AI within their organizations.

To help spread the word on the importance of modern artificial intelligence (AI) applications in the supply chain industry, the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative (SCRC) hosted a first-of-its-kind roundtable event, sponsored by IBM Watson Supply Chain, on Tuesday, January 29th to discuss the recent findings of the second annual “Data Governance, Data Quality and Artificial Intelligence” study.

Dr. Robert Handfield moderated the event and led industry professionals from companies including Bayer, Duke Energy, Lenovo, and UPS, through discussions about how they can leverage modern developments in AI to proactively identify, assess and mitigate disruptions and risks across their organization. 

Attendees participated in breakout discussions covering topics including the application and advantages of blockchain technology and how to use AI to decrease lead time, with an overall theme focusing on the increasing need to adopt AI technology in order to compete in the digital age.

I enjoyed hearing how people have implemented AI and got a quick ROI…some within 6 months. From an industrial and business perspective, that’s really what we’re looking for — an ability to identify these new technologies as they evolve and implement them to get a quick ROI.

Ramana Indugula, Southeastern Grocers

Key Insights

  • Participants analyzed the metaphor of building a bridge vs. growing a garden: A bridge cannot be used until it is 100% complete and every piece is in place, much like the deployment of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. A garden, on the other hand, is similar to the development of an AI and analytics-based system in that it can be developed and used simultaneously as new components are introduced and made available.
  • Several individuals noted the importance of “jumping in” and not waiting to engage in a block chain, AI, or IoT initiative. An important component of creating an analytics culture involves trying out different approaches, determining what works and what doesn’t and learning to fail fast and how to learn from these failures. Aggressively-moving companies are taking an agile approach to deployment, while those who take a “wait-and-see” stance are falling behind quickly.
  • Companies launching pilot projects need to consider return on investment (ROI) on measures other than just cost and efficiency. Rather, they should also consider applications that will provide new capabilities that customers will value. Projects that focus on increased speed of decision-making, increasing asset velocity, and creation of new performance analytics in real-time beyond what is available today are examples of bold new capabilities that are important to customers.

For a more in-depth look at the key takeaways from Tuesday’s event, visit Dr. Handfield’s blog post where he breaks down the day’s most important findings.