AI and automation to navigate supply chain

“The Innovators” are modernizing their technology infrastructure

A new IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study “Own Your Transformation” unveils how Chief Supply Chain Officers (CSCOs) are navigating significant supply chain challenges brought on by a global COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, climate change and geopolitical events, and how they plan to future-proof their supply chains. The survey* of 1,500 CSCOs and Chief Operating Officers (COOs) reveals that they are increasing investments in automation, AI and intelligent workflows, ecosystems, and sustainability, and are reimagining their supply chain operations.

“To effectively combat the unprecedented supply chain stressors like inflation, it’s imperative that CSCOs focus on using analytics, AI and automation initiatives to build intelligent, resilient, and sustainable supply chains,” said Jonathan Wright, IBM Consulting Global Managing Partner, Sustainability Services and Global Business Transformation. “Automation and AI can enable CSCOs and their organizations to collect data, identify risk, validate documentation, and provide audit trails, even in high inflationary periods, while also managing their carbon, waste, energy and water consumption.”

Key study findings show that:

CSCOs are embracing AI and automation technologies to provide interconnectivity with partners and suppliers and to enable sustainable operations and predictability.

  • Almost half (47 per cent) of surveyed CSCOs said they have introduced new automation technologies in the last two years—an approach that can add predictability, flexibility, and intelligence to supply chain operations, and they’re using AI to help monitor and track performance.

Sustainability is both a challenge and a force for change.

  • Surveyed CSCOs rank sustainability as their third biggest challenge in the next few years, trailing only supply chain disruptions and technology infrastructure.
  • 52 per cent place sustainability at or near the top of their priority list.
  • 50 per cent report that their sustainability investments will accelerate business growth.
  • They tell us that they experience the most direct pressure for sustainability transparency from: investors (56 per cent), board members (50 per cent) and customers (50 per cent).

“The Innovators”: 20 per cent of respondents stand apart for accelerating their data-led innovation to prepare for a precarious future, and this group is already outperforming peers on key metrics including reporting 11 per cent higher annual revenue growth. They are:

  • Integrating automated workflows across organizational functions and with their partners for real-time visibility, insights, and action (95 per cent more than other CSCOs).
  • Modernizing their technology infrastructure – 56 per cent are currently operating on hybrid cloud, and 60 per cent are investing in digital infrastructure to scale and deliver value.
  • Extending their sustainability initiatives, creating new products and services. 58 per cent see opportunities to improve customer engagement through sustainability imperatives.
  • Focusing deeper on cybersecurity (nearly 20 per cent more than other CSCOs).


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