'Tis the season to be jolly, but for supply chain leaders, it's also the season to be prepared. The holidays are a hectic time in the world of supply chain, with fluctuating market conditions, volatile demand, shifting customer expectations, and the ever-present threat of disruptions.
Fortunately, supply chain planning technology has the right solutions to equip supply chain teams and help them effectively navigate the busiest time of the year. So, what’s on the supply chain planners’ wish list this holiday season? Let's take a peek.
A Crystal Ball: Predictive Analytics
Supply chain leaders often find themselves wishing for a crystal ball that can foresee the next big holiday trends. Luckily, supply chain planning software provides the next best thing: predictive analytics.
Predictive analytics utilize historical data, market trends, and other critical information to anticipate customer preferences and product demands. Your team can easily assimilate the latest, most relevant information to seize opportunities and address challenges more quickly than you previously thought possible. And the real power emerges when predictive analytics join forces with prescriptive analytics. The predictive aspect allows you to see 'what will happen,' while prescriptive analytics steps in to provide recommendations for 'what should I do.' This synergy empowers decision-makers with a comprehensive understanding of the future and also actionable insights on how to shape that future.
These advanced analytics support decision-making along the entire supply chain. By combining the ability to predict and prescribe actions, companies can make informed decisions in near real-time, adjusting strategies dynamically to stay ahead in an ever-evolving market.
A Magic Wand: Machine Learning (ML)
We all often dream of a powerful tool akin to a magic wand. In supply chain planning, Machine Learning comes close to fulfilling this wish.
ML is a subset of Artificial Intelligence (AI). From demand forecasting to inventory management, ML optimizes multiple aspects of the supply chain with powerful algorithms that process vast amounts of data quickly, providing insights that guide strategic decision-making.
As companies are increasingly urged to respond to rapidly changing market dynamics, ML algorithms streamline access to real-time data and remove latency from decision making. The benefits of this technology are many, including cleansing master data, improving data quality and accuracy, and helping predict lead times, while bringing to light key areas where companies can act to best fulfil demand.
With the power of ML, companies can ensure that their holiday deliveries are made on time and that inventory levels are efficiently balanced, giving them more time to focus on higher-level tasks.
Santa's Little Helpers: Expert Systems
Planners often wish for a team of little helpers to assist in tackling complexities, and this is where the algorithmic brains of AI come in – or as we call them, the Expert Systems. At the core of John Galt Solutions' Atlas Planning Platform are our Expert Systems powering our AI capabilities. Atlas’ Expert Systems serve as vigilant overseers of the supply chain, continuously monitoring, detecting changes, and offering real-time notifications for exceptions and outliers.
The capabilities of these very powerful “little helpers” extend far beyond mere observation. They also provide prescriptive recommendations, grounded in fresh data and actionable insights. What sets them apart is their adaptability; the Expert Systems are in a perpetual state of evolution, dynamically adjusting to their surroundings with an innate understanding of causality and the intricate web of relationships within the supply chain. This knowledge empowers them to self-correct their model of the supply chain, improve operational policies, and optimize their algorithms for peak performance.
The Expert Systems are key enablers in decision-centric planning. As businesses grow and scale their operations, the Expert Systems continuously sense, monitor, optimize, and learn from all the data and act as the central hub for intelligent decision-making. They play a crucial role in identifying and extracting data patterns, continuously learning from the data processed into the supply chain plan from various sources and systems, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Transportation Management Systems (TMS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and more. Over time, the Expert Systems fine-tune the end-to-end automation decision-making rules, as they continuously observe, capture, and learn how different users across roles and skills make decisions, ensuring supply chains run as efficiently as possible.
These digital helpers are here to supercharge your supply chain for the holiday rush.
The Holiday Magic of End-to-End Visibility: A Digital Supply Chain Twin
Just like Santa knows when you've been sleeping and knows when you're awake – global supply chain teams yearn for enhanced visibility into their extended network and operations. This is made possible by a Digital Supply Chain Twin (DSCT).
The DSCT acts as a faithful and dynamic replica of the real-world supply chain, helping companies transform the way they understand, manage, and optimize the supply chain. This powerful model provides a real-time, highly detailed, and holistic view of your entire supply chain ecosystem. From production facilities and distribution centers to suppliers and customers, every facet of your supply chain is mirrored within this digital counterpart.
This means that any change or disruption, whether it occurs locally or globally, is instantly visible in the digital twin, offering a level of situational awareness and insight that was once unimaginable. With such insight at your fingertips, you can pinpoint inefficiencies, anticipate disruptions, proactively optimize your operations, and elevate your strategic planning.
A Bag of ‘Prepared For’ Surprises: Scenario Planning
It’s not uncommon for the holiday season to come with surprises, which means companies need to be prepared and strive to ensure their networks can resist disruptions. This is why scenario planning is critical, as it allows planners to simulate different outcomes as well as variables across the network and prepare for the unexpected.
Scenario planning also provides a powerful lever to find any weak spots in the supply chain and make improvements to stay ahead of the game, while driving up profits and operational efficiency to achieve a resilient supply chain.
If you’re not stress-testing your supply chain and simulating scenarios with different market conditions, you’re missing out. This is the key to assess how your supply chain would respond to different events, to detect potential vulnerabilities and bottlenecks, and to visualize the impact of your decisions before execution to help you choose the best possible course of action.
By playing out various scenarios, you can develop strategies for handling any situation. Whether it's a sudden increase in demand or unforeseen disruptions, you’ll be ready to adapt quickly and keep the supply chain running smoothly.
Let’s Sleigh Your Holiday Supply Chain Challenges
We’re here to help you harness the latest innovations in supply chain planning, so your teams can find these gifts under the tree. Let us show you how the Atlas Planning Platform can accelerate your digital supply chain transformation and optimize your end-to-end supply chain, to ensure the holiday season remains joyful and trouble-free!