The Digital Supply Chain: Cognitive Computing, Blockchain and IoT

UPS VP of corporate strategy Alan Amling believes 2017 was a turning point in the race to adopt digital supply chain. Headlines abound with claims that a transformed supply chain backed by AI, big data and data synthesis will be key to staying competitive.

Technologies driving disruption in supply chain include blockchain, chatbots, and digitisation. Integrated data and higher quality customer interactions are creating better service and speedier supply chains. Amling said benefits include fewer failures and the potential to discover untapped options. Global digital marketing firm IDC concurs, projecting “digitally mature” companies will see productivity gains of $430B more by 2020 than those of late adopters.  

Using big data, an ecosystem of data gathered from a massive network of sensors related to the IoT, companies will have access to insights that will help them enact better operations. Meanwhile, blockchain will have an impact on supply chain along with, according to Michael J. Casey, chair of Coindesk’s board of advisor, machine learning, mobile money, 3D printing and digital identity.

Here’s three supply chain technologies that are a part of the digitization of supply chain.

Blockchain: It must be noted that Gideon Greenspan, CEO of Coin Sciences admits that “you’d be insane to use a blockchain,” if you are looking for a simple, short-term solution. However, in the long term, blockchain promises a more nimble, responsive and flexible supply chain. Obstacles such as relationships and geography can become less critical, thus improving consistency and reliability.

Internet of Things (IoT): At the core of a digital supply chain is the IoT. So far, it has increased productivity in companies to the tune of 15%, according to IDC and SAP. IoT-powered processes can make it easier to measure inventory, optimize routes, guarantee product quality, and track shipments.

Cognitive Computing: It’s going to take powerful new computer brains to make the sensor network of the IoT as useful as possible. Cognitive computing helps with the massive undertaking of synthesizing vast amounts of data into insights that decision-makers can actually use.