The AI opportunity for the supply chain


Our latest ‘Ask the Experts’ report looks at how AI can be harnessed to revolutionise the supply chain. In line with the launch of the report, we’ve produced a series of blogs to explore the key themes included in the report. In our second blog, we highlight the opportunities AI brings.

Traditional approaches to supply chain technology have attempted to provide end to end ‘control tower’ services to give better visibility across the supply chain, utilising optimisation and scenario deployment tools to improve organisations’ ability to predict problems and trends.

However, conventional technology solutions have struggled to integrate with all existing systems or access both structured and unstructured data to give the real-time visibility needed.

That is, until now. AI has the potential to solve key supply chain challenges. Harnessed correctly, AI can:

  • Quickly read, understand and bring together data
  • Access all relevant internal and external feeds.
  • Deliver unprecedented, real-time visibility
  • Proactively predict trends and disruptions

A hallmark of AI is that it can learn as it progresses, it can also be used to create collaborative working spaces where supply chain professionals can harness expertise.

Supported by such a powerful, intelligent assistant, supply chain operatives can be freed up to move beyond firefighting issues and holding a transactional role.


Multinational technology company Lenovo wanted to harness AI to help it access structured and unstructured data across its supply chain and provide predictive analytics to drive action.

The organisation looked at multiple solutions, but was attracted to IBM’s Watson Supply Chain Insights (WSCI), as not only does it provide visibility across the entire supply chain, it is also built on Watson, which has proven capabilities across industry. Importantly, WSCI was able to demonstrate value incredibly quickly over an initial five week programme.


With six fulfilment centres, 30 ERP systems, thousands of third party data sources and over 11,000 suppliers, technology giant IBM’s supply chain is incredibly large and complex.

The organisation wanted to improve transparency, better understand and meet the supply demand balance and bring people together to share intelligence and expertise to better respond to disruptions.

Using WSCI, IBM was able to gain end to end supply chain visibility across systems and data sources, retrieving data up to 90% faster. It was also able to proactively predict and mitigate disruptions with greater ease, allowing them to cut expedite costs by over 50%. Overall savings over a three year period amounted to $40m – a massive return on the investment made in building and training the system.

To find out more about the challenges face by supply chain professionals and a detailed account of how AI can help, download the full report here.

Talk to us if you want to learn more.

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