The strength of any chain is defined by its weakest link. A supply chain, or as I prefer to say, a value network, is similarly constrained. By orchestrating the flow of material, information and cash through your value network, you can prevent negative business impact from weak links by detecting anomalies, diagnosing their causes, and directing the next best action before there is a serious business impact. Do you need some kind of self-aware artificial intelligence to make this work? Let’s think about that for a minute.
There is a lot of buzz about the “autonomous” supply chain these days. The subject came up at a conference I attended where the theme was the supply chain of 2030. But, before we turn out the lights and lock the door to a fully automated, self-aware, supply chain “Skynet”, let’s take a moment and put this idea into some perspective.
The Driverless Car Analogy
I’ve heard the driverless vehicle used as an analogy for the autonomous supply chain. However, orchestrating the value network where goods, information and currency pulse freely, fast, and securely between facilities, organizations, and even consumers, following the path of least resistance (aka the digital supply chain), may prove to be even more complex than driving a vehicle. Digital technologies, such as additive manufacturing, blockchain, and more secure IoT infrastructure, advance the freedom, speed and security of these flows. As these technologies makes more automation possible, as well as a kind of “autonomy”, the difficulty and importance of guiding these flows becomes ever more crucial.
Most sixteen-year-old adolescents can successfully drive a car, but you may not want to entrust your global value network to them.
Before you can have an autonomous supply chain, you need to accelerate the Detect, Diagnose, Direct Cycle – let’s call it the 3-D Cycle, for short, not just because it’s alliterated, but because each “D” is one of three key dimensions of orchestrating your value network. In fact, as you accelerate the 3-D Cycle, you will learn just how much automation and autonomy makes sense.
That’s Part 1 – the teaser. Soon to be followed by Part 2 where I take a closer look at the 3-D Cycle.
Thanks for stopping by. I’ll leave you with this bit of verse (public domain) to ponder from the great Emily Dickinson:
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. I’ve heard it in the chillest land, And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me.