April 2022 | Commentary | Checking In

Artificial and Human Intelligence: An Unbeatable Combination

Tags: Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), Supply Chain Management, Demand Planning, Global Trade Management, Specialized Logistics, Technology

Keith Biondo is the publisher of Inbound Logistics magazine.

Investment in logistics technology—$26 billion in the past seven years—is white hot right now. Here’s a small sampling of the types of solutions that venture capitalists arefinancing:

  • An artificial intelligence (AI)-driven demand-prediction engine that helps lifestyle brands forecast how many units of a particular item will sell. The mission? To better match global inventory levels to demand before thedemand.
  • AI-powered warehouse management software solutions that optimize operations globally, while shaving costs and providing better fulfillmentpercentages.
  • A full-stack, low-cost agri-tech startup targeting farmers in developing countries that uses AI to bring process optimization tools to areas that previously were not plugged into the global technoweb.
  • Online marketplaces using AI to aggregate and deliver automobile and other spare parts on specialty e-commerce platforms. The value proposition: limit inventory investment and offer e-commerce-style delivery to “under-served” marketsectors.

AI, AI, AI! The buzz-worthiness of that acronym is driving billions in investment, and rightly so. We are all aware of what AI can do to power complex demand-driven solutions in a high-speed dynamic globalmarket.

OK, let me say it. AI driving the finest transportation and supply chain solutionscannotsolve all problems. Given the disproportionate emphasis on AI, especially in investment and news coverage, I want to posit a reminder that there are plenty of non-AI-driven technologies solving enterprise logistics challenges. You’ll find some of the best solutions in our annual Top 100 Logistics Technology Providers list (pg. 74) in thisedition.

I recently ran across an opinion piece by Michael Wax, managing director and co-founder of Forto, titled Combining Human Expertise With State-of-the-Art Logistics Technology. Back in 2018, I floated a similar idea, except I called it the Human Experience or HX. True then, truernow.

A recent example of combining human expertise with technology comes from Toyota Motor Company North America. Bob Young, group vice president of purchasing and supplier development, has access to a broad range of technology, including AI. It’s Toyota, after all. But it’s the giant whiteboard on the wall where Young and his team list and track the problems of the world and their related supply disruptions in up-to-the minute detail. In March, Young’s team and their whiteboard weretracking at least 70 threats to the production and delivery of Toyota vehicles to dealerships acrossAmerica.

A whiteboard, dry erase markers, and supply chain practitioners with superior skills and intelligence, along with the latest technology, create an unbeatable combination.






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