Last month, I had the pleasure of presenting at the 2024 Gartner® Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™, held in Barcelona, Spain. While the event attracted over 2,000 attendees from all over the world, what struck me was that we’re all facing the same challenges today as supply chain professionals.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Rethink Supply Chain” — and many of my personal conversations there revealed an urgency among supply chain professionals to drive transformational innovative. Many people I spoke with expressed a need to re-imagine their foundational supply chain practices, instead of looking for smaller, incremental improvements in capability.

In the past, forces like the COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst upon the world’s supply chains, revealing their inherent vulnerabilities that pre-dated the pandemic and forcing them to adapt to new conditions, thereby defining the value they could deliver. But, based on my personal experience, today the question on people’s minds appears to be, “How can our supply chains instead drive change by creating their own unique value, instead of merely reacting to external forces?”

For example, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are transforming nearly every facet of our personal and professional lives today. I believe the world’s supply chains can either embrace these advancements and leverage them to add new kinds of value — or risk being left behind and struggling to catch up later. The key, however, is to not just use AI to digitalize existing processes, but to look at different ways of working, enabled by using AI, to drive real transformation.

I was proud to see many Blue Yonder customers take the stage and highlight how they’re using our AI- and ML-enabled solutions to rethink their supply chains and redefine their value propositions. The presenters in Barcelona were inspiring and impressive. It gave me — and, I’m sure, many other attendees — a renewed sense of optimism about the important role supply chains can play in a world that’s being transformed before our eyes.

The New Game-Changer? Anti-Fragile Operations

While we’d all love to see supply chains being 100% proactive and leading with innovation, instead of being reactive, the reality is that we can never eliminate the external forces that act upon our supply chains. Disruptions like extreme weather and geopolitical events will always remain a fact of life. But we can mitigate their effects, and re-establish control over our supply chains, by building our planning and execution processes for anti-fragility. It’s a competitive imperative and a true game-changer that just about every company seems to be investing in.

Supply chain resiliency is based on identifying a disruption in advance, understanding its impact and pivoting in a synchronized way, quickly, to minimize that impact. But, in my view, a significant obstacle is that most companies lack decision-centric processes. Even if they see a disruption coming, they lack the ability to quantify its impact across the end-to-end supply chain. Further, most supply chains are too disconnected and inflexible to act in time, and in concert, to avoid added costs, delays and other negative consequences of disruption.

Is Resiliency Achievable? Blue Yonder Enables It Every Day

In today’s unpredictable global business environment, achieving resiliency to every disruptive force seems nearly impossible. In my own session in Barcelona — called “How AI, Synchronization and Orchestration Are Propelling Supply Chains to Resiliency” — I illustrated how advanced technology, such as a data cloud and generative AI, along with innovative new planning capabilities, are placing resiliency within the reach of every company.

Imagine all you need in terms of planning and execution capabilities available on a single platform, supporting business decisions across organizational domains in real time by consuming the same data and natively communicating with one another. New end-to-end workflows ensure that, when a disruption inevitably occurs, the supply chain acts fluidly, flexibly and collaboratively to resolve it — driving a “good for the business” outcome, instead of chasing improvements in narrow functional metrics.

Our customers who are running integrated, cloud-native planning and execution solutions on Blue Yonder Platform are realizing incredible benefits in improving customer service, while also driving out costs and efficiencies. Because AI and ML exceed the capabilities of human cognition — both in their depth and speed of analysis — supply chain teams can be confident that Blue Yonder planning and execution software is fueling fact-based, data-driven decisions that strategically correct the supply chain’s course. Increasingly, it’s a self-correction enabled by Blue Yonder’s combination of advanced data science, AI and decision automation.

Blue Yonder is leading the rethinking of the world’s supply chains by transforming planning and execution from brittle, static, silo-based activities to a fluid, connected digital ecosystem — in which it’s easy to decide and embark on the right path. That’s great news for the world’s supply chain teams who are actively pursuing increased resiliency and rethinking their foundational supply chain processes.

But there’s even better news: Blue Yonder is just getting started. Our cloud-native, multi-tenancy infrastructure — complemented by composable microservices and powered by Snowflake for unprecedented scalability — has already established a new category of supply chain software. We’re investing over $1 billion in innovations over the next three years to further expand on that vision. For example, we’re increasing our investment in generative AI and our innovative Blue Yonder Orchestrator solution, which will support even greater decision automation and provide strategic recommendations on demand, in response to user queries.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my time in Barcelona was hearing how our work at Blue Yonder resonates with the real-world needs of supply chain teams. From listening to presentations to having one-on-one conversations with other attendees, it’s clear that supply chain reinvention, innovation and resiliency are top priorities today — and Blue Yonder has already been working to anticipate and meet those needs.

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