Q&A: AI and the supply chain

Shariq Mansoor, CEO of FusionOps, talks AI and the supply chain

AI and machine learning are getting tipped as the future of everything at the moment – from cybersecurity to the legal profession. So what about the supply chain? We catch-up with Shariq Mansoor, CEO of FusionOps to learn more.


Why does AI present such a big opportunity for the supply chain?

Artificial intelligence is an enormous opportunity across all industries, but the opportunity within the supply chain is uniquely large. Supply chain management has historically been a complex, information-intensive process, stifled by legacy systems and operations spanning dozens of countries and stakeholders. Furthermore, customer demand and global competition is skyrocketing while growth opportunities are shrinking. The market has reached a place where smarter, quicker and more agile operations no longer provide a competitive edge but are necessary for survival. This is where artificial intelligence and machine learning enter the picture – with these capabilities, organisations can connect the dots among distinct data sources, complex demand signals, manufacturing data, global inventory, orders and infinite quantities of external data that influence performance and operations.


How does FusionOps deliver on this potential?

For the last 11 years, FusionOps has been working to help companies transform operations and optimise supply chain performance. Our solutions have driven the evolution of supply chain management over the years but we have always believed that AI represented the single, biggest opportunity for supply chain transformation. Our newly launched cognitive applications represent a new layer of intelligence within the enterprise that can apply sophisticated machine learning techniques and artificial intelligence to identify and capitalise on opportunities that optimise business performance.


What does the new roadmap mean in practice?

Our first to-market cognitive applications encompass three primary functions: the ability to search critical terms in real time, the ability to continuously evaluate data and identify opportunities for operational improvement and the ability to act on those opportunities without human intervention.


What other companies are working in this space and how does FusionOps compete?

FusionOps offering is unique to the industry in that it brings domain expertise and predefined data models for existing enterprise systems. There are solutions that can do certain portions of what we do in terms of machine learning and AI but they are more specialised – IBM Watson comes to mind. If you are comparing apples with apples, our primary competitor would be the DIY approach with analyst and data scientist. This is not always strategic since 70% of data scientists’ time is spent indexing and collating information that FusionOps is able to automate.


Can this help deliver visibility into the supply chain? (And therefore help counteract the negative feelings some brands receive in this areas).

At its core, FusionOps is focused on delivering visibility to the entire supply chain to illuminate where improvements can be made. In looking at the supply chain from a holistic perspective companies are able to see where they can improve their operations, and where their supply chain is running best. Armed with this intelligence, companies can become more transparent about their production processes and build brand love with their customers.


What are the longer-term implications of an autonomous supply chain (to employment amongst other things)?

The autonomous supply chain is not about replacing jobs. It’s about evolving jobs, evolving businesses and enabling a business’ assets to work for the business as opposed to having them sit idle.

The autonomous supply chain will enable businesses to realize enormous efficiencies and free up time and resources that will allow them to focus on more important priorities rather than manual processes – creating more opportunities, not less.


Is there anything else you’d like to share?

One thing worth noting about FusionOps is that our users are decision-makers at all levels of the business. Everyone from the boardroom to the shop floor can easily find information using Google-like search and get recommendations to improve performance.



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