Machine learning and AI trusted to automate supply chains

A new report uncovers how innovation in process automation, fueled by trusted data, is key to creating a robust supply chain during economic uncertainty

New global research has highlighted an increased appetite to explore more advanced automation technologies for building robust supply chains, with nearly half of all respondents indicating intelligent automation, such as AI and machine learning, is key to their growth over the next 24 months.

The benchmark report Process Automation in Supply Chain - produced by Data company Precisely, in collaboration with SAPinsider - shows that 51 per cent of respondents cite resiliency as the top supply chain concern driving the need for process automation, with agility close behind at 46 per cent. A backdrop of disruptive world events means businesses are increasingly battling against global supply chain disruption, as well as mounting pressures to keep pace with changing consumer preferences for digital, local, and sustainable goods, say researchers, resulting in an urgent need for supply chain transformation.

The research found that 89 per cent of respondents believe process automation in the supply chain is either “important” or “very important” to attain digital transformation objectives. However, a major gap remains between where the industry needs to be and where it currently stands: Nearly three-fourths (72 per cent) indicated that less than 50 per cent of their supply chain processes are currently automated, with this dropping to just 25 per cent for a further one-third of the respondents.

It also uncovers an increased appetite to explore more advanced automation technologies as businesses plan for 2023 and beyond, with nearly half of all respondents (47 per cent) stating intelligent automation, such as AI and machine learning, is a key capability they are considering implementing over the next 24 months.

Supply chain capabilities help in uncertain times

“With recent world events including the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and impacts from climate change, it’s no surprise that supply chain resiliency is top of mind for businesses worldwide,” says Mark Vigoroso, Chief Content Officer at SAPinsider. “While adoption of technologies has been slow to date, the need to create a resilient supply chain ecosystem has never been more apparent, and we’re seeing organisations increasingly turn to process automation as a way to build robust supply chain capabilities and help navigate the uncertainty in the market.”

“These new findings from SAPinsider highlight the importance of automation when it comes to complex, data-intensive SAP processes, such as for supply chain,” says John Reda, SVP – Product Management for Data Integration at Precisely. “The Precisely Automate Evolve platform, formerly Winshuttle Evolve, helps customers to gain agility and speed by simplifying and streamlining processes. The flexible, scalable nature of the platform helps create and maintain resilient supply chains - delivering increased efficiency, visibility and governance that improve results and reduce the risks inherent in today’s unpredictable business environment.”

The research additionally shows that the key objectives for deploying process automation have become more strategic over time, and include the realisation of benefits, including end-to-end process visibility (82 per cent), increased process efficiency (79 per cent), defining and documenting standardisation (77 per cent), Integrated processes across the end-to-end supply chain (75 per cent), and building internal skillsets (72 per cent).

“Ultimately, supply chain resilience relies upon a programmatic approach for improving end-to-end process visibility and risk monitoring. To be successful, supply chains must become both digital and autonomous to keep pace with disruptive global events and changing consumer expectations,” says Reda. “It’s clear that process automation is critical, but the success of digitised processes and workflows will also rely upon the accuracy, consistency and context of the data feeding them. Supply chain transformation, fueled by data integrity, will be the key to confident decision-making during the uncertain times ahead.”

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