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Mary HeiserDirector, Industry & Product Marketing, FourKites

At FourKites’ Visibility Conference, a panel of experts moderated by CNBC’s Lori Ann LaRocco set out to provide attendees with actionable information for taking advantage of artificial intelligence. With AI becoming more accessible through tools like ChatGPT and Bard, supply chain professionals can vastly improve their operations.

Discussion among Philippe Gilbert, Managing Director at Arco Consulting International, Joe Wildes, Chief Innovation Officer at ARMADA, Tom Bianculli, Chief Technology Officer at Zebra Technologies and Priya Rajagopalan, Chief Product Officer at FourKites, underscored three things to consider when looking to implement AI-powered solutions.

Here’s the panelists’ advice for supply chain leaders:

1. Unlock Your Data for AI Transformation

While some companies have leveraged AI in their supply chain for years, we have not yet seen widespread integration and adoption. To truly harness its potential, supply chain leaders must first:

  • Understand their data and identify gaps: The supply chain industry is inundated with data. Before diving into AI initiatives, assessing their feasibility is vital. Key considerations include data availability, quality and usability.
  • Get executive buy-in: It’s crucial to articulate the value of AI to decision-makers. One way to do this is by ensuring your data strategy aligns with corporate strategy. When everyone understands how capturing and leveraging the right supply chain data can accelerate business goals, it becomes easier to move forward in your digital transformation journey.

“It’s all about the data: Is it available? Is it of quality enough to at least get started? Can you use it?”
— Joe Wildes, Chief Innovation Officer, ARMADA

2. Be Strategic About Your AI Deployment

The mere presence or adoption of AI in an organization doesn’t guarantee transformative results. For AI to have a profound and lasting impact, its deployment must be rooted in strategy. This involves:

  • Having a clear purpose: Organizations must have a clear vision of what they aim to achieve with AI. Identify the outcomes you wish to achieve with AI and take a reverse engineering approach to ensure that AI initiatives align with broader business goals.
  • Assessing risk and feasibility: Before integrating AI, companies should weigh the associated risks and cherry-pick opportunities with the highest success potential. A scoring model can help evaluate the feasibility of projects.
  • Taking an iterative approach: Perfection is the enemy of progress. Organizations should identify areas where AI can provide immediate value and pursue them first. Such wins can pave the way for further innovation.

“Most people likely believe that AI can do amazing things, but far fewer will say their organization can do amazing things with AI. That’s why it’s critical to go after the low-hanging fruit, the simple wins.”
— Priya Rajagopalan, Chief Product Officer, FourKites

3. Have Teams Experiment with AI as a Co-pilot

Adopting AI can be an unknown frontier for professionals at every level of an organization. To drive adoption, help teams understand how AI can act as a supportive tool that makes them more effective in their role. Supply chain leaders should focus on:

  • Enhancing productivity: With the help of AI and machine learning, professionals can swiftly sift through and analyze vast amounts of real-time data. In turn, AI can transform work processes, making them more efficient. As a result, employees can reclaim time to focus on strategic projects.
  • Empowering people to act: AI can identify potential risks, sometimes before they happen. These early warnings not only offer frontline teams ample time to react, but many AI-powered solutions can also provide a range of solutions. Such proactive measures empower employees, giving them control over unforeseen challenges and potentially reducing stressful escalations.

“One of the biggest challenges is not the technology itself, but change management — the people. Leaders should really think that part through and work backward to the outcome. Pulling the teams together to do that is critical.”
— Tom Bianculli, Chief Technology Officer, Zebra

With all the hype surrounding AI, it can be easy to get lost in the noise. But supply chain leaders shouldn’t lose sight of the very real ways it can significantly improve their day-to-day operations. If you want more tips to advance — or begin — your journey, download our AI in Supply Chain Checklist.

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