Role of AI in Global Supply Chain Sustainability



Sustainability has become a primary concern for companies worldwide. It’s a topic that’s widely discussed, with an increasing emphasis and attention being devoted to it.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a game-changer with the potential to revolutionize global supply chain management and its sustainability objectives. It can act as a valuable assistant, aiding operations and customer service organizations in performing their roles more efficiently. The era of supply chain sustainability started over 15 years ago, spearheaded by Walmart’s then-CEO, Lee Scott.

Drivers of the Renewed Focus on Sustainability

Why is sustainability gaining traction, and what’s driving this renewed focus?

Recent global events, such as the war in Ukraine and energy crises, have significantly disrupted global dynamics. The COVID pandemic of 2020 acted as a catalyst and accelerator. Initially, the situation pushed sustainability to the background, but as of 2023, companies are approaching it with renewed vigor. Customers, especially the younger generation, are playing a pivotal role in this shift. They have become more environmentally conscious and demand sustainability from brands. Overall, consumers are better informed and more socially responsible regarding environmental sustainability.

Today, young professionals prioritize a company’s environmental commitments when seeking employment. This emphasis on sustainability is a global trend. Investment communities and regulators are also actively promoting sustainable practices. There’s a collective push from various sectors to instigate global change.

The Role of Technology in Sustainability

So, how can technology be harnessed to address these pressing issues?

Technologies like AI and Blockchain are evolving, offering cognitive capabilities that shift companies from traditional decision-support systems to innovative decision-making platforms. These tools are more than just decision aids; they can autonomously make decisions. This shift reduces waste and inefficiencies, and puts a stronger focus on sustainability and carbon footprints.

There’s a growing industry-wide emphasis on sustainability, with significant investments flowing into these groundbreaking technologies.

Learning from Past Disruptions

One key observation from past patterns is that many events labeled “unforeseen” are, in fact, predictable. Whether it’s natural disasters like floods, fires, earthquakes, volcanoes, or pandemics, a common thread runs through these disruptions. The crucial question is, are we learning from them? Thankfully, technology now enables machines to learn – through Machine Learning (ML) – allowing systems to model and anticipate such events. With comprehensive global data at their disposal, these systems can make informed decisions on our behalf, genuinely elevating their cognitive abilities.

While companies continue to innovate, it’s essential to recognize the invaluable role human experts play. They provide expertise, contextual understanding, and judgment, ensuring that decisions based on AI and ML insights are sound and actionable.

Distinguishing Factors for Industry Leaders

So, what distinguishes industry leaders from the rest?

It’s safe to assume that, at some point during their day-to-day journey, most stakeholders have to grapple with confusing, conflicting, inaccurate, and out-of-date information. It’s inactionable, derails quality, and puts teams in firefighting mode. However, by integrating AI and ML systems, companies can significantly enhance their operations. The ultimate aim for most organizations is to offer an exceptional user experience while transparently showcasing their commitment to sustainability goals. This article merely touches on the vast array of topics within this realm. There are countless facets to explore.

Sustainability is undeniably a global priority, both for organizations and individuals. Everyone seeks to get it right. The cost of not adapting can result in significant delays and errors. AI and ML can address challenges like miscommunication, information silos, and a lack of actionable data. As technology advances, it embeds resilience into our digital frameworks. However, it’s crucial to continually reassess these assumptions, especially given the global events that challenge us. A commitment to innovation and belief in the transformative power of research and development will indeed shape our future.

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