For more years than I care to remember I have been banging on (and on...) about the imperative of ensuring the oft-overlooked 'poor relation' of Supply Chain be considered when evaluating contemporary, emerging technologies. Many people with whom I work acknowledge the fact that 'he's off on one again' and kindly humour and/or ignore my protestations that Supply Chain (in all its forms, processes and activities) is so ultra-critical to competitive Retail performance and ultimately growth.
With this in mind it's always gratifying to uncover real-world examples of individuals, enterprises and businesses which recognise the same simple fact: Supply Chain is not a Cinderella function but the crucial underpinning series of connected processes and activities which enables Retail to perform. Perhaps it's because we're approaching Panto season that I subconsciously attach the 'Cinderella' tag but I have long argued that long-established concepts and practices such as Demand Management, forecasting and Supply Planning using proven, reasonably effective yet pretty ancient statistical techniques can be greatly enhanced using the granular data now collected and collated as a result of ever-burgeoning Big Data ecosystems created by prolific IoT and sensor deployment.
Overlay this rich source of insight with the incredible power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) and it becomes possible to achieve real-time Event Stream Processing (EVP) capable of delivering real retail business value. The Inventory analysis and subsequent optimisation highlighted in this article on behalf of a genuine, high-profile retailer proves that maximising profitability by ensuring that it's possible to meet forecast demand by having the right products in the right place at the right time is a wholly attainable operational goal.
Here at Hitachi Consulting that's what we're all about...
AI-powered data analytics help retailers predict what customers are likely to buy in the near future. This enables retailers to maximize the probability of having the right items in stock as customers order them, which results in faster fulfillment and leaner inventory operations.