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Intelligent Technology and the Supply Chain

8 Jun 2015 by John Carnahan

The projected technology spend for supply chain software and related products was projected at $10 billion in 2014. (Gartner)


What does intelligent technology mean to me? I’ll start with what it doesn’t mean: beefed-up specs, speeds and feeds. It’s not even about the general capabilities of a given piece of technology.

Too often, we try to combat real business issues with features instead of taking a holistic look at processes, resourcing and the benefit conveyed in the end-user experience.

From where I stand, intelligent technology is defined based on its ability to augment our business processes to enable us to meet or exceed our business objectives. Intelligent technology is intelligent because it doesn’t require you to sacrifice business needs, or bend over backward to implement and manage it.

Our business objectives are simple: Deliver an exceptional experience for our clients, both internal and external. But delivering that exceptional experience becomes markedly more difficult and complex as more businesses go global, the workforce expands and demands increase.

That’s why it’s absolutely crucial that those of us in operations and supply chain embrace the concept of intelligent technology. 

We’re now expected to manage a volume of transactional data daily that would have been unbelievable 10 years ago, and to do it with unprecedented efficiency. This simply won’t be possible in the coming years without the intelligent technology necessary to quickly highlight exceptions in processes and enable alternative operational activities.

Most importantly, we need to leverage intelligent technology with key business processes and resourcing in order to optimize the end-user experience. Those three pieces need to work in concert to maximize results and drive a true competitive advantage.

This all might sound complicated and far off — but it’s happening right now. The intelligent aspect of technology is really just about its ability to direct our focus and attention, and provide data that can lead to alternative solutions to a problem. Whether that relates to product lead times and availability, transportation or logistics tracking, it’s not just about the data; it’s about the intelligence within the information that’s critical to a truly optimized process and client experience.

You can have the latest and greatest in tech, but without it being able to provide those intelligent insights while conforming to processes and people, in a decade, all you’ll have is an expensive paperweight.