Info: The New AI Supply Chain

09 Mar

Supply chains are hugely significant in our world of physical products. Companies invest a lot of money and effort to continually optimize and improve them and that's unlikely to ever stop. Save 5% on transportation expenses? That's a big deal.

 As artificial intelligence starts to reshape our electronic world via AI-infused products, services, and processes, it will require its own supply chain: vast quantities of information. Mountains of information has to be continually gathered, processed, refined, and reassembled to produce the desired decision-making and intelligence.

Analytics taught us much the same thing. Only with AI, we're talking orders of magnitude more info. Good, data-enriched AI will be much more preferable to poor, data-starved AI.

If we accept the parade toward an AI-enabled planet, as Business leaders we have an important decision to make: Do we build our own digital distribution chains to feed our AI, or become the consumer of somebody else's distribution chain?

Like most things, the response is different.

Let us begin with an application every organization uses--ERP, the application that manages such processes like accounting, procurement, project management, and manufacturing. These systems are the backbone of most organizations and in-built AI functionality is poised to create a huge impact across several core business processes, such as demand planning.

The fantastic news is that there is a great deal of commonality in any given industry, a certain set of contemporary best practices. Individuals generally don't go about creating unique, creative options for, as an example, order-to-cash. Cloud software solution vendors can harness these similarities by offering easy-to-consume, AI-infused ERP applications, combining modest amounts of internal data with powerful models pre-trained on enormous amounts of external information.

So when it comes to build versus buy for AI-enabled core business processes, the response for many will be "buy."

Now let's shift the attention to how AI might make your organization unique in the view of your clients. Better, intelligence-infused merchandise? More and more personalized services?

We could learn something from our expertise using mobile applications. In the very first wave of these applications, they were nothing more than fairly skins over existing applications. We quickly realized that we needed to reengineer the entire user experience to become successful.

We will probably find the same with AI-infused user experiences. If anyone can easily do a Siri-like voice interface, where's the competitive edge? We will need to get much more involved with sourcing pertinent data, deciding on the perfect algorithms, and presenting it all into a unique and compelling way.

But we will not need to begin with a blank piece of paper, thankfully.

Many facets of the digital supply chain demanded for AI can be found today in easy-to-consume sort, thanks to cloud computing. Data enrichment as service. Data pipeline automation. Self-training models. Conversational interfaces. Safety and management. All prepared to be set to work.

Yes, you're building something special, but doing so with a huge head start. You'll be incorporating your distinctive price, but not reinventing the wheel.

Technology is rapidly transforming the world. New technologies provide us a strong incentive to tackle familiar issues in new ways.

I expect that just five years from today, a lot of us will care more about the digital distribution chains that nurture our AI as compared to physical ones that feed our warehouses.

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