What Could Possibly Go Wrong

Havard Business Review has been putting out a series of articles on Artificial Intellience (AI) replacing all sorts of businesses management and labor including recently in the supply chain with article entitled The Death of the Supply Chain. https://hbr.org/2018/06/the-death-of-supply-chain-management. This article is in the June 15, 2018 issue.

To oversimplify what the article says, all the lower management people will be released and few data scientist types will be watching computer dashboard to see how the supply chain is running. Before I start to try to deconstruction this let me first say that higher levels of information and automation of repetitive tasks will change the supply chain in positive ways and will lead to some personnel changes. However lower management people should not yet being check if their local burger place needs somebody to flip their burgers.

The underlying flaw in the article is the author’s apparent lack of knowledge of how things get done in the real world. I put under the heading of “What Could Possibly Go Wrong”.   High level data is tremendously useful in managing operations.  But the actual execution part that is handled at much lower level. Yes, you can have the computer call in the trucker, but what if the carrier can take the load but two hours later than initially offered. That may be alright. It may be alright if the plant knows about the delay. As changes occur somebody using the system but outside the system needs to problem shoot. No program or AI system can anticipate everything. Importantly customers want people to resolve issues, not machines putting out data.

For large operations, the dashboard AI products will be very useful for a high level of the operation and seeing what issues come up analyzing the data. In large measure it will be the lower management level who will actually deal with resolving the issue.

For smaller and medium sized operation, undoubtedly third party will be available to provide analytics and data dashboard at a cost. The larger the operation the more this will be economically feasible.


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