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  • Ed Lawson

Key outputs from the March 2023 Intent Meeting: 'Future Fit'


A roomful of Supply Chain Leaders joined the Intent Meeting on 14th March 2023 to discuss new ways to tackle the current major challenges, and to explore opportunities to address these in future. Here's a rundown of some of the most discussed themes: Resilient Planning, Future Skills, Automation and Using AI to forecast and plan, provided by discussion leaders)



Key theme: resilience over cost

How have the recent 'black swan' supply chain disruptions changed approach and thinking around end to end visibility? Most organisations are still siloed to an extent, but has thinking changed around the benefit of responsiveness vs. cost? The answer to this is a resounding, 'yes'! This is manifested in

  • supplier relationships are more critical and valued than ever, at a human level.

  • customer segmentation is important: not just at a customer level. It's also valuable to segment by product and supplier level.

  • ability to serve customers trumps cost: whilst efficiency will always be key, it's accepted that valuable customers are the priority

  • large companies are still siloed and not real-time. Operating end to end requires better process and enabling technology

  • changing legislation brings greater challenges

  • KPIs across the supply chain must be better aligned

With thanks to our discussion hosts, Martin Croucher of The Logic Factory, and Enver Revazov of Dassault.


Other areas discussed included a very popular discussion around 'supply chain skills' - what's changing, and how do you ensure that you are equipped to handle the rapidly shifting move towards automation, digitalisation and agile supply chain?

As well as ensuring you attract the next generation of professionals into supply chain, Malcolm Ritchie of Baringa puts it that this discussion highlighted "the need for us to be data geeks, story tellers and functional experts."


In our physical automation discussion, hosted by Simon Dixon of Hatmill, we examined the obstacles to automation, and flexible 'Automation 2.0' approaches vs. more traditional large scale automation. Opinion on approach was divided, but Simon summed up some of the advice that held true for this discussion:

"To avoid common pitfalls and extended timeframes, businesses need a clear evaluation and approval process to manage the introduction of automation. Take internal stakeholders on every step of the automation journey with you. It makes getting business approval so much easier. Finally, don't tie yourself to one automation provider too early in the process."


Covid disruption to supply chains is well documented. The question we sought to address in a third discussion was 'how can AI be used to avoid disruption?' Bertrand Rio of Peak.ai shared his key advice:

  • Data is the next best thing to manage uncertainty. For example using data to forecast demand or segment customers.

  • Challenges to bring value from these data projects: disparate data silos, not the right tech, short supply of data science and advanced analytics skills - Key is finding the right partners to leverage this data using AI to make better decisions and drive growth and revenue

  • AI Intelligence will not replace human intelligence but it can help with 90% of the decisions that are time consuming and challenging so humans can focus on the strategic 10%



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