I interviewed Chris Gopal who discussed The Intelligent Supply Chain.





I have nearly 35 years of experience in operations and supply chain. I've been involved in the industry as an executive with companies such as Dell computer, as a VP in Worldwide Operations. I've also been involved in management consulting, where I used to run Ernst & Young's Global Supply Chain and Operations Consulting Group, and with Unisys. My background has crossed both consulting and industry. So, I bring both perspectives.


Can you talk about what is intelligence in supply chain?


Yes, Let's talk about supply chain intelligence and its characteristics. The intelligent supply chain essentially manages, at high speed, all the various product and information movements, risks and events that occur in the global supply chain.


So, for instance, it's collecting information from a wide variety of sources, everything from customers to suppliers and everything in between. It's dashboards to understand very quickly what's going on. It's analytics to figure out not only what went on and what is happening at the present,but what will go on. And then lastly, it's talent management and the capabilities of the people to interpret this and to manage the supply chain.


So, intelligence involves information, data, analytics, response, strategy, and people.


What does intelligent supply chain mean?


What it essentially means is that it's a supply chain from the customers from suppliers' point of supply to the end customer and back, that anticipates what's going to happen, then reacts to things that are happening and have happened very quickly, that makes the best decisions and tradeoffs in achieving the supply chain's ultimate goals, which are satisfying customers and managing the brand equity, generating cash, and maintaining a cost structure that's very competitive, all while mitigating the risks inherent in the environment.


Where is the intelligent supply chain going?


It's going very quickly into a supply chain that consists of two different levels. The first level at the bottom is automation of decisions based on information coming from a variety of sources, structured and unstructured. At a higher level, it's high capabilities in the people who manage the supply chain to set the direction and respond to changes.


So, intelligent supply chain is not just information, analytics, big data and the internet of things, but it is layered over by high capability people. And that last is what talent management is all about.


Do you have any recommendations?


I think there are two here. The first is to look at the people and this requires skills assessment, very good executive and managerial education and training in new technologies and new ways of doing things.


The second involves managing data along the supply chain, looking at, for instance, what’s called the internet of things and Manufacturing 4.0. Some people call it the internet of everything. But pretty much everything is connected today. Collecting the data, providing the dashboard and information and metrics that tell people where it's going, what's going to happen, and then providing the analytics and cognitive computing that predict what's going to happen; that predict what the consequences in the supply chain will be; and that allows you to do scenario planning and what-if analysis on the various decisions that are being made. At a higher level, it can make the decisions that don’t really require human intervention.


Three pieces. It’s information with insight, and talent management.





About Chris Gopal



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Chris Gopal

Global Supply Chain & Operations Consultant and Educator

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