How AI in the supply chain can improve management decisions

August 20, 2019 Matt Vermeulen

Artificial intelligence (AI) in Supply Chain Management

It's one of those technologies that get a lot of air time in popular culture. What once seemed like science fiction is closer to reality than you may think—although maybe not exactly what you see in the movies. That’s because there’s now a mature use-case scenario for AI in all sorts of fields, including the supply chain, and it has the potential to positively shape the future of global trade. In fact, by taking advantage of a wealth of data, artificial intelligence — and artificial intelligence-driven supply chain management — can help you make smarter onboarding decisions, smarter approvals, and smarter payments. 


3 ways AI in the supply chain can help you make smarter supply chain decisions:


Onboard suppliers faster with machine learning

Getting your suppliers onboarded to your e-invoicing solution can be a headache. 

Some businesses, for example, may have 20 different records that suggest 20 different accounts. But those records also might point  to just one seller company. So you’ll have to waste considerable manual effort and time to sift through them all to confirm whether it’s one or multiple accounts. 

But companies using AI in the supply chain can actually do more intelligent and impactful onboarding by instantly looking through all of that data to see if those 20 different records are indicative of just one company or multiple. And then connecting to that company within seconds instead of hours of manual processing. Now multiply that by thousands of suppliers, and companies can save massive amounts of time. 

Make approvals smarter with AI

What if your approval requests were more intelligent? AI can increase efficiency by taking all the data about who's making the request, their position, their projects, the sellers they’re interacting with, and how it relates to the product the resources are folding into. And then it gives you the context to make a smarter decision than your typical human can do in real-time. 

It can give you an actual overview that shows that everything is in order, that it meets contract, that you’re within budget, and it flags any potential areas you should follow up on. Now that’s where  efficiency meets intelligence.

Make sense of all your business data 

Most companies are data rich but insight poor. They have all the information they could ever need, they just don’t have a simple way to make sense of it. That’s where AI comes in. Think about how much data you don’t use from documents like invoices because it’s unstructured or incorrectly formated. AI can take all of that information and categorize it for you. Now you’re not just sitting on data, but useful insights from which you can make more informed strategic decisions about your business. 


The future is intelligent

These are three ways that AI is changing supply chains today. If you’re looking for ways to bring value to your financial department, AI can immediately help you become more efficient and agile. 

And that’s just the start. Once intelligence is the baseline standard, then you can build on top of it to use AI to help you identify new business opportunities with companies you can trust. That’s because you are not just accumulating data anymore, but actually leveraging it to make decisions using AI-powered predictive analytics.

So today’s CFO’s and CPO’s in five years won’t be thinking about problems in the supply chain, they’ll be thinking of the opportunities. When all the trust and the rules are accounted for, you can focus on the core business that you’re trying to achieve. 

Watch our panel video to learn more about AI’s role in the supply chain


About the Author

Matt Vermeulen

Matt Vermeulen writes about B2B commerce for Tradeshift. Whether he's writing about Accounts Payable best practices or debunking AI myths, Matt enjoys making complex topics easy to understand and fun to read.

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