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Brands to develop self-driving supply chains

By Retail Technology | Monday June 17 2019 spoke to Aera Technology about building real-time supply chain management and analytics systems

Branded consumer industry manufacturers in the CPG, apparel and home sectors are facing unprecedented pressure to adapt at the pace required to keep up with rapidly changing supply and demand dynamics.

The growth of ecommerce has provided new direct-to-consumer (D2C) opportunities for innovation and differentiation. But it has also added unprecedented levels of complexity into supply chains.

Split shipments for store and online distribution, drop shipping, and tougher on-time and in-full (OTIF) delivery requirements are adding pressure on brands to increase supply chain speed, accuracy and efficiency.

Consumer demand

Stock-keeping unit (SKU) proliferation and new channel or market expansion in response to diversified consumer demand also increases the need to gain a real-time view of supply chain performance.

“At the end of the day, brands don’t know when the likes of Amazon are going to place an order that clears them out,” said Frederic Laluyaux, Aera Technology president and chief executive.

“They are moving from a macro to micro view of management, where lead-time windows can no longer be six months or more. We’ve built technology to enable this within the constraints of transactional ERP systems.”

Laluyaux argues that traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP), business intelligence (BI) and data analytics systems are too slow and clunky to deliver the agility brands now need to run profitable businesses.

Cognitive automation at cloud scale

Aera Technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) based machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to deliver what it calls real-time “cognitive automation at cloud scale” or  the “self-driving” supply chain.

Its reliance on AI powered, in-memory data analytics can provide real-time recommendations based on the indexing, correlation and normalisation of raw data from multiple systems into a single information model.

The provider has patented crawling technology that collects, indexes and harmonizes data from transactional enterprise systems and external sources in a similar approach to Google’s search capability.

Cloud encrypted data extraction and processing enables dynamic accessibility and analysis. “Our CognitiveOS delivers real-time recommendations and predictions and can take action on-the-fly,” said Laluyaux. 

Processing engine

Aera also offers a skills builder and library for domain-specific management capability and insight. Cognitive Demand Management can, for example, adjust forecasts, and sales and demand plans based on its analysis.

This skill relies on its cloud-based, AI-driven query and processing engine to answer questions like, “What is the expected revenue uplift from new products?” and “How accurate is my sales forecast?” 

Laluyaux added the concept of cognitive supply chain automation to orchestrate processes across diverse, legacy transactional systems was already producing results for the world’s largest brand manufacturers. 

Existing Aera Technology clients include CPG and pharmaceutical giants, Johnson & Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser and Merck.  

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