Supply Chain

Innovating in Supply Chain with AI and Blockchain

Share this post:

Supply Chain is ripe for applying disruptive emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain and IoT to improve supply chain automation, visibility, operations, and performance. At IBM, we’re excited to apply AI to everything from optimizing orders for omnichannel delivery to bringing visibility to inbound risk on suppliers. We’ve invested millions in research and development to drive continuous innovation across our own supply chain and in the solutions we’re building for clients, from Watson Supply Chain to IBM Blockchain, IoT, and Analytics. Here are some of the recent innovations we’ve delivered:

AI for Orders and Inventory

This year Frost & Sullivan, Forrester and IDC have all cited IBM as a leader in Order Management.* In September, we released IBM Order Management v10, a major step forward for our software clients that want to take advantage of store operations to monitor inventory and fulfillment network, enable models for continuous improvement for holidays and promotional market downs, and associate and manager dashboards to better analyze the situation. We’ve delivered new capabilities for hybrid cloud implementations including container services, microservices, and IBM Private Cloud Certification.

IBM Order Optimizer leverages AI and machine learning to help clients drive inventory optimization and secure optimal safety stock, as well as provide better insight into where the inventory should go in the first place. We also understand our clients have far more complex supply chains than ever before, with more variation across stores, dealers and marketplaces. IBM Inventory Visibility and Store Inventory Management Service provide a global view across all of those channels and geographies to empower prospective clients and sales associates to know precisely where inventory is. AI is helping to improve accuracy around availability, seamless online-to-in-store experiences, and lower safety stock to meet client demands. We’re re-inventing the way orders impact store engagement by elevating the role of stores into the central fabric of not just client engagement, but as a key part of the optimized fulfillment and returns process.

Blockchain for Supply Chain Business Network

IBM Supply Chain Business Network (SCBN) has grown to be one of the largest networks in the world – and the first network at scale to leverage AI to give clients true insight into their B2B transactions, with more than 400,000 trading connections. We’re innovating our platform with Blockchain in support of modern and future workloads. This new blockchain-based capability, Shared Ledger, ensures that all participants across your supply chain stay informed and connected on events and changes in your business transactions – from order to delivery – without compromising security or confidentiality. Designed to support permissioned, multi-party collaboration, blockchain-enabled applications on SCBN will be a game changer for reducing, or perhaps even eliminating, friction in supply chain. These applications will alleviate challenges like shipment visibility, invoice reconciliation, managing unsaleables, traceability and more – without requiring clients to migrate or undo years of existing investment in their B2B exchanges.

Finally, we are laser focused on continuing to modernize our robust software as a platform of services that our clients can subscribe to, so we can continue to fully support their business goals and evolving usage patterns in ways that are specialized for their business.

I’m truly excited about the progress we’ve made for our clients this year – and we’ve got much more in store for 2019. We’re excited to bring you along on our journey.


*Sources: IDC Marketscape: Worldwide Distributed Order Orchestration for Mid Market Retailers 2018 Vendor Assessment (doc # #US44100918, July 2018); IDC Marketscape: Worldwide Distributed Order Orchestration for Enterprise Retailers 2018 Vendor Assessment (doc #US42174918, July 2018)

Vice President Strategy and Offering Management, Supply Chain Solutions, IBM Watson Customer Engagement

More Supply Chain stories

Do you need to invest in a new order management system?

“Improving the customer experience” has become a mantra for retailers lately. Everyone wants to bring in new customers. The average retail business spends over 4 percent of their annual revenue on marketing in an effort to welcome new customers–– that’s more than any other industry. Yet many of these same retailers are also running their […]

Continue reading

Timing is everything when it comes to customer expectations

As quickly as the world is changing, there are still fundamental human connections and relationships that are more valuable than a “double tap” on an Instagram post.  Whether it’s celebrating a milestone birthday, gathering around the family table, or even a “just because” moment… each of these things represent people coming together to appreciate and […]

Continue reading

Are you rowing in a circle, or working together to deliver powerful digital experiences?

Creating compelling, meaningful experiences is hard.  Sometimes it feels like IT and the line of business are working at cross-purposes or speaking different languages.  IT wants to create a secure, scalable platform that they can rely on and run cost-effectively.  The business is looking for tools they can use to quickly understand their audience and […]

Continue reading