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Blue Yonder ICON 2024: Superpowered Supply Chains

By May 15, 2024Uncategorized

I am writing this from the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX while attend the 2024 Blue Yonder ICON conference. I believe this is my 10th time attending ICON, and every year it is worth the visit. This year’s conference brought together nearly 2,000 attendees for thought-provoking sessions, networking and learning opportunities, and a concert with OneRepublic. This year’s theme was supercharged supply chains, and in building off of its innovation shockwave from last year, that is exactly what Blue Yonder is trying to build.

Kicking off Blue Yonder ICON was CEO, Duncan Angove. A recurring sentiment this year was “move at the speed of change.” Mr. Angove touched on this sentiment throughout his keynote. At the 2023 Blue Yonder ICON event, Mr. Angove referred to the current situation as the beginning of an innovation shockwave. New platforms are being created by data clouds, artificial intelligence (AI), and robots. This will all culminate in the emergence of a new computing platform, built on the world’s largest supercomputer: the internet. Blue Yonder identified three main themes where it planned to spend $1 billion in research and development: customer experience and the cloud, accelerating all Blue Yonder roadmaps, and investing in new innovation.

At Blue Yonder ICON 20024, Mr. Angove reminded the audience that supply chains are mission critical, and the company has become an engineering-centric company. By that, he stated that the product comes first, and if it is built right, everything else will fall into place. For Blue Yonder, this means identifying gaps in the current end-to-end supply chain platform and filling those gaps. In the last six months, Blue Yonder has spent $1billion on acquisitions, including Doddle, flexis AG, and the pending acquisition of One Network.

Mr. Angove identified four key pillars to continue the innovation shockwave. The first pillar is innovation and building a best-in-class product. Gurdip Singh, Chief Product Officer and Andrea Morgan-Vandome, Chief Innovation Officer took the stage to talk about pillar 1. The company is enhancing its existing solutions, investing in the platform and AI, and launching additional cognitive solutions. For me, the cognitive solutions were the real highlight. Last year, Blue Yonder launched its cognitive demand planning application, which is the first application to be written natively on the data cloud. This ensures that there are no latency issues, and allows data to be shared more easily.

Blue Yonder has moved on from just cognitive planning, as Mr. Singh spoke about cognitive execution. Cognitive execution uses AI to optimize cost to serve and improve on-time, in-full delivery across planning, warehouse, transport, and order management. Within the warehouse, for example, it can find efficiencies across a number of uses cases including task and resource management, demand and supply management, and robotics.

The second pillar identified at Blue Yonder ICON is an end-to-end solution running on a common platform. To that end, Blue Yonder is using a single data cloud. Within the data cloud, rather than having data move to specific applications such as TMS, WMS, or SCP, the applications move to the data. This enables connectivity of all applications on a single platform. This enables end-to-end interoperability , where data converges to a single point of truth.

The third pillar for the continued innovation shockwave is next-gen AI. Blue Yonder has next-gen AI embedded in every solution; the company has connected next-gen AI to supply chain orchestration, and connected that with the entire portfolio. Mr. Angove made the point that supply chains run on speed. When you look at key metrics, they relate to speed: on-time delivery, inventory turns, throughput, dwell time, etc. With advanced solutions, batch processes are a thing of the past and companies can become more agile.

The fourth pillar is the composable journey. For companies, the idea is to replace processes that are costly and require a lot of manual effort with automation during implementations. Composable technology is tailored to the specific vision and budget of each customer and rolled out in phases that can provide expedited time to value. Having all the data on a single platform helps make these solutions composable.

Final Thought

Wayne Usie, Chief Strategy Officer and Patricia Harris, Chief Marketing Officer closed out the general session of Blue Yonder ICON 2024. The two of them tied together everything that Mr. Angove, Mr. Singh, and Ms. Morgan-Vandome touched on during their portions. The future of supply chains is end-to-end interoperability. Data converges to a single point of truth, and every decision a company makes affects other teams within the organization.

Mr. Usie and Ms. Harris highlighted two use cases for innovation. The first is the move from function-based planning to constraint aware planning. The second is the move from siloed planning and execution to synchronized planning and execution. Below is a graphic that breaks down the differences and shows the path that Blue Yonder is on to enable superpowered supply chain.

Function-Based Planning
Constraint Aware Planning

Limited point-to-point integration
Real-time access to entire data set

Based on history
Includes constraints and market conditions

Static
Dynamic

Plan adherence
Plan adaptively

Highly manual and guided by instinct
Highly automated and driven by data

 

Siloed Planning & Execution
Synchronized Planning & Execution

Competing and siloed KPIs
Cross-functional KPIs

Isolated data limiting optimal decisions
Entire data model informing insight and action

Siloed point solutions
Orchestrated workflows across supply chain

Manual interventions and guess work
Automated intervention, transparency

Phone calls, emails
Alerts and triggers

 

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