Watson-like technology could be a tremendous asset to SCM professionals in a number of ways. Imagine Watson as:
Supply Chain Synchronizer -- SCM execs could more easily achieve the intricate synchronization of supply and demand by integrating Watson-like technology in an intelligent network. If the system could read a million books in a couple seconds, imagine how quickly it could gather information across all of the supply chain functions (planning, forecasting, scheduling, sourcing, transportation, manufacturing, distribution, inventory management, customer order fulfillment). Make-to-order would take on a whole new meaning and just-in-time deliveries would be a way of life for all industries.
It could also tap market intelligence, advanced analytics and varied customer communications and comments/sentiments from the social media sphere and be “at the ready” with answers to SCM executives’ broad-ranging queries as they try to preemptively identify potential fluctuations in consumer demand.
Product Lifecycle Lifeguard -- As product lifecycle traceability grows as a concern for many industries, imagine how easily Watson could track the information gleaned from smart devices as they tag products throughout the supply chain, as well as the containers and modes that are transporting them. Keeping its figurative finger on the pulse of RFID, GPS, sensors and actuators at all times, and blending this data stream with predictive planning and actual transactions (orders, inventory, shipments) should pose no problem for Watson. And it would be a reassuring source of information for SCM management.
Sustainability Savant -- Watson's analytics and modeling prowess could be used to evaluate inventories at all phases, from earth (raw material), to consumption, to afterlife... to achieve best inventory position and levels, while managing its effects on the environment. In addition to focusing on the distribution network, Watson could help provide advice on strategic sourcing concerns which are growing in importance as SCM managers design their networks for sustainability.