AWS recently announced general availability of its supply chain software package designed to help companies gain better visibility, make informed decisions, and reduce errors. Joanna Martinez, supply chain expert and Acceleration Economy practitioner analyst, shares her impressions in this discussion with Tom Smith.
This episode is sponsored by “Selling to the New Executive Buying Committee,” an Acceleration Economy Course designed to help vendors, partners, and buyers understand the shifting sands of how mid-market and enterprise CXOs are making purchase decisions to modernize technology.
01:52 — Joanna shares her thinking on the customers that are most likely to benefit from this supply chain technology. She notes a customer needs to be large enough to have inventory in multiple locations or have a large number of suppliers providing materials for their business. This could be a manufacturer, a retailer, or a business handling perishable goods such as flowers or food.
02:33 — AWS has made clear it’s capitalizing on functionality it uses to run the Amazon business. That means it’s been thoroughly tested over the years and incorporates lessons Amazon has learned.
02:53 — AWS is also bringing interesting inventory management and demand planning capabilities. The software ingests data from structured and unstructured sources, puts it into a data lake, and then creates a visual map of inventory. That supports insights on the correct balance of inventory by location.
03:54 — The software uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology to make the next round of recommendations even better than the last. It also recognizes that people are working remotely, so it provides a collaboration tool that allows people in multiple roles to get the same information at the same time. Everyone can see adjustments as they occur.
04:49 — There’s also sustainability functionality. A user provides parameters (for example, required level of inventory, patterns of lead time disruptions), and the software factors in sustainability — CO2 emissions and distance, for example — when making recommendations on how to rebalance.
06:15 — Joanna recommends that customers take “very seriously” the fact that Amazon itself uses this software.
07:02 — Demand planners typically spend all their time getting data and then using the data to develop insights. AWS is using AI and ML to develop insights, then effectively giving you recommendations that you can use to make adjustments. It learns from what you’re doing so that it can go back and do a better job next time. That shifts the demand planner’s role to focus on strategy versus just crunching data.
08:45 — Joanna says she’ll advise her clients, and customers more broadly, to kick the tires. There are no long-term contracts, so that’s appealing — especially for resource-constrained companies. AWS allows you to conduct testing at no charge. It’s an extremely low risk to go in and try it out.