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Can AI Help with Supply Chain Headaches?

Microsoft announces new Supply Chain Platform to serve as an AI-powered “command center” for enterprises.

Supply chain disruptions might not be as severe as they were during the height of the pandemic, but they are still a barrier to companies  looking to get their products to market on schedule. The persistent problems are in part due to the war in Ukraine and China’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 lockdown policies that have hindered delivery of electronics like the iPhone and raw materials for the construction and automotive industries.

On Monday, Microsoft unveiled a new software platform to help organizations stay on top of this challenge. The Microsoft Supply Chain Platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) alongside features for collaboration, low-code and security to provide a “command center” for enterprise supply chains, according to a Microsoft news release.

Microsoft is also previewing Microsoft Supply Chain Center, a part of the overall platform designed to work natively with an organization’s supply chain data and applications with built-in collaboration, supply and demand insights and order management. The goal is to foster supply chain visibility and positive transformation for companies.

The Supply Chain Center includes several prebuilt modules to address supply chain disruptions across supply and order fulfillment. A supply and demand insights module relies on Azure AI models to predict upstream supply constraints and shortages. Organizations can also put their data to use and perform simulations to optimize the network and prevent stockouts, overstocking and missed orders. The module also works in conjunction with a smart news insights tool that issues alerts about real-world events that could impact the supply chain. An order management module allows companies to quickly adapt to meet future order volumes and changing fulfillment demands through a rules-based system that uses real-time omnichannel inventory data, AI and machine learning.

Together, the Supply Chain Platform and Supply Chain Center aim to provide a command center for logistics managers to harmonize data from across systems, including Dynamics 365 and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems from SAP, Oracle and others.

“Businesses are dealing with petabytes of data spread across legacy systems, ERP, supply chain management and point solutions, resulting in a fragmented view of the supply chain,” said Charles Lamanna, corporate vice president of Microsoft Business Applications and Platform, in the news release. “Supply chain agility and resilience are directly tied to how well organizations connect and orchestrate their data across all relevant systems. The Microsoft Supply Chain Platform and Supply Chain Center enable organizations to make the most of their existing investments to gain insights and act quickly.”

The platform harnesses Microsoft Cloud, which integrates Azure, Dynamics 365, Teams and Power Platform to allow customers to develop or independently adopt capabilities for their supply chain needs. Additionally, Microsoft Dataverse enables customers to create thousands of connectors for greater visibility at all points of the supply chain, develop custom workflows with low-code solutions in Power Platform, and securely collaborate via Teams. In addition to providing deeper insights, the platform can also help companies minimize the carbon footprint of their supply chain.

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