December 14, 2016

FusionOps launches artificial intelligence tool for supply chain

FusionOps launches artificial intelligence tool for supply chain

Cognitive applications suite finds wrinkles in supply chain and suggests solutions.

By Ben Ames

Business analytics software provider FusionOps has launched a platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify opportunities to improve supply chain performance for customers such as manufacturers and enterprise corporations, the company said Tuesday.

The new "cognitive applications" product is an extension of Mountain View, Calif.-based FusionOps' existing suite of supply chain solutions, which use database analysis and machine-learning tools to help companies improve their forecasts, control costs, and hone inventory levels.

The platform uses embedded AI and machine learning to connect the dots between complex signals such as changes in demand, manufacturing, inventory, orders, and external factors. The system then suggests solutions and can even take corrective action in real time, without requiring human input.

The new suite comes in three main parts, with a search feature and a cognitive application to be available in Q4 2016 and a supply chain actions tool arriving later in 2017.

Using machine-learning algorithms to generate prescriptive analytics is growing in popularity among supply chain managers. In May, JDA Software Group Inc. announced a partnership with the logistics technology provider TransVoyant LLC intended to add predictive—and prescriptive—analytics to its transportation management software (TMS) platform.

In practice, the new FusionOps cognitive applications suite fits into a business at the strategic decision-making level, overseeing autonomous supply chain functions like the Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0, and automated last-mile delivery by drones, FusionOps director of product marketing David Hamdani said in a phone interview.

FusionOps collects data from enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools like SAP and Oracle, harmonizes it in a single cloud-based database, then applies data science algorithms to find solutions to business challenges such as sluggish growth, high customer expectations for fast fulfillment, and increasing global competition from emerging markets, Hamdani said.

The FusionOps algorithms continually scan the supply chain for new opportunities and then suggest a course of action for the user, Hamdani said. Those opportunities could include boosting product price to gain revenue when demand rises, improving cash flow to free up funds for new business ventures, or shipping products faster to gain market share when a competitor has a shortage.

The cognitive applications suite follows FusionOps' March release of a prescriptive analytics tool designed to leverage big data to help businesses make better supply chain decisions. The company has been growing fast since it landed $25 million from venture capitalists in April, and announced its intention to use the funds to continue developing its supply chain software tools.

About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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