October 8, 2019

IBM unveils Sterling Supply Chain Suite

Open architecture platform can use AI and blockchain to adjust to disruptions and opportunities, firm says.

By DC Velocity Staff

Technology giant IBM Corp. today unveiled an integrated supply chain suite embedded with artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, saying the platform was open to developers in a move to help users make their organizations more efficient and better able to adjust to disruptions and opportunities.

The "IBM Sterling Supply Chain Suite," built on the foundation of Sterling B2B Network and Sterling Order Management, enables manufacturers and retailers to integrate critical data, business networks, and supply chain processes, Armonk, New York-based IBM said. The system's open-architecture capabilities are a result of IBM's recent acquisition of enterprise open-source solution provider Red Hat.

These intelligent, self-correcting supply chains can continually learn from experience, creating greater reliability, transparency, and security while providing new competitive advantages, according to the company. 

"Supply chains are the central nervous system of global trade," Bob Lord, IBM's senior vice president for Cognitive Applications and Developer Ecosystems, said in a release. "Many organizations have risen to the top of their industries by building efficient and agile supply chains. But the technical infrastructure underlying many of these systems is still largely based on siloed, monolithic applications, which leads to inefficiencies throughout the supply chain."   

''By modernizing supply chains on top of open, hybrid-cloud platforms and infusing AI, blockchain and IoT into their networks, companies in the manufacturing, consumer packaged goods, and even services industries are equipped to enter a new era of global competitiveness," Lord said.

According to the company, its new Supply Chain Suite can also help users strike a delicate balance between privacy and collaboration in a data-rich environment.

The global economy is becoming ever more reliant on the interactions of connected companies that can tap into data troves from sources like IoT, GPS positioning, and continuous weather monitoring, IBM said. And yet, critical business relationships hinge on continuous collaboration, transparency, and trust. While some applications and processes must remain safely tucked inside an organization's four walls, many others must find their way to the cloud to take full advantage of the benefits of AI-enabled open collaboration by companies, suppliers and customers.

The launch is IBM's latest foray into specialized supply chain software platforms, following its launch in August of a blockchain platform called the Trust Your Supplier (TYS) network, designed to simplify supply chain management for users such as tech, telecom, pharma, beverage, and manufacturing companies by improving supplier qualification, validation, onboarding, and life cycle information management.

IBM has also teamed with the maritime shipping giant Maersk Line on a blockchain-enabled joint venture called "TradeLens" and with food suppliers such as Nestlé, Unilever, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on a product-tracing platform called the "IBM Food Trust."

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