Beyond Control Tower: How Cognitive Command Centers Are Revolutionizing Supply Chains

For more than two decades companies have been striving to improve their supply chain awareness and management through supply chain visibility applications. But companies must take action based on that visibility in order to realize its true value, which is why many companies have deployed supply chain control towers. Today, as new technologies and capabilities are introduced, such as AI and machine learning, are we evolving toward a new type of solution, what some are calling Cognitive Command Centers? What is a Cognitive Command Center? What new or additional benefits does it provide? What is required to successfully implement a Cognitive Command Center and realize business benefits? Those are the key questions I discussed with Pervinder Johar, Chief Executive Officer at Blume Global, on a recent episode of Talking Logistics.

From Control to Command

I began our discussion by asking Pervinder why companies have implemented control towers and what limitations remain. Pervinder explains that supply chains are similar to data center networks in that there are many nodes, connections, and points of failure. Control towers have been implemented for visibility to all of these touch points, and for reporting and exception management.

“There are control towers for planning, control towers for execution, control towers for other functions, but they are all basically a room with big screens where you go to see what is going on in your supply chain,” says Pervinder. “The limitation is they are more about visibility than taking action.”

Pervinder notes that there are many parts to your supply chain from procurement through to delivery. The concept of Cognitive Command Centers began with creating a digital twin of this whole process. The broad visibility of the digital twin enables exception management across the supply chain.

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“We know exceptions will happen. The cognitive concept is understanding supply chain exception trends and what can be done about them,” says Pervinder. “This involves using simulation capabilities to model trends and predict outcomes. The command side is using this information to decide what to do, and who will do it, and then using artificial intelligence to analyze and learn from the results to improve future outcomes. This creates long-term corporate memory and the opportunity for automation of exception handling.”

Benefits of a Cognitive Command Center

I asked Pervinder to share the benefits he sees from Cognitive Command Centers. He mentions that these capabilities can reside in the cloud across organizations to create collective intelligence of what is happening across the supply chain.

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“This multi-company awareness enables the creation of playbooks for how to handle exceptions and disruptions across the supply chain,” he says. “Instead of each company handling their own exceptions, you get multi-company learning on the best way to handle processes for better outcomes.

“The next step is to evolve from decision-support to decision-making by collective learning and automation. The faster you can make decisions, at machine speed, when there are exceptions or disruptions gives you an advantage for obtaining potentially limited resources in a crisis.”

Implementation and Deriving Benefits

How can companies evolve from visibility and control towers to implement and derive the benefits of Cognitive Control Centers? Pervinder suggests starting with the goal in mind, that is, what problem are you trying to solve. He then goes on to provide several steps to migrate into a Cognitive Command Center environment. Therefore, I recommend that you watch the full episode for all of his insights and advice on this topic. Then keep the conversation going by posting a comment and sharing your perspective.