Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (May 17, 2024)

60 cents.

That is all that is separating my son from his college diploma.

I received an invoice from Cornell University this week for 60 cents. After paying them a ridiculous $$$,$$$ of my hard-earned money over the past four years, they still want some of the spare change I have in my car.

I’m tempted to bring a Ziploc bag filled with 60 pennies to campus with me to pay off the balance. “One…two…three…four…” I would slowly count out each penny, sliding them across the bursar’s counter with my finger. I might even add an extra penny so that I could say “Keep the change” as I walk out the door.

But I won’t. I’ll pay online today. Be done with it, be done with them.

60 pennies, plus my two cents. I feel less poor already.


Moving on, here’s the supply chain and logistics news that caught my attention this week:

Generative AI: What’s In It for Me?

I wasn’t able to attend the Manhattan Momentum conference this year, but I did catch some of the news from the event. In addition to announcing a new Supply Chain Planning solution (which I’ll comment on in a future post, once I’m briefed on it), the company introduced “Manhattan Active® Maven, a specialized Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) solution built for customer service, along with Manhattan Assist, which adds cutting-edge GenAI capabilities to all Manhattan Active solutions.” Here are some excerpts from the press release:

Natively built within Manhattan’s industry-leading omnichannel commerce solution, Manhattan Active Maven stands out as the first GenAI-powered customer service chatbot with native access to orders, payments, store locations, and product availability. Manhattan has leveraged advancements in large language models (LLMs) to reimagine the chatbot experience for pre- and post-purchase experiences. Manhattan Active Maven crafts personalized responses that are dynamic and contextual, akin to those delivered by human agents. Manhattan Active Maven is also incredibly easy to implement. No rules, scripts or integrations are required. Retailers simply embed it on their website, and the solution goes to work.

Manhattan is also announcing Manhattan Assist, a GenAI-powered assistant that provides contextual responses to any questions regarding product functionality, API structures, and more. Manhattan Assist will also provide a natural language summary of how Manhattan Active applications are currently configured. Included with all Manhattan Active Solution subscriptions, this new feature provides platform-level assistance across multiple personas, roles, and functions.

I haven’t seen a demo of the solutions yet, but based on the descriptions, they seem to be well-aligned with what’s achievable today — that is, their scope is limited to what can reliably deliver value today versus promising capabilities that are perhaps not ready for prime time at the moment. But the real proof will come in the weeks and months ahead as customers start to deploy them.

Which brings me to related news this week from IBM, which published a study that found “CEOs are facing workforce, culture and governance challenges as they act quickly to implement and scale generative AI across their organizations.” Here are some excerpts from the press release:

The annual global study of 3,000 CEOs from over 30 countries and 26 industries found that 64% of those surveyed say succeeding with generative AI will depend more on people’s adoption than the technology itself. However, 61% of respondents say they are pushing their organization to adopt generative AI more quickly than some people are comfortable with.

The findings also revealed that nearly two-thirds (63%) of surveyed CEOs say their teams have the skills and knowledge to incorporate generative AI, but few understand how generative AI adoption impacts their organization’s workforce and culture. More than half (56%) of respondents have not yet assessed the impact of generative AI on their employees. Yet, 51% of CEOs surveyed say they are hiring for generative AI roles that did not exist last year, while 47% expect to reduce or redeploy their workforce in the next 12 months because of generative AI.

Simply put, as has always been the case with any new technology, if end users don’t see the value of GenAI or feel threatened by it, deploying it successfully will be a very bumpy road. Don’t underestimate the need and importance of educating the workforce on why this technology is important, how it will be used, and “what’s in it for them” to use it.

Training Truck Drivers in High School

Earlier this week I wrote a blog post — “If An 18-Year-Old Truck Driver Comes To Pick Up Your Shipment” — that has generated a lot of discussion. Coincidently, I came across this related news item after I wrote the post: “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is considering an exemption request from a high school in Washington state that would lower the age requirement for obtaining a commercial learner’s permit (CLP),” as reported by Ashley in CDLLife. 

Source: Connell High School

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

While current federal requirements set the age requirement for obtaining a CLP at 18 years, [Connell High School (CHS) located in Connell, Washington] is asking for FMCSA approval for students enrolled in the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Program to obtain a CLP at the age of 17 and receive 180 hours of classroom, field, and drive time instruction before obtaining a CDL at the age of 18.

CHS says that the CLP age exemption would allow students to obtain a CDL and enter the workforce right away after graduation, giving them access to stable, well-paying jobs. This, in turn, would also have a positive impact on the community and “alleviate the current commercial driver shortage,” the school says.

How comfortable would you be having an 18-year-old truck driver transporting one of your loads across state lines?

Read my blog post and the CDLLife article, then post a comment and share your perspective on this topic.

And with that, have a meaningful weekend!

Song of the Week: “Oysters in My Pocket” by Royel Otis