Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a thing of the future nor is it the AI of feature films, reigning terror on its human creators. At least not yet. But among its current capabilities, AI can help maximize supply chain sustainability.
What’s more, according to the Harvard Business Review, human workers are not going to become obsolete. Instead, “… the technology’s (AI) true power is in augmenting human capabilities – and that holds true in the supply chain.”
So, let’s put the fear of massive job loss behind us and figure out how we can better use AI in order to maximize supply chain sustainability.
HBR discusses the traditional supply chain model as “inflexible and slow” and, ultimately, inefficient. Working in tandem with AI, humans can help to create a more flowing and flexible chain that better meets the needs of customers while saving time and resources.
As these systems change and render certain positions useless, human workers and businesses must continuously adapt to find their niche. This can include internal commitments to “reskill and move people to other areas of the business where they can add value,” according to HRB.
AI is also more efficient in making forecasts and inventory management. One major consumer goods company utilized AI for a formerly manual process resulting in 80 percent less time to complete the task. Human workers were re-tasked “to provide valuable market intelligence.”
There are a number of great reasons to pair humans with AI to maximize supply chain sustainability, so let’s talk about some things you should know about AI.
1. It’s relevant for all industries.
We all know there are things that computers are simply better at. For some industries, like technology, it is obvious that AI is central. Take some time to explore how your organization could be more efficient and better use the skills of your people if you incorporated AI.
2. Human rights and ethics are important
Green Biz emphasizes the importance of utilizing the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights when developing and deploying AI. Be prepared to ask some hard questions and act with a focus on a human-rights.
3. Environmental issues are important
Powering AI can be expensive and inefficient. It is important to consider the cost of utilizing it and ensuring energy needs do not spike as a result.
4. Don’t forget research, development, and marketing
It is easy to forget these areas when it comes to AI, but they must be focal areas. In 2017, they were not at the top of business leaders minds’ when asked which were the most important functions to achieve substantive progress in sustainability in 2017 – don’t forget them.
5. Communicate with equity and inclusiveness
AI is among the most jargon-filled and complex industries today. Often, only a small portion of people will understand how AI works and they are usually working at AI companies. This can create a risk of exploitation when it comes to civil society, right-holders, and vulnerable populations. Let’s ensure everyone can be part of meaningful conversations about AI.
6. Ethics and principles will be challenging
The AI industry has developed rapidly and guiding principles with it. There are many organizations publishing ethics and principles. Be prepared to provide and receive feedback in order to be part of exploring and resolving issues.
7. Be prepared for the ripple effect
We cannot be sure where the AI movement is heading, but we can be sure that it will have implications for our future. Are they the ones of sci-fi movies, probably not? But, be sure to consider the long-term impacts of AI on society and business.