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AWS Supply Chain: Cloud giant's new app locates bottlenecks and suggests fixes

The cloud giant's new cloud-based application aims to offer firms unified supply chain oversight, with pre-trained aggregation models

AWS CEO Adam Selipsky, standing on the keynote stage at AWS re:Invent in front of the words "AWS re:Invent"

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced AWS Supply Chain, a new cloud application built to improve businesses’ supply chain management and lower their costs.

Central to the application is its system of connectors, which utilise machine learning (ML) models pre-trained by the cloud giant to draw data from across a company’s existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and supply chain management systems into a unified data lake

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AWS Supply Chain aggregates and contextualises this data, to provide real-time insight into inventory and quantity in the form of a visual map.

This information can be used by supply chain leaders, inventory managers, and other decision-makers within an organisation to identify bottlenecks and areas requiring efficiency improvements.

It can also help to identify more serious points of failure within a supply chain before they can have a wider, more significant business impact.

In addition to this, AWS Supply Chain will suggest actions to be taken based on problems it identifies. For example, the application could indicate a plan for moving products between two shipping hubs, taking into account the carbon impact, percentage for risk, distance between the hubs, and effect on overall spend.

With this level of actionable information, the application is intended to provide both short-term and long-term insight, enabling businesses to respond to the pressing issues within their supply chain.

With AWS Supply Chain Demand Planning, the application is also capable of analysing historical sales data to create forecasts, alongside contemporaneous information that adjusts models for accuracy. 

Intending for the solution to cater to the needs of each organisation, the system learns from shifts in demand and common developer input so it can offer the information that is most relevant.

With the aim of improving collaboration, AWS Supply chain also comes with built-in chat and messaging capabilities to advance communication between teams.

The application’s compatibility with existing ERP and supply chain management systems used by businesses is a key selling point, as it negates the need for rip-and-replace or vendor lock-in. AWS states that the application can connect to current systems without the need for up-front licensing fees, or replatforming of any kind.

“Customers tell us that the undifferentiated heavy lifting required in connecting data between different supply chain solutions has inhibited their ability to quickly see and respond to potential supply chain disruptions,” said Diego Pantoja-Navajas, vice president, AWS Supply Chain.

“AWS Supply Chain aggregates this data and provides visual, interactive dashboards that provide the insights and recommendations customers need to take actions toward more resilient supply chains. And this is just the beginning - we will continue our investment in AWS Supply Chain to help our customers solve their toughest supply chain problems.”

Supply chain issues have been a hot topic for several years. In the immediate wake of the pandemic, the world experienced a damaging semiconductor shortage, the effects of which are likely to last until 2025. This prompted a scramble by nations to boost chip supplies, from Samsung’s proposed $191 billion Texan investment, to India’s chipmaking ambitions

The advent of internet of things (IoT) technology has allowed for greater insight into stock as a whole, providing masses of data that can be leveraged by companies through systems such as AWS Supply Chain, or in private network environments like smart ports for maximum supply oversight.

On a company-by-company basis, careful supply chain management is an extremely important part of overall business strategy. Although there is a lot of software, and even artificial intelligence, equipped to tackle stock for businesses, improper implementation of such systems can end up costing more and irritating customers, as with Waterstones’ botched stock upgrade.

AWS Supply Chain is now available in preview in the regions US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), and Europe (Frankfurt), and availability will expand to other regions in the near future.

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