“AI Moment” by CII Elite Member – Mr. Swaminathan Ramachandran, CSCO – Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Ltd.

I am writing this blog not as an expert in Artificial Intelligence, but as a professional who had experienced an AI moment! I would say AI is going to transform the business processes the business models to such an extent that we are not probably imagining at this point in time. In the last 3-4 decades organizations have settled down on the role of computer and human – where transactions and movement of records are done digitally through computers and decisions and judgments are left to humans. This machine – man relationship is likely to undergo a dramatic change with the advent of AI. AI will bring down the cost of prediction in businesses and will be taking over decisions or supporting humans in the next 5 years. As Andrew Ng who is considered the father of AI/ML would say, AI is the new electricity. In the early part of this century there were many organizations that were left behind or just folded up as they were debating whether they should replace steam with electricity as they were evaluating the cost savings, little did they realize the opportunities for change in business processes. AI will have the same impact on businesses like electricity in changing business models.

In the first phase of building artificial intelligence, we have been trying to understand how humans make decisions and build codes/programs to replicate those decisions. The problem with such an approach was that it was impossible to fully understand how experts are taking decisions.  It is indeed difficult for experts themselves to explain how they are making those decisions. There was another approach for AI which is called machine learning which was building algorithms based on training data and was continuously learning from each experience without the need of being reprogrammed by humans. In short, the first approach was almost learning like how adults would learn the language, and the second approach – The machine learning approach, was learning the way children would be learning the language! The first approach needed people to write programs and needed an understanding of humans are making decisions. In reality, we know that we ourselves may not be able to fully explain how we will be making decisions. Machine learning-based AI systems create algorithms from the data and modify the algorithms as we receive more information on its own.

In Supply Chain, AI/ML-based regression models would automate the demand planning and supply projection process to a great degree and would require minimum human intervention. Human intervention would be required to review and modify the plans. AI system will continuously learn from each of the human interventions and would continuously improve with experience.

Another example of applying AI in combination with computer vision in the Supply Chain will be in automating visual quality control processes. The human-based visual quality control process has its own difficulty as it depends on the ability of humans to concentrate on such repetitive tasks. AI-supported visual quality control processes would classify acceptable and rejected products and when combined with human decision making are likely to produce a much higher level of reliability. I have shared a few examples of AI deployment and would share more details in my subsequent blog.

The idea of this blog is to get professionals aware of the impending impact of AT/ML on our businesses and probably set them up on a journey to learn how AI can be deployed in businesses. I am hopeful each one of you would have an AI moment!


Swaminathan Ramachandran

Chief Supply Chain Officer- Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd

Proud Contributor of CII Elite community for Supply Chain & Technology