In the recent wildfires across Australia (2020), smart technology delivered outstanding results with real-time tracking of fire-fighting operations in a Time-bound and Safe manner. A simple wearable fitness tracker with GPS capability fed the firefighter’s location back to a central point and provided even his health and safety status in real-time.

AI for decision making and IoT (Internet of Things) for transmission of real-time data has allowed safe and efficient control of multi-site manufacturing operations for many Indian companies already. RFID meanwhile is helping track truck movements through warehouses and auto-updating stock levels in the central ERP systems.

‘Smart Technology’ is now on the threshold of pervading the front end of supply chains where customer interactions are dominant. The challenges in this customer-centric zone are quite different.

It is not as satisfying to interact with a machine as it is to talk to another human being (howsoever imperfect he maybe!). The success of AI chatbots such as “Replika” in the West and “Panda Ichiro” in Japan is showing a lot of promise. Replika acquired 2.5 million signups in the US and Europe within a year of start in 2018 and “Panda Ichiro” is a friend to 17 million people. These e-Avatars could become a global phenomenon sooner than we realize. It makes one wonder if all this is real and even happening!

Written By -
Navin Verma, CPIM, CSCP, LSSBB,
Faculty - Supply Chain & Operations,

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