Do you remember when we didn’t always trust our GPS apps? I recently came across this bizarre 2011 article on the ABC News website titled ‘Recalculating… Don’t Trust Your GPS’. It tells the story of a woman who, in following GPS directions, became stranded on muddy back roads in Oregon, where she remained lost for nearly two months and almost died. While the scenario sounds completely made up, the author uses it to warn readers against having blind faith in navigation technology, asserting that ‘technology is not always fool-proof’. Well, of course, it isn’t.
The author continues by pointing out what can go wrong with GPS devices. They can run out of battery power, or be unable to connect with satellites, especially if you’re in a remote area. GPS software used to need frequent updating, with maps changing all the time, resulting in recommended routes that were sometimes less than sensible.
Thankfully, that was back in 2011 and these issues no longer plague us when we use GPS for navigation. Not only have GPS solutions become more reliable and smarter but, as users, we’re also now more mature in using them. We’re much more aware of what the app can do (and what it cannot do).
Yet, while it falls short of perfection, we’ve learned to leverage what GPS is good at — calculating and suggesting solutions to our navigation questions — allowing us to spend less time on simple route planning, and more time on truly valuable activities (like choosing the right podcast…).
Which brings me to my corner of supply chain planning, where we see similarities between this GPS example and the subject of autonomous planning. While some are still leery of digital systems creating and updating supply chain plans for them, many planners have learned to embrace this advanced capability.
Innovative planners have tested the capabilities of autonomous planning and seen that it can create excellent base plans and multiple viable alternatives. They’ve learned to build on that by applying their experience and human intelligence to further improve plan quality and executability. And, while autonomously generated plans are not always exactly what planners would propose if they had to craft them manually, the computer’s ‘reasoning’ is increasingly understood and the outcomes are becoming more and more trusted.
Planners who exploit autonomous capabilities waste less time on trivial things and spend more time evaluating the impact on vital business KPIs and perfecting the areas of the plan that add greater value.
So, much like with GPS systems, people are getting smarter at using autonomous planning systems. I would say: recalculating… trust your supply chain planning solution.
Curious what this could mean for your supply chain planning? Feel free to contact me to learn more about how we at OMP use autonomous planning capabilities for better plans.
David enjoys helping customers identify their current supply chain improvement opportunities, understand all that is possible with advanced supply chain planning technology, and develop a roadmap for success that is tailored for their organization.