Managing predictive supply-demand cycles

With events of the past two years severely disrupting supply chains worldwide, organisations have had to rethink how they manage product shortages amid increasing customer demand.

The global semiconductor chip shortage has had a negative impact on manufacturers reliant on producing electronics. And with some experts predicting this could last until 2023, everyone from automakers to computer companies and smartphone manufacturers are feeling the pressure, with new orders for cars and components facing massive delays. More than ever, anticipating shipping disruptions and customer demand has taken on mission-critical importance.

Rethinking the customer journey

Understanding the customer and deploying meaningful communications are essential in today’s environment. But more than that, it is about elevating individual customer journeys to ensure the right offers are delivered at the right time and in the right channels. Personalised guidance, as opposed to pushing products, will result in improved engagement, a better overall experience and increased margin and revenues.

While this can effectively be done in the fast-moving consumer goods segment, it is more challenging in the car sales segment. Central to managing electronics shortages, which have already seen several automotive manufacturers either delay new models or remove features from existing models, is analytically driven demand planning.

Embracing automation

Incorporating technology in supply chain management and demand planning has always been critical. But what has become apparent is the need for all stakeholders in the supply chain to automate much of the time-consuming and resource-intensive processes through advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

In the pre-pandemic days, the supply chain was just another siloed process in the organisation. As the adoption of AI in the organisation and the need for data scientists have grown, the supply chain has become integrated into the enterprise

The future of predicting demand

The ideal future state is where demand planners use predictive, AI-driven demand planning. This sees them becoming empowered to deal with whatever happens next, even Black Swan events such as the pandemic.

In this optimal environment, demand planners will bring more value to the business through automated, accurate, fast forecasting activity. This will result in process improvements and collaboration across the company, benefitting customers and consumers as the organisation now gets powered by more advanced analytical capabilities.

Demand planning is critical to the profitability of retailers, consumer goods and manufacturing operations worldwide. The impact of getting it right or wrong on customer perceptions of a brand is significant. The pandemic has highlighted how disruption can strike at any time. •