Episode 72 – Jeanette Barlow of IBM Sterling

On this episode, I am joined by Jeanette Barlow of IBM. Jeanette is the Vice President of Strategy & Offering Management for IBM’s Sterling team. We discuss the current state of supply chain during the COVID-19 Pandemic and how IBM is helping their customers to create a smarter supply chain to get through the current situation and also reduce their vulnerabilities for the future.

Key Takeaways

  • IBM Sterling is a supply chain focused software suite that gives you end to end visibility utilizing real-time insights based on your different systems as well as AI that looks into different environmental factors that could impact your supply chain. Based on these datasets the Sterling platform is able to give you recommendations on how to avoid disruption in your supply chain and even identify opportunities to pivot to help identify growth opportunities during disruptions.
  • With the current pandemic we are seeing a lot of change in consumer behavior for all categories of consumer due to the shut downs and certain businesses not being open or having limited supply. The model for obtaining goods is changing significantly as we see more orders online, more businesses doing curbside pickup and additional fulfillment models being utilized. Jeanette discusses how there is an opportunity for companies to utilize these different distribution models to more effectively manage their inventory. If there is increased visibility to where inventory is available then it can be fulfilled from those different channels. For example, a warehouse may be out of stock but a retail store may have some stock, in this case the order should be able to be fulfilled from the retail store just like it would be from the warehouse.
  • In the current situation AI is becoming more appealing as it can give you the ability to prepare for situations like this. IBM Sterling looks at different factors that can help you be prepared. The reason that AI helps to improve your business and supply chain overall is because it can look at so many different data points so quickly that opportunities and risks can be realized at a much faster rate than if it were to be done by human data mining and analysis. Jeanette discusses how customers are increasing their demand and awareness of the need for AI in their supply chain now as well.
  • While the pandemic is a very serious thing and the impact it has had globally on humanity and the population is a negative thing, there is opportunity within this time for businesses. The opportunity is to take a look at how your business was impacted by the pandemic and see where the gaps were that allowed the impact to happen. As Jeanette mentions, it is an opportunity to look at how you can manage exceptions instead of exceptions managing you.

Take a listen to the episode below. Please remain safe during these crazy times and leave a comment below on what your experience has been.

To read more from IBM about the impact on supply chains check out this article: COVID-19 and Shattered Supply Chains

For IBM’s COVID-19 response head to their dedicated page here.

For more information on IBM Sterling head here.

To connect with Jeanette find her on LinkedIn here.