The APQC Blog

Supply Chain AI Moves From Theory To Reality

 Supply Chain AI Moves From Theory To Reality

New and emerging technologies are changing the way supply chains operate. The impact of technology is compounded by all the recent disruptions affecting supply chains, like the pandemic, supply shortages, and security threats. Among the technologies impacting supply chain is artificial intelligence (or AI), which can help supply chains make more accurate predictions and thus make more informed decisions.

As AI moves out of the realm of the theoretical and into the real world of the supply chain, it has the potential to assist with all aspects of the supply chain, from the ability to create self-adjusting supply chain plans to enabling manufacturing operations to self-optimize processes. In fact, in research conducted by APQC, AI is among the top trends expected to make a significant impact on supply chains by 2023.

With many organizations seeing AI as integral in the future, businesses must consider how this technology will alter their staffing needs and the skills needed by their supply chain employees. With better predictions and recommendations will come the need for employees who can make smart decisions based on that information. 

AI Supply Chain



APQC’s research examined the current level of AI adoption among organizations and how the technology is changing the skills required of employees. Smart companies are dedicating time and resources to getting their employees training and development they need for reskilling. This effort is essential to preventing skills shortages as the supply chain profession continues to evolve.

AI Adoption

Although AI has the potential to make a profound impact on supply chains, its use is not yet widespread. For those using AI, it is still relatively new to their everyday environment. APQC’s research finds that only 13 percent of organizations using AI have been doing so for more than two years. A larger number have adopted the technology only recently–36 percent have had it in place for less than one year. Further, about half have used AI for one to two years.

When it comes to looking at the degree to which supply chains have adopted AI overall, we see that 4 in 10 organizations have not yet piloted the technology. And only 21 percent of organizations are in the more advanced phases (operating and optimizing). These percentages are poised to change given AI’s status as a top trend affecting supply chain. 

Degree of AI Adoption

 Supply Chain AI Moves From Theory To Reality

Interestingly, these percentages do not change much when looking at the degree of adoption for specific segments of the supply chain. For logistics and warehousing, only about 39 percent of organizations have moved beyond the piloting stage of AI technology.

The percentages are similar for supply chain planning, procurement, manufacturing, and asset management with only one-quarter of respondents in the later operating or optimizing stages.  

Organizations recognize the wide-ranging applicability of this technology for supply chain use, but that means that its impact on employee skills is also wide-ranging.

To Learn More

AI is Driving New Skills in Supply Chain article
Artificial Intelligence (AI) In Supply Chain Survey Report data summary
With AI Comes the Need for Employee Learning in Supply Chain infographic