Beyond Control Towers: How Cognitive Command Centers are Revolutionizing Supply Chains
The Blume Global Team
March 31, 2023
Like its sibling supply chain visibility, control towers continue to garner a lot of interest and discussion in the industry. As new technologies and capabilities are introduced, such as AI and machine learning, are we evolving toward a new type of solution, what some are calling Cognitive Command Centers? What new or additional benefits does it provide? What’s required to successfully implement a Cognitive Command Center and realize business benefits? Blume Global CEO Pervinder Johar spoke with Talking Logistics’ Adrian Gonzalez on the matter.
Looking back, the evolution of control towers started off with what we used to do on data center and networking side. Typically, you had NOCs (network operating centers) to look over what is going on across your network, along with exceptions and how to manage them. Supply chain, being a network, the same concept came about that we needed a control tower, because when you’re running a supply chain, how do you truly know the health of your supply chain? There were too many connected parties where things could go wrong.
“When companies began implementing control towers, it was basically visibility— reporting and exception management—with these monitoring quarters with big screens. That’s why there is no surprise that today there's a ton of confusion around control towers, and chances are you’ll get several different answers from professionals on what they consider its purpose to be,” said Johar.
Evolving towards Cognitive Command Centers
If you look at running a large, complex supply chain, there are many functions that you need to worry about, from procurement, logistics, customer impact, etc. In a supply chain, these exceptions happen repeatedly. There are known unknowns and unknown unknowns. The command center is the notion of a digital twin of your supply chain to know how to simulate it. Are we good at detecting exceptions and what do they mean to us? Simulation abilities allow us to model certain situations.
“The concepts are not new from what we do in our daily life on the cloud software side and what needs to be done on the supply chain side, but the simulation ability has always been missing,” said Johar. “With a cognitive command center, you need to know the exceptions, what process you will follow who will do what...and the learning ability to go back and learn what we could have done better.”
What are the new benefits Cognitive Command Centers provide?
“If I touch on the cognitive and what it means today, it’s the ability to learn in the cloud, where multiple companies in the ecosystem and different industries are dealing with the same exceptions. The cognitive component is collective intelligence,” said Johar.
For professionals who are learning and running different command centers for different companies, there is a pattern. The cognitive command center allows for an individual to create a playbook across them and have each company learn from each other. On a platform with multiple command centers for multiple different companies you get a different advantage than doing something that may be hosted, like a traditional command center, which is siloed.
Automation is a huge benefit, as we are moving from a decision support system to a decision-making system. Decision making is a cognitive act, where, on the contrary, control tower now lean more on decision support with reporting and analytics. Decision making requires letting the machine make the decisions instead of waiting for us to act on it. The faster you are in making a decision, the easier it is for you to manage a disruption.