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Chatbots: What’s their role in the Digtialization of Supply Chain Management?

News   •   Aug 10, 2017 10:00 CEST


It sounds like the beginning from the title of a Star Wars parody film.

In the recent year, chatbots have become all-the craze within the tech and business community. The more that the technology and the capability of these artificially intelligent beings develop, the more their breadth for utilization develops.

Supply chain analysts and specialists are now looking into applying chatbots into supply chain management activities, including procurement activities. Supply chain management, as a market, has seen a plethora of disruptive technologies pop up in the past few years. The main challenge for supply chain management teams is to keep up with the digilization trends/emerging technology of supply chains, implement the technologies that are useful, and continuously develop their organization’s competencies for utilizing tech-aided work-tools.

Chatbots are just another blip on the large scoping radar of AI tech. Their utilization can already be seen in various capacities. One, which you may recognize is Siri; a chatbot with deep AI, and machine learning abilities that can answer questions, hold small conversations and understand patterns.

To understand the capabilities Chatbot technology holds for supply chain management functions, we must first build a better understanding of the technology. From there, we can develop an ideal of applicability in regards to procurement functions and other supply chain related activities.

What are chatbots, really?

Chatbots are an emerging form of AI (Artificial Intelligence) that could be the next big disruption for supply chain management tech.

In 2016 it was found that, “47% of supply chain leaders from our larger community believe that artificial intelligence is disruptive and important with respect to supply chain strategies” (Suppy Chain Digital).

The sudden surge in the want/need for chatbots, in various aspects of the business functions- along the value chain, is extremely interesting considering chatbot technology was a technology developed in the 1960’s. The bot was called ELIZA and its utilization was solely to attempt the psychoanalysis of humans (NBC News 2016). In the 60’s, of course, the applications of this technology weren’t even close to being realized. The stage of computers were still embryonic, and there was little thought of the world moving to the complete digital accessibility of private individuals that exists today.


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