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Digital Supply Chain STOKED! – AI/ML and Big Data for Demand

Monthly blog featuring George Bailey, the Managing Director of the Digital Supply Chain Institute. This month he interviews the CIO of Colgate-Palmolive on the hot topic of AI/ML and Big Data.

George is on the Advisory Board of Lockheed Martin and the American Productivity and Quality Center. He is the Executive Professor of Digital Innovation and Management at Pepperdine University and the Chairman of the Jackson Hole Ocean Sailing Team. George was based in Tokyo as Sony’s Chief Transformation Officer reporting to Chairman Sir Howard Stringer. Previously he was a member of IBM’s leadership team and the global lead for the PriceWaterhouse Strategy Change business.

“I am lucky enough today to interview Mike Crowe. Mike is the CIO of Colgate-Palmolive. Probably everyone knows the tremendous success of this large company that reaches more than 200 countries and territories around the world with a broad variety of oral care, personal care, home care and pet nutrition products. But, did you know that Colgate-Palmolive is also a very innovative company that is rapidly transitioning to a Digital Supply Chain? Mike has partnered with the head of the supply chain function to bring the technology to make things happen.”

Welcome Mike!

“Thank you George, it is always good to get a chance to talk about the Digital Supply Chain and it is especially interesting to talk about what is really happening with AI/ML in the supply chain”

Colgate-Palmolive has an amazingly large, complex, and effective global supply chain. What are you doing to make it better?

“Our continuing move to a Digital Supply Chain involves many initiatives and much new technology, which means my team has much to do! Our initiatives span all aspects of our global supply chain and include additional automation as well as better analytical capabilities utilizing both our internal data and customer data.”

I am sure that our readers can relate to that challenge. Can you give us a few specific examples?

“We are enabling 100% systems driven planning using state of the art planning systems as well as adding automation in the manufacturing plant and warehouses. We also devote significant time exploring the application of advanced technology, including conducting experiments with Blockchain and multiple elements of Artificial Intelligence. Regarding Machine Learning, we’ve moved beyond the experimentation stage to actual implementations.”

AI is such a fashionable topic. Everyone is talking about it. What is Colgate -Palmolive doing with AI in the Digital Supply Chain?

"Beginning with our planning systems, we are leveraging machine learning in demand sensing algorithms to automatically adjust and improve our short term forecast. We’re also in the early stages of deploying machine learning to better predict our promotional volumes. Customer data is an important input to these planning processes. We’re leveraging machine learning to help us collect, clean and make the customer data available for the planning algorithms and other analysis. Inside the manufacturing plant, we’re working towards leveraging our internal sensor data to move to predictive plant maintenance."

Where will Colgate-Palmolive go next with AI?

"Of all of the advanced technology we study, we firmly believe AI provides the largest opportunity for near term results. Our initiatives go beyond the digital supply chain, including AI’s use in how we develop our products and including AI in our products, namely our new electric toothbrush as a first example. AI provides new opportunity to provide better service to our customers and consumers."