IBM unveils AI-powered inventory control system

The Sterling Inventory Control Tower uses real-time intel to build resilient supply chains

IBM building

IBM has unveiled an AI-powered inventory control system to help companies optimize their decision-making and build resilient supply chains more effectively.

Now more than ever, inventory challenges are top of mind across every industry. But many companies lack the end-to-end inventory visibility and intelligence needed to effectively predict disruptions and mitigate their business impact. 

IBM’s latest AI product, called the IBM Sterling Inventory Control Tower, is designed to provide insights to see inventory wherever it is, identify the impact of external events to predict disruptions, and take actions to mitigate the effects.

This allows for speedier response to market changes, and the system can provide real-time insights in cases such as: 

  • In grocery stores to expand inventory visibility to see beyond warehouses, including in-store locations and supply in-transit, and keep shelves stocked.
  • In hospitals to provide visibility into supply and demand gaps for critical items such as lifesaving equipment and supplies, making them available at the right place and time.
  • In automotive to get visibility into aftermarket service parts, to help ensure critical parts are in stock to meet customer expectations.

The Control Tower is part of the IBM Sterling Supply Chain Suite. IBM acquired Sterling Commerce, a B2B tech services company, from AT&T in 2010.

“The past few months have shown us that what was once considered ‘good enough’ inventory management may no longer be sufficient,” said Jeanette Barlow, an IBM Sterling VP. “Even as businesses strive to reopen and emerge smarter, inventory remains dynamic because supply, demand and transportation capacity are in flux.

“As a result, some businesses may be losing sales; aggravating customers by overpromising; losing margins due to markdowns and expedited shipping charges, and carrying excess safety stock, all while limiting their ability to enter new sales channels.”

Despite recent technological advances, many businesses are failing to realise AI’s potential, or even try it out at all. However, IBM’s new CEO, Arvind Krishna, announced in May that the company was “pivoting hard” into AI. 

“More than 20 years ago, experts predicted that every company would become an ‘internet company,’” Krishna said. “I’m predicting today that every company will become an AI company not because they can, but because they must.”

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