I spent the better part of last week in Las Vegas, NV attending the Blue Yonder ICON customer conference. This was the first time I have attended a Blue Yonder conference in person since 2019, which feels like a lifetime ago. The conference certainly did not disappoint, as there were hundreds of sessions, interesting keynotes, and a private concert with Mr. Worldwide himself, Pitbull, at the House of Blues.
While the concert was exciting, you could feel a buzz in the air throughout the entire conference as 2,000+ attendees headed to Vegas for ICON. The theme of Blue Yonder ICON was “preparing for a new tomorrow,” and after the last three-plus years of disruptions, that is the topic that is on everyone’s mind.
Unprecedented times is a phrase that we have all heard a lot over the last three years. There have been product shortages, supply chain disruptions, and often times, a pullback in investments in research and development. For Blue Yonder, this is not the case. In fact, the company is pledging to push harder in those efforts as it reimagines the supply chain of the future. During his opening keynote, CEO Duncan Angove said that over the next three years, Blue Yonder’s parent company Panasonic, will invest $1 billion in research and development. This also means building out the workforce, as the company has onboarded over 1,000 new associates this year already.
Mr. Angove referred to the current situation as the beginning of an innovation shockwave. New platforms are being created by data clouds, artificial intelligence (AI), and robots. This will all culminate in the emergence of a new computing platform, built on the world’s largest supercomputer: the internet. Blue Yonder has three main themes where the $1 billion in research and development will be allotted: customer experience and the cloud, accelerating all Blue Yonder roadmaps, and investing in new innovation.
I am going to dig in deeper to the last of the three themes, but I want to touch upon the first two as well. In his presentation, Wayne Usie, Chief Strategy Officer at Blue Yonder, talked about Blue Yonder’s dedication to the customer experience and cloud. Basically, Blue Yonder’s mission is to be the most trusted cloud partner for its customers. Part of this is by accelerating road maps. Mr. Usie pointed out that the goal is to make every product better and more efficient. At the same time, it needs to be easy to use and easy to deploy. For the customer, this ensures that the solutions work right immediately.
At the core of Mr. Angove’s keynote was a deep dive on how the company is planning to invest in innovation. He referred to the next generation supply chain platform powering cognitive applications. This platform is connected, intelligent, trusted, composable, and modern. This is how Blue Yonder is planning to build the supply chain network and operating system of the world.
Invest in Innovation
Building the supply chain network of the future is built upon three pillars: a single data cloud, end-to-end connectivity, and infinite intelligence.
The single data cloud runs on Snowflake, one of Blue Yonder’s partners. Snowflake is a cloud computing–based data cloud company that offers a cloud-based data storage and analytics service, generally termed “data-as-a-service .” Within the data cloud, rather than having data move to specific applications such as TMS, WMS, or SCP, the applications move to the data. Currently, Blue Yonder has its cognitive demand planning application as its first application running on the data cloud. Mr. Angove pointed out that Blue Yonder is the first company to write applications natively on the data cloud. This ensures that there are no latency issues, and allows data to be shared more easily. For example, trading partners can give read-access to each other to access data on the data cloud. This essentially means that there can be one data cloud for all companies to access relevant data.
The second component of the next generation supply chain platform is end-to-end connectivity. End-to-end connectivity means that all planning applications work together, and everything runs on the Luminate Platform. The network will also connect to the Edge, allowing automation to use machines of today to fix the problems of the future. All of this exists in a connected ecosystem of applications and partners.
The final component of the next generation supply chain platform is infinite intelligence. Both predictive and generative artificial intelligence play a role in supplying infinite intelligence, as Mr. Angove pointed out. Predictive AI is focused on analyzing data and making predictions about future events, and generative AI is focused on creating new content based on existing data. As predictive AI has become more powerful, Blue Yonder is using it to make two million predictions per day. This means customers can make hundreds of what-if scenarios in minutes, which is a process that used to take hours. As AI continues to expand, the use of Copilots for each supply chain application will make generative AI more intuitive and easier to harness. This will enable workers with less experience to operate at higher levels, helping to bridge the talent gap.
Blue Yonder ICON brought together Blue Yonder employees, customers, thought leaders, and analysts of the world. As I’ve always said, meeting with these people is one of my favorite things about going to a conference. It gives me the opportunity to learn from their experiences and share my own. Blue Yonder ICON showcased all of this, through thought-provoking sessions and case study stories. The ongoing investment in innovation, especially the data cloud, will be very interesting to continue to follow.