7 November 2023

Generative AI in Southeast Asia; Disruptor or Enhancer?

Jonathan E. Savoir, CEO and Co-Founder of Quincus

The initial hype surrounding generative AI (GenAI) has indeed given way to a more nuanced understanding of its potential and limitations. While GenAI was once touted as groundbreaking, its application in various fields, including supply chain management, has faced challenges and questions that need to be addressed.

In the context of supply chain management, GenAI was expected to revolutionize the industry by offering predictive capabilities, optimization, and automation. Some of the early expectations included more efficient inventory management, demand forecasting, route optimization, and even the potential for autonomous supply chain decision-making.

The projected USD 60 billion opportunity by ABI Research might still be achievable in the long term, but the challenges and uncertainties in the field need to be addressed. It’s important for organizations to carefully consider the specific use cases, ethical implications, and technological readiness of GenAI in supply chain management. To find out more, we spoke to Jonathan Savoir, CEO and Co-Founder of Quincus, to find out the evolving industry and technology.

As GenAI technology continues to develop and more experience is gained in its application, we may see a clearer understanding of its true potential and its limitations in the context of supply chain management.

How do you see the future of generative AI in ‘traditional’ industries like logistics and supply chain management?

Until now, Generative AI (GenAI) has predominantly found its application in content creation and design. However, this does not mean there is no place in the future for GenAI in logistics and supply chain management.

GenAI is able to analyze extensive datasets with accuracy, filter valuable insights, and offer solutions in seconds. GenAI will be able to consider various factors to generate optimal simulations for inventory management, customs documentation and demand forecasting. This is in contrast to other machine learning or deep learning techniques, which will be more effective for optimization or control functions. However, both, in the right environment empower businesses to seamlessly monitor and manage supply chain data in real-time, leading to improved efficiency and contributing to the reduction in the environmental footprint of supply chain components. 

At Quincus, we tap into the potential of AI to reshape logistics and help companies gain a competitive edge in this rapidly evolving industry. With advanced machine learning algorithms and real-time data analysis, GenAI isn’t just streamlining operations, it’s simulating to build a new entire logistics paradigm.

What are the biggest misconceptions about the technology in those industries or at least the largest gaps of knowledge?

One prevalent misconception is that adopting advanced technology, including AI and automation, is a straightforward process or a one stop shop. In reality, integrating these technologies into existing systems can be highly complex and may require significant time and the right resources. There is also a common fear that automation and AI will lead to widespread job displacement in the industry. While certain tasks may become automated, these technologies also create new job opportunities in areas like AI system maintenance, data analysis, and strategic decision-making.

On the other hand, a significant knowledge gap exists regarding the understanding of AI capabilities and limitations. Some may overestimate AI’s ability to make autonomous decisions without human oversight, leading to potential errors or misunderstandings. The logistics industry handles sensitive customer and business data and some stakeholders may not fully understand the importance of data privacy and security when implementing AI and IoT devices, which leaves them vulnerable to potential breaches.

In addition, the black box of AI must be opened up for users through user interfaces and platforms, to ensure operators can intervene at any time into real life operations.

We at Quincus believe that education is key. It is important to educate legacy industries, such as the supply chain industry, to help players fully grasp the process of adopting advanced technologies and their impact on their businesses. At Quincus AI, we overcome technical hurdles and biases by conducting user-centric applied research to understand the most reasonable and equitable assumptions to address our users’ challenges. We put ourselves in our users’ shoes to identify their pain points and make quick, informed decisions that will help propel us in the right direction. 

Is there a demand for the incorporation of technology into these industries?

Yes, there is a growing demand for the integration of technology into the logistics and supply chain industries, and this demand extends well beyond just generative AI. Companies are looking to embrace technology and gain a competitive edge. On one hand, businesses are acutely aware of the imperative to optimize efficiency and reduce costs, which technologies like AI, IoT, and automation can facilitate. The pursuit of better customer experiences in response to growing consumer expectations for swift deliveries and real-time tracking fuels this demand. 

Moreover, technology enables data-driven decision-making by collecting and analyzing data to enhance forecasting accuracy and risk management. The increasing globalization and complexity of supply chains encourage technology solutions to navigate intricacies effectively, while sustainability concerns drive the adoption of tech-driven solutions for minimizing environmental impacts.

We see that industries are more and more moving to 4PL business models, where not only 3PL or 4PL are managing their logistics and supply chains, but also the large scale shippers. Those shippers, given the right platform, see significant benefits in managing their supply chains globally.

Additionally, we’ve observed that the demand for real-time operational orchestration in supply chains is growing. Companies are increasingly concerned about unforeseen disruptions and seek technology that allows them to rapidly assess their options across complex vendor networks. With these tech solutions, businesses can swiftly adapt to maintain customer satisfaction, even when facing global challenges.

How will it impact the logistics industry in Southeast Asia?

The surge in demand for technology integration is bound to reshape the logistics industry in Southeast Asia. First and foremost, it will usher in a new era of operational efficiency. Technologies like AI and IoT will streamline logistics processes and automate tasks. However, given the complexity of the region, we see the biggest benefits of AI in the simplification of this complexity into one or more technologies to streamline the logistics process. This efficiency boost will reduce lead times, enhance cost-effectiveness, and foster greater competitiveness in the region’s logistics sector. Moreover, it’s anticipated to stimulate market growth as businesses leverage technology to expand their reach and serve an expanding consumer base, both regionally and internationally.

Additionally, technology integration will promote supply chain visibility, sustainability, and cross-border trade, all while generating new job opportunities and necessitating compliance with evolving regulations. Investments in logistics infrastructure are also expected, propelling Southeast Asia into the forefront of technology-driven logistics.

What’s next for Quincus?

Over the past years, Quincus has achieved significant milestones, and we have established ourselves as a strong player in our industry, which is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team. This is particularly true when we look at the large multinational shippers, as well as the global 4PL operators that are actively adopting Quincus worldwide to orchestrate their vendors and logistics in a true end-to-end enterprise AI operating platform.

Looking ahead, as we continue to grow and expand across the region, we are wholeheartedly focusing on the core of our business – creating more innovative and industry-tailored solutions for our clients. We will remain dedicated to our mission, committed to adaptability, and ready to collaborate with potential partners to shape our path forward in a dynamic and ever-changing business landscape. 

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