ChatGPT burst onto the scene in November 2022. It had a similar impact on artificial intelligence (AI) as the post-pandemic supply chain gridlock had on supply chain; a topic that wasn’t new, just not known, suddenly became a mainstream dinner-time conversation subject. ChatGPT, launched by OpenAI, introduces us to a completely different category of tools and puts the power and potential of AI on display.
ChatGPT is not merely a search engine that answers “what is …” questions, although it does well there, too. It certainly has caught the attention of the likes of Google. It can do so much more. You can prompt it to produce complex written work. When I started playing with it to see what it can do, I asked it to write lyrics for a country song about a yellow rubber duck. I thought it did a great job at that. To make this more fun, there is another tool called Dall-E, also by OpenAI, that can generate images from text prompts. I asked it to generate an original album cover for my new song, and Dall-E delivered (see below). Now I have the lyrics and the artwork for a potential hit song but I better hold off for a bit. The AI-generated content copyright issue is quickly becoming hot topic in legislation.
ChatGPT and Supply Chains
While ChatGPT caught the education field and academia completely by surprise, ChatGPT itself is not going to have a material impact on how supply chain decisions are being made. Gartner Hype Cycle for Artificial Intelligence predicts that generative AI will become a full-blown mainstream technology in non-supply chain applications in two to five years. Because Supply Chain models are so complex and specific to each company, the expected arrival into the mainstream is anticipated to be 10 years out.
Despite the seemingly long time until AI’s entry into the mainstream, supply chain leaders must not sit back and do nothing. Like fine whiskey, to get a product that has been aged 10 years, in 10 years, the work must start now.
Gartner research shows that the top obstacle holding back supply chain digital transformation initiatives is the availability and quality of data that can accurately represent the end-to-end supply chain processes. In addition to the data quality, the amount of available data that is required to adequately train AI algorithms is not there. ChatGPT can do what it does because it was trained with 570GB data gathered from websites, books, Wikipedia, etc. across the internet. That is more than 300 billion words. How much good and clean data do you have that can be used for creating a complete digital image of your end-to-end supply network? Nobody really likes to take on master data initiatives, but it must be done. There are companies who are already doing it. The question is, how far behind can you afford to let your future supply chain fall?
Supply chain master data improvement is different from aged whiskey, in that you can get benefits as you go – you do not need to wait until the end to get those benefits. As the data improves, and stays good, all supply chain technologies can benefit from the high-quality data as it becomes available.
Is ChatGPT a Game Changer?
ChatGPT may not be the immediate and ultimate game changer in the daily lives of supply network planning, sourcing, making, delivering and returning activities. It does however provide a fantastic opportunity to explore and experiment with a real, full-scale AI solution. Supply chain leaders should encourage their people to experiment cautiously with ChatGPT. ChatGPT-generated responses are dependent on how the request, or prompt, is entered. This is an opportunity for us humans to learn a new way to interact with technology. It is not to be missed. It can process quite complex and detailed requests, and it will provide very impressive results. Supply chain and business leaders must warn their people against feeding the system with any company IP, or other confidential information. ChatGPT exists in the public domain, and it should be considered as a system open to the world.
ChatGPT, and solutions like it, are here to stay. Trying to fight it, or ignore it, is not going to make it go away. The free access ChatGPT provides to millions of people the fascinating capabilities of AI by accelerating the discovery of new use cases and possibilities these advanced technologies can offer.
To find out more about this topic, Gartner clients can read What CSCOs Should Know About ChatGPT’s Capabilities and Pitfalls.
Vice President, Analyst, Chief of Research
Gartner Supply Chain
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