Woolworths: powering next generation supply chains
In an announcement made by Woolworths, the company has launched its Primary Connect supply chain platform, to accelerate the adoption of next generation supply chains.
Rebranding its internal supply chain functions to ‘Primary Connect’, as part of the platform launch, Woolworths will begin to provide end-to-end services to not only its own retail businesses but an increasing number of partners. Driving this transition is the separation of Endeavour Group from Woolworth Group, making Primary Connect a full-service, supply chain service provider to BWS and Dan Murphy’s.
“Establishing the Primary Connect platform is a key step in our ambition to build Australia’s next generation supply chain. We run the largest and most distributed retail supply chain network in Australia. This size and scale provides us with a unique opportunity to deliver a lot of value to business partners both within our group and beyond,” commented Paul Graham, Primary Connect Managing Director, Woolworths.
“But it’s not enough to have a best-in-class network. To be successful in growing the platform, we need to deliver world-class customer service and build on our digital offering to deliver safer and smarter supply chain solutions for partners. We’ve never been better placed to do so.”
Currently Primary Connect serves over 1,000 external customers, working with over 70 trusted carrier partners to optimise its freight movements and improve utilisation in its end-to-end network.
Houston’s Farm has been a customer of Primary Connect since 2017, its CEO, Richard Hopkins, commented: “Primary Connect is a premium supply chain service provider with a vision similar to our own. We’ve established a close working relationship with them over the years and are able to share and implement ideas to improve our offering for customers. Working with Primary Connect has made transport and logistics much simpler for us to manage, and allowed us to focus on what we do best - growing the best quality fresh produce for Australian families.”
Beyond Limits: Cognitive AI in APAC
Courtesy of current estimates, it looks like Asia-Pacific AI will be worth US$136bn by 2025. Its governments and corporations invest more money than the rest of the world in AI tech, the data of its citizens is considered fair game, and its pilots are small-scale and, as a result, ruthlessly effective. This is why, according to Jeff Olson, Cognizant’s Associate Vice President for Projects, AI and Analytics, Digital Business and Technology, the APAC region ‘is right on the edge of an AI explosion’.
Now, startup Beyond Limits is pushing the boundaries of what AI can do, mirroring humans in its ability to find solutions with even limited information. As of this July, it’s partnered up with Mitsui, a global trading and investment company, to expand its impact in APAC.
How Does Beyond Limits Work?
Most AI companies claim that they can help businesses make better decisions. But many need astoundingly large stores of data to feed their information-hungry algorithms. Beyond Limits, in contrast, takes a different tack. Perfect data, after all, is largely a pipe dream kept alive by PhD students. In reality, systems must often make decisions from small, incomplete sets of intel.
But Beyond Limits’ AI is no black box. ‘When little to no data is available, Beyond Limits symbolic technologies rely on deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning capabilities’, explained Clare Walker, Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. While making these leaps in logic, however, the system also keeps track, ensuring that humans can review the AI’s ‘thought process’.
Why Partner With Mitsui?
Beyond Limits is built for specific applications such as energy, utilities, and healthcare—but lacks the extensive industry network of Mitsui. Partnering allows Beyond Limits to access a portfolio of firms specialising in minerals and metals, energy, infrastructure, and chemicals. ‘We’ve been working on this deal for several years’, said Mitsui’s Deputy General Manager Hiroki Tanabe. ‘Mitsui’s global portfolio and Beyond Limits’ AI technology will...deliver impact’.
In the first test of that dramatic statement, Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) will soon deploy Beyond Limits’ new system. If everything goes according to plan, LNG will optimise how it extracts and refines energy, making money for both itself and investors—including Mitsui. This, in fact, is Mitsui’s strategy: go digital and don’t look back.
Why Does This Matter?
Forty-five percent of Asia-Pacific companies surveyed in Cognizant’s thought leadership ebook consider themselves AI leaders. Positivity bias, that oh-so-common tendency of humans to position themselves as above average as compared to others, strikes again. (Most small companies fail to launch successful AI projects on their own.) And partly, this is because firms fail to integrate AI with industry expertise.
‘A large part of the focus on talent for AI today has been getting the people who are strong in mathematics, AI, and technologies’, said Olson. ‘But where you make your money out of AI projects is when you apply them to your business’. In short: APAC nations looking for ways to bridge the gap might follow Beyond Limits and Mitsui’s playbook—coupling startup AI with a corporate network.