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Supply Chain Management: Empowering the Future

Unleashing the Power of Advanced Analytics…and Students

The Supply Chain Management Association (SCMA) runs an annual inter-university competition in Canada that exposes students to the real-world supply chain challenges, including international trade regulations and export tariffs. Over one hundred students from three schools compete in groups of five, and judges select the winning team. As firm believers that the students who try to analyze these kinds of supply chain optimization problems will have a reduced learning curve when they step into their business careers, FICO was excited to serve as a sponsor and judge at this year’s competition.

I had the pleasure of being one of the judges, and so last month, I made my way to Hamilton, ON, home of McMaster University’s DeGroot School of Business, site of this year’s event. Now that I’ve seen it for myself, I’m excited to report that the SCMA case competition involves some of the smartest students and professionals in supply chain analytics. As I spent the day talking to students, judges, and faculty, I heard great stories about the innovative work they’re doing with analytics and big data as part of their academic coursework and research. At the end of the day, I felt confident that the future of the supply chain analytics field was in good hands.

I also got a chance to share how the Supply Chain Optimization Practice team at FICO has helped our clients save millions of dollars per year while improving their supply chain efficiency. The students were eager to hear some of our best practices, and they were especially enthusiastic about FICO’s mission of putting the power of analytics in the hands of end-users and daily decision makers. Finding myself in the position of “honorary professor,” I decided to impart three lessons to keep in mind as the students continued with their careers:

  1. Empowering business owners with customized analytical solutions designed to support day-to-day decision-making is the key step in taking supply chain performance to the next level.
  2. It is time to unleash the power of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI)! Years’ worth of stored operations data can reveal trends that had previously gone undetected, subsequently feeding a prescription for game-changing outcomes.
  3. Regardless of industry, the combination of predictive analytics (ML and AI) and prescriptive analytics (optimization) is transforming how decisions are made. It is not a coincidence that the world’s most successful organizations have made smart investments in analytics.
SCMA Student Case Competition

Finally, as I alluded to earlier, events such as SCMA’s student competition are producing our future leaders, which is why I’m excited that FICO is actively involved. It’s the same philosophy behind our annual sponsorship of the Informs Conference (coming in April to Baltimore), our creation of the FICO Xpress Community page (including a free Xpress Community downloadable license), and our recent decision to make our Mosel programming language free and open. FICO is serious about empowering the optimizers of tomorrow with the best tools today.

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