How Augmented Intelligence Can Help Optimize Supply Chain Management
In its various forms, human augmentation is being applied across industries to boost efficiency, productivity, and profit. In fact, this sector is gaining steam at such a rapid pace that by 2026, the global human augmentation market could reach USD 341.2 billion by 2026, according to MarketsandMarkets™.
Since there are many different types of human augmentation technologies, market predictions differ depending upon what applications are included, and not all specifically apply to the supply chain.
However, when describing dynamics in the North American market, Expert Market Research (EMR) cited the “rising necessity to enhance workplace productivity” as a contributor to market growth: “North America is expected to emerge as a significant market for human augmentation in the forecast period due to its various advantages, such as convenience, efficiency, and portability. The demand for the product is expected to increase in the region due to its ability to enhance workplace productivity and effectiveness.”
Here, we’ll take a look at one type of human augmentation that fits the bill for doing exactly that: augmented intelligence.
A Tale of Two AIs
Global Industry Analysts (GIA) defines human augmentation as “the technology designed to increase human productivity and improve the capabilities of the human body or mind”—and artificial intelligence (AI) plays a big role in making this possible.
In supply chain management, AI has rapidly transformed from a nice-to-have tool to a must-have requirement to keep up with unprecedented supply chain disruptions and the rapid pace of change.
It’s also a key ingredient in the recipe for the other AI—augmented intelligence—which is also referred to as intelligence augmentation (IA), a transposition that might make it easier to differentiate between the two.
Gartner defines augmented intelligence as “a design pattern for a human-centered partnership model of people and artificial intelligence (AI) working together to enhance cognitive performance, including learning, decision making and new experiences.” According to that definition, augmented intelligence is one type of human augmentation.
This video from IBM Technology explains the difference between artificial intelligence and augmented intelligence.
Augmented Intelligence in Supply Chain Management
Although not specifically referred to as augmented intelligence, a recent Material Handling & Logistics article aptly described it within the context of human augmentation technologies.
“Across industries, there is a massive shift underway to use emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to improve both processes and systems, especially in supply chain management to improve decision support and improve productivity,” wrote Paul J. Noble, founder and CEO of Verusen. “AI is the process of learning from existing data while supplementing human work to achieve desired goals more quickly, more efficiently and at lower costs. This practice is known as human augmentation—using AI technologies to increase our human capacities and capabilities. …Using AI and human augmentation in supply chain management could transform the existing paradigm through a mix of task replication or task supplementation.”
Another example is an article on the Körber Supply Chain Blog entitled, “Human Augmentation: Improving Worker Productivity and Capabilities with AI and Machine Learning.”
Part of a series about human augmentation, the article describes the role of these technologies within warehouse operations. Here are a few highlights:
“Though supply chain management has historically been a human-centric industry, there has been a significant spike in interest around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.”
“AI replicates neural networks. But, it can’t do what a human can.”
These technologies complement the work of humans, “bringing efficiencies and new opportunities to the table.”
“Both AI and machine learning are critical technologies for assisting and scaling the employees that warehouses already have.”
Additionally, the article notes that human augmentation technologies can offer key benefits to the supply chain industry that include:
Improving the design of warehouses
Meeting e-commerce demands
Improving job satisfaction
Augmented Intelligence Market Growth
According to a recently-released MarketsandMarkets™ research report, the augmented intelligence market is projected to experience significant growth over the next few years—jumping from USD 17.9 billion in 2022 to USD 54.7 billion in 2027, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 25.1% during the forecast period.
An April 5th press release provided additional background: “Augmented intelligence (AI), also known as intelligence augmentation (IA), cognitive augmentation, decision support, machine augmented intelligence, and enhanced intelligence, is essentially artificial intelligence with a twist. While artificial intelligence is the creation of machines to work and react like humans, augmented intelligence is the use of those same machines in a different way – to augment the human worker. Augmented intelligence entails humans and machines collaborating to maximize business value by playing to their respective strengths. In other words, the primary goal of IA is to enable humans to work more efficiently and effectively.”
Additionally, “The evolution of digital technologies, such as cloud computing, big data and analytics, mobility/social media, blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and cybersecurity, has created the need for digitalization across several industries. These technologies are used by enterprises to improve or add more features to their traditional business processes while also helping enhance customer relationships.”
MarketsandMarkets™ notes that augmented intelligence technologies “are gaining acceptance among all verticals to improve profitability and reduce overall costs.” Major industries adopting this technology include:
IT & Telecom
Retail & Consumer Goods
Healthcare & Life Sciences
Government & Defense
Energy & Utilities
Transportation & Logistics
Media & Entertainment
Others (Travel, Hospitality, Research and Academia)