In the age of global trade, measuring supply chain risk is the business world’s version of playing “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”.
If it goes without saying that all people in Hollywood are but a few movie credits away from the Footloose star, it’s no exaggeration to say that all businesses – buyers and suppliers – are also connected, in one way or another, no matter where they are or what they do.
The challenge for companies is to understand where the risks lie, particularly across borders.
“There are a lot of things that are disrupting in the world at the network level, not at the level of the buyer-supplier relationship,” Altana Technologies Executive Director Evan Smith He told Karen Webster.
It’s that sixth or seventh degree of separation that ends up causing the seismic shift, and it’s somewhere at the top of the supply chain.
Beyond the challenges of COVID, businesses, logistics providers, and governments must also monitor the changing risks and disruptions – environmental and geopolitical – that could bring trade to a standstill or even make it difficult to get goods in the first place. Regulations and ban on import fluid.
But as Smith said, “Everything has been obscured by this interconnected but opaque haze. What we are trying to do is remove this haze first.” He said that visibility can be greatly improved by using a network approach to create a single, unified view of supply chain risks.
Smith said artificial intelligence, machine learning and standardized knowledge graphs could create a network that illuminates large-scale, real-time information about global supply chains. This shared data helps users of Altana’s Atlas platform make better decisions about extended supply chains—measuring not only the risks inherent in direct supplier relationships, but also the threats lurking in the continents.
“Globalization 2.0 will be defined by these trusted networks,” he said.
Google Maps – For Business Networking
Altana has its origins in 2018, but Smith’s fascination with Earth-scale physical systems predates the company’s founding, and he has spent years in the renewable energy sector and at a company that was focused on automating the textile supply chain.
“I came to appreciate the fact that the whole world supply chain.” “It is not a real thing… it is bone interesting thing. “
He said that when Altana was established as a subscription-based data provider, the most compelling opportunity was data binding that “integrates” customer data to falsify maps.
Having spent millions of dollars on commercial data and cloud technology to build Atlas Seeds, the platform now consolidates billions of records in multiple languages, with non-commercial information collected from 420 million entities and analyzed at scale.
One Atlas counterpart: think of Google Maps, but of business networks, as companies seek business continuity and refine their strategy.
Sure, there are other technologies and solutions to supply chain risk — and comprehensive mapping databases, too — but Smith says there are few with the underlying map of the business world, at scale, where networks are visually connected by a complex chain of else networks.
In the background, he said, Altana’s investigative users help scour the world for dangers. That risk could include exposing everything, from Western technology finding its way into Russian weapons systems, to Uyghurs toiling in forced labor in China, making pants, jeans, and sweaters ubiquitous around the world.
“They are also looking at entire supply chains, examining where there are vulnerabilities due to business interruptions or threats to the nation state,” he said.
These subtle levels of insight can help break down data warehouses where Altana’s customer companies discover — through several degrees of separation — whether suppliers are doing business in ways that are inconsistent with customer values. And when anomalies are detected, the platform can suggest an alternative for Atlas users, who are usually operations managers or purchasing officers (and sustainability staff as well).
Smith explained that through the company’s unified learning platform, Altana Atlas is constantly learning from billions of data points gleaned from both public and non-public data. He stressed that “we take a copy of that data and download it to the customer’s ‘talk’. We bring the map to you, not the other way around.”
Intelligent information is shared across the network and between all users, but not the data itself. Effectively every organization has its own thumbprint for data that will be used within the confines and privacy of their organizations, but this information never leaves the generated “speaker”.
The next level of supply chain efficiency
Atlas Supply Chain Analytics can “run” product groups through virtual supply chains spread across new countries – orchestrating different supply and demand scenarios across multiple levels of supply chains. After all, buyers have learned over the past few years that they must have a range of suppliers on hand and pivot as needed when national security concerns arise or a natural disaster strikes.
Altana announced earlier this month that it had raised $100 million in a Series B funding round, and in the future there is an opportunity to put other functions on top of the platform, including financing and insurance.
“The big unresolved problem that I’m really excited about is buy-order financing. Nobody cracked that up. And I think we can do some very new things there,” Webster said.
For now, Smith said, “we’re trying to bring everyone to a common source of truth where we collaborate with each other, communicate and then do business — across the dimensions of climate, national security and trade compliance that require this network coordination.”
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