How AI is being utilised in supply chain risk management

1 Dec 2023

Jonathan Ryan. Image: Overhaul

Overhaul’s Jonathan Ryan discusses his role as CPTO and the major tech trends affecting the supply chain and logistics industry.

Jonathan Ryan is the chief product and technology officer (CPTO) at supply chain risk management and logistics company, Overhaul.

Ryan began his journey with Overhaul in 2016, when he joined the company as a technical specialist shortly after completing his master’s degree in electronic business at University College Cork.

“I was fortunate enough to be one of the early Overhaul team members and was heavily involved in the launch of our risk management solution.”

Over the years, Ryan took on various positions at the company, from business analyst to vice-president of engineering. In early 2023, Ryan assumed his current position as CPTO and began leading the company’s product management, engineering, data, IoT (Internet of Things) and integrations teams.

“My passion lies in working with people and fostering close relationships within my teams, emphasising the importance of helping individuals excel in their areas of expertise and further develop their professional skills.”

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing in the current IT landscape and how are you addressing them?

Some of our biggest challenges include integrating large volumes of data from various third-party sources, staying ahead of rapid technological advancements and leveraging the power of AI and machine learning in our industry. Technologies like Azure Synapse and Delta Lake are helping us address the data integration challenge, making it significantly easier to manage and analyse large datasets, and providing a unified view of data that eliminates the need for endless spreadsheets.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation in a broad sense within your industry? How are you addressing it in your company?

In terms of digital transformation in the supply chain industry, we recognise the importance of centralising data into a ‘digital core’ that can be exposed to advanced AI models, such as GPT and other language models. This enables us to harness the power of these technologies to improve our processes and offerings. At Overhaul, we have been working on a risk monitoring solution that allows us to manage risk to our customer’s cargo in a single pane. Initially designed for human operators, we have increasingly exposed this data to our RiskGPT offering, which serves as a digital double-check for our risk managers. This allows them to operate with confidence, even under the pressure of the real-time constraints of cargo risk monitoring.

In addressing digital transformation within our industry, we are committed to staying ahead of the curve and continuously innovating our products and services. By embracing emerging technologies and integrating them into our solutions, we ensure that we are well-positioned to adapt to the evolving landscape and continue delivering value to our customers.

‘Addressing security challenges in the logistics industry demands a comprehensive approach’

Sustainability has become a key objective for businesses in recent years. What are your thoughts on how this can be addressed from an IT perspective?

At Overhaul, we’re in a particularly good position to help address sustainability. Being a logistics company, we have billions of data points on past shipments, which enables us to make recommendations to assist with sustainability initiatives, such as suggesting shipping lanes that maximise fuel economy and minimise wasted trips. We’re also exploring ways to leverage machine learning algorithms to predict and optimise route planning, reducing carbon emissions and promoting eco-friendly transportation practices.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically? 

The most significant recent advances have been in language models like GPT. These models allow us to streamline tedious processes and provide new capabilities that were not possible with traditional machine learning approaches, such as image recognition that can respond to novel situations, phone call capabilities and reasoning about shipment-level data. These advancements are transformative to supply chain risk management. I’m particularly excited about the potential for these models to revolutionise how we manage and optimise the supply chain, leading to significant efficiency gains and improved decision-making.

What are your thoughts on how we can address the security challenges currently facing your industry?

Addressing security challenges in the logistics industry demands a comprehensive approach that encompasses robust security measures, employee training and cross-functional collaboration. Implementing strong security protocols, such as encryption and multifactor authentication, is crucial to protect sensitive information and maintain secure operations. Regular security audits can help identify and remediate potential vulnerabilities, ensuring that the security infrastructure remains up to date and effective.

In addition to these measures, fostering a culture of security awareness among employees is critical to mitigating risks. Providing ongoing training and resources can empower staff members to recognise and respond to potential threats, reinforcing the overall security posture of the organisation.

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