Best AI-Based Supply Chain Optimisation Company Middle East - Magazine Editorial Interview

1. Firstly - please give us an overview of your company, the work that you do, your clients and the services you offer.  What are your core values/goals? How do these contribute to your overall success? Have these core values changed at all since your establishment?

SmartOpt is a deep technology company that integrates machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) with optimisation for the end-to-end supply chain management. SmartOpt has products that are offered on a SaaS principle covering the entire spectrum of supply chain processes ranging from strategy, planning and operations on one hand and from forecasting, procurement, inbound logistics, planning, inventory management and outbound logistics on the other hand. We optimise supply chain and logistics operations to decrease costs, reduce GHG emissions, improve customer service levels and increase operational efficiency. SmartOpt customers usually saves approximately 30% of their supply chain and logistics costs. SmartOpt treats all of their customers as strategic partners in customising their tools (ForecastOpt®, InventoryOpt®, MilkRunOpt®, NetOpt®, PlanOpt®, RouteOpt®, PriceOpt®) to unique needs of the customers.  These tools are designed deployed into the ERP, MEX systems of the customers quickly allowing its customers to reap the advantages offered by SmartOpt solutions as quickly as possible. SmartOpt tools and services are used across all of the enterprise functions including finance, planning, IT, procurement, sales&marketing, operations and supply chain/logistics: all of these functional departments work and share with the same data and optimised results.  SmartOpt was established with the end-to-end integrated supply chain visibility and optimisation vision in 2020 and this core value has not changed.

2. What kind of clients do you serve and how do you approach them? How do you differentiate yourself from potential competitors (if relevant)? What is, essentially, your unique selling point?

SmartOpt serves enterprises in manufacturing, consumer goods, defence, oil and energy, basic materials including metals and chemicals, FMCG and logistics&transportation sectors. SmartOpt has its proprietary software solutions that integrate machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) with optimisation. These solutions are developed on a single platform and they are integrated among each other for a customised end-to-end supply chain solution and also are integrated with the enterprises’ ERP and other data services. SmartOpt continuously devotes significant portion of their resources to R&D to keep the highest level of innovation in its products and services. SmartOpt’s SaaS principle offers fast implementation of their solutions without significant costs while reflecting the innovations on the services continuously.

3. What role do your staff play in the success of your firm? What qualities do you look for when recruiting new talent? How would you describe your internal culture and how does it contribute to you company’s success?

SmartOpt employs brightest and motivated staff that is companionate about solving customers’ problems regarding end-to-end supply chain visibility and efficiency. Most of SmartOpt employees have double degrees (industrial&systems engineering, computer science, electronics engineering, mechanical/manufacturing engineering, economics, business administration) and have masters and PhD degrees (in engineering, data science and artificial intelligence). The SmartOpt culture is oriented towards problem solving and creating value. We work with the principle of: ‘Knowing is not enough; we must apply Willing is not enough; we must do’ - Goethe The culture of not accepting status-quo, always exploring new ideas, methods and solutions to create value for our customers defines SmartOpt’s DNA.

4. Can you detail any specific industry-based challenges you are facing now and may do in the near future?  By extension, if applicable, what impact has COVID-19 had on your industry or operations? Were there any unexpected benefits or advantages to the situation you found yourself in?

SmartOpt serves its customers to have a holistic view of the end-to-end supply chains that requires data sharing and collaboration among different functional departments of an enterprise.  One of the most critical factors in end-to-end supply chain integration is understanding and managing operations under uncertainty.  There are two important sources of uncertainty: the raw material (or component) procurement nodes and the markets that the supply chains serve.  Although these two nodes are at the two extremes of the supply chain, due to enterprise cultural mindset, they are always treated with different skill and toolset.  ForecastOpt® is used by different functional departments in the enterprise for forecasting the demand of products and services in different markets, forecasting the demand of raw materials and components at different sources, forecasting the prices of utilities including electricity with 1-hr resolution with high precision and low standard deviation.  This is possible with our collection of statistical learning, ML and AI in a single platform that automatically selects the best method and also optimises the parameters in these methods without user intervention. One of our customers was able to reduce the standard deviation demand from 40% to 15% on annual basis that resulted in significant reductions in inventory holding cost.  Many enterprises realized that many decision makers have to work remotely. SmartOpt products are designed as platform and operating system agnostic; therefore the products and services are accessible from different locations with proper security measures.  During COVID-19 restrictions SmartOpt products have been used without any disruptions of the workflow of enterprises.

5. Do you have any plans for 2023 and beyond that you would like to share with our readers?

SmartOpt has plans to extend the capabilities of its products in two areas: environmental compliance and integration of business intelligence in the decision processes.  It has become a business imperative that businesses and supply chains measure, report and reduce their GHG emissions.  Four of our products, MilkRunOpt®, NetOpt®, PlanOpt®, RouteOpt®, GHG emission models already included in our standard methods.  We plan to include GHG emission models to all of our products and services. We are also conducting extensive research on the next generation AI methods for sentiment analysis and business intelligence for ForecastOpt® and NetOpt®.