Forecasting demand for a product has always been as much art as science. Manufacturers have traditionally relied on past results as a guide to future performance. Sometimes, it works. You can reasonably spot seasonality and other macro trends, but often events are hard to predict: Bad weather keeps customers away from stores, video for a product catches fire on the internet and sparks demand, experts predicted the hot color would be gray, but now it’s blue.

To get a better handle on trends and predict surprises, Grant Norris, the global SAP practice leader at DXC Technology, says manufacturers should look at intelligent delivery solutions that can create an automated digital response to customer demand. This means creating a solution that bridges the gap between markets and large enterprise resource planning systems. The system that results gives customers an enhanced experience, but it also creates digital demand signals for manufacturers that can be used to improve the accuracy and granularity of manufacturing runs.

“We’ve built a demo to demonstrate how SAP technology can be used to drive an intelligent demand-driven system that’s responsive to the customer. It simulates different customer order-entry methods, including augmented reality, normal web ordering, Amazon IoT [internet of things] buttons, and also integrates 16 different software components using two different sets of AI [artificial intelligence],” Norris says.

This enhanced, multichannel customer experience is then connected into the SAP structure, which is equipped with an intelligent forecasting system. “This allows us to stack the warehouse with product that then is delivered through a robotic system to the customer. It demonstrates not only how you can have a great customer experience but also how you can automate your entire supply chain to be responsive to demand as it comes in through your customers and then use a robotic automated warehouse system that [handles] order fulfillment,” Norris says.

For someone who’s been in the industry for 30 years, seeing digital manufacturing and fulfillment joined with a digital customer experience is very satisfying, Norris says. “I am kind of a nerd about this. I do get excited about the stuff. But you can really change how business operates much more than we ever could.”

See the complete interview with Grant Norris and learn more about the possibilities that intelligent delivery offers in the one-minute video.