So-called decision intelligence technology could change the way fresh produce companies plan their supply and respond to changes in the market

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Image: Dall-E

In the fresh produce business, decision-makers face a daily barrage of choices. Many of these decisions seem minor, but some carry significant weight. These require detailed analysis and careful consideration to achieve the best outcomes.

Given the perishable nature of our goods, however, decisions often have to be made swiftly, without the luxury of extensive deliberation over each product or process.

Often, this can be frustrating. Professionals complete numerous mainly operational tasks each day but, despite this, they realise they have no opportunity to focus on impactful decisions.

The idea behind decision support technology is to get the best of both worlds. To enable fast and informed decisions, and to maximise one of your team’s most valuable yet under-appreciated resources – its intellectual capacity.

Tech empowerment

Analytics, algorithms, AI, and other technologies can be integrated into decision support platforms. They enable users to interpret information swiftly, and provide a basis for informed decision-making.

Imagine the scenario: a fresh produce professional must revise a demand plan for the coming week. In the past, most of the time spent on this task involved collecting and presenting data. There was little opportunity to generate insights, make decisions, or take action.

The result? Information overload, redundant tasks, and – critically – scarce time for the most vital part of the process: making actionable decisions.

With a decision support platform, the narrative shifts dramatically. Now, professionals can use analytics to assess past performance quickly, plan accurately, and uncover insights within seconds.

For instance, they might notice a new promotional activity. Starting with a proposal prepared by the forecasting model, they can trigger allocation tools to check for supply coverage, and easily implement changes to the remaining SKUs — all through an integrated planning tool.

Colleagues downstream receive these insights promptly, ready to make informed decisions themselves. The cycle of gathering, analysing, and acting is more efficient, freeing up time to focus on value-driven activities.

Stay in the loops

A crucial yet frequently underestimated element in the deployment of decision support tech is the pivotal role of user feedback.

The secret lies in perceiving machine learning and similar technologies as promising new team members. Provide them with feedback, and you unlock their potential to grow and make increasingly significant contributions over time, which enhances team and company performance.

This collaboration initiates a positive feedback loop. As users contribute more feedback, the decision support system becomes more accurate in its predictions, insights, and recommendations.

This process builds trust in the system. It promotes further use and fosters quicker generation of value. The loop acts as a powerful catalyst, one which amplifies both intellectual resources and business outcomes.

For those in the fresh produce business that want to break free from the routine, and focus on genuinely impactful work, this is a flywheel worth spinning.