CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
November 18, 2018
Forward Thinking

LevaData announces $12 million venture funding for AI tools

Artificial intelligence software can cut supply chain risk and cost, firm says.

Supply chain artificial intelligence provider LevaData said last week it will grow into new markets and expand its engineering and data science teams, after receiving $12 million in venture funding.

The money, which comes from the investment firm Tola Capital, follows a $5 million investment from the same company last year and brings Sunnyvale, Calif.-based LevaData's total venture funding to nearly $20 million.

LevaData says its flagship product, called Leva, is an artificial intelligence (AI)-based "advisor" that allows firms to reduce supply chain risk and cost by more closely managing their strategic sourcing and procurement processes. Along with the firm's cognitive sourcing platform, LevaData's software tools allow companies to gain rapid access to information, react more quickly to changes in the market, and become more agile organizations, LevaData CEO and Founder Rajesh Kalidindi said in an interview.

Some logistics firms have been hesitant in recent years to adopt data analytics tools, citing their insufficient databases or concerns about combining AI tools with human employees, Kalidindi said. But that has changed in the last six months, he said, as many logistics providers have embraced the trend of digitalization, which allows users to track and analyze nearly every supply chain operation and transaction with software and sensors.

"The power of data and analytics is how it can augment people's ability to drive value for their business," Kalidindi said. "You're kind of creating bionic capabilities, but there will always be the power of human intelligence for internal contacts, face to face conversations, and relationships."

Even if a company is concerned that its supply chain data may be messy or incomplete, users still have to use some portion of that data to make their decisions, he said. By adding structure to that data and enhancing it with external sources, AI tools can help users find insights, opportunities, and risks they couldn't have identified before, according to Kalidindi.

LevaData plans to use its new funding to expand the applications of its products to new markets, moving into areas like consumer packaged goods (CPG), telecommunications, and chemicals, in addition to its current applications in vertical sectors such as electronics, automotive and industrial equipment, and medical devices, he said. The company is also supporting its growth with new personnel, led by the hiring of Sreeni Iyer as chief technology officer (CTO), Kalidindi said.

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