Be a Supply Chain Ambassador

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Guest Blog: ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

“In the first three months of 2019, employees got so much more work done that they smashed productivity forecasts,” writes Alexia Fernández Campbell for Vox Media. “That’s great for businesses (they earn more money) and for the economy (GDP grows faster). The problem is that companies aren’t rewarding their employees for the extra hard work.”

A recent Gallup World Poll bears out the author’s conclusions, finding that 85% of workers are displeased with their jobs.

As I read this article and considered that unfortunate statistic, I couldn’t help but reflect on ASCM’s brand new 2019 Supply Chain Salary and Career Survey Report. With so many people feeling underappreciated and underpaid — in fact, there were a record number of strikes in the United States last year — this survey reveals that supply chain salaries are on the rise and industry professionals truly love their jobs.

The median supply chain salary in 2018 was $80,000, a 3% increase over 2017. Even more importantly, an overwhelming majority of respondents say they are very or extremely satisfied in their jobs.

This report confirms what all of us at ASCM and every supply chain professional already know: Supply chain careers are rewarding, both professionally and personally. We at ASCM are also proud to discover that the median salary for people with at least one APICS certification is 25% higher than those without. And, in addition to the power of APICS education to advance careers, our initiatives related to women in supply chain are paying off: The gap between men’s and women’s salaries is narrowing, especially for professionals under 40, where the difference is less than $1,000.

Put the findings to work

As we continue to face a vast talent gap, this report highlights numerous opportunities to attract more people to the supply chain. But ASCM can’t do it alone; we need your help.

Begin by talking to the young people in your life about why you are passionate about what you do. Describe your job and how it has a positive influence on the entire business, the lives of your customers and the communities in which they live.

Explain why you look forward to staying in supply chain for years to come (93% of respondents believe they will stay in the field; 44% say they definitely will).

And tell them about the work-life balance you enjoy (nearly all respondents receive holiday pay, and the majority receive three weeks or more paid time off, as well as flexible work schedules).

Then, take a moment to download the survey and post it in your social channels. Share something that you’re especially excited about with the hashtag #lovemyjob. As more and more people outside the industry experience our enthusiasm, they will see that supply chain professionals are highly sought after by employers, make a difference at our organisations and have truly fulfilling careers.

To find out more about APICS certification, visit Australasian Supply Chain Institute – the Premier Channel Partner – for Australian Semester schedules and prices.

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Are we ready for Industry 4.0?

Guest Blog: Rob Stummer, CEO, Australasia, SYSPRO

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With all the discussion around Industry 4.0, how ready are we for it in this region and how many manufacturers have fully embraced it? It’s widely agreed that manufacturing has experienced a decade of productivity stagnation and demand fragmentation and the fact is that this level of innovation is long overdue. It’s been proven that the Australasian organisations that have taken Industry 4.0 innovation to scale beyond the pilot phase have experienced unprecedented increases in efficiency with minimal loss of employees.

The main issue reported by McKinsey and the World Economic Forum is that most companies appear to be stuck in the pilot phase and despite all the research and evidence saying that it will lead to a sizeable increase in global wealth production, benefiting people throughout society, the Australia and New Zealand governments have not done enough to help its advancement.

Globally it is having an impact globally across multiple sectors, simplifying things by streamlining processes, reducing human labour, fostering global interconnectedness and leading to unlimited possibilities. But is Australasia really ready for Industry 4.0?

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Automation won’t take jobs

There has been a lot of scaremongering about the risk to jobs due to automation, but technology and changing consumer preferences are driving the demand for new skills and jobs. In many cases, these emerging technologies have improved processes without shedding jobs and have made businesses more competitive than they have ever been, resulting in lower prices for consumers, higher wages for employees or higher profits, leading to increased demand and more jobs.

The previous industrial revolutions have shown us that, in the long run, technology and other labour market changes have been positive for many employees, removing the jobs that nobody wants to do as they can be unpleasant, physically exhausting and dangerous or boring and repetitive.

In smart factories, the emphasis will be on adding value, and up-skilled workers will be highly sought after for their specialist knowledge and ability to innovate.

Will bots take over the world?

There are a lot of myths surrounding AI, and science fiction movies often portray it as robots with human-like characteristics taking control and using their super-intelligence against us. There’s no doubt that AI does raise a whole host of complex questions, and that the current way the industry does certain things will become defunct.

We can’t ignore the fact that the Australian manufacturers that are leveraging AI have made their companies far more efficient and productive. This is a trend that their leaders see as inexorable, and the pressure on them to adapt and compete is huge.

Automation is essential

Automation is working extremely well in several different manufacturing scenarios, particularly when finite precision is needed, in challenging or dangerous work environments, where repetition happens and when personalisation and configuration are required.

So, what does automation look like in practice in an industrial environment? There are many tasks that could be carried out by a robot; not only would they be more efficient, but also the employees could then focus on more complex work.

The real benefits of automation are what makes it truly worth the investment, including increased efficiency, reduced costs, improved safety and wellbeing for employees, due to avoiding monotony and a clear competitive advantage over manufacturers that choose not to automate. Automation is clearly the future of Australasian manufacturing and its influence will only increase as competition from China and other developing Asian nations grows.

Rob Stummer is CEO, Australasia, SYSPRO

 

 

Spacious Potential in the Sharing Economy

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

The sharing economy is no longer just a catchy turn of phrase; today, sharing, renting and subscription services are everywhere. AirBnB for your holiday rental; WeWork for freelancers who prefer the office environment; Rover for the pup’s midday walk; Uber and Lyft when you need someone to drive you places; and Zipcar, LimeBike or Bird Scooters when you’d rather do the driving yourself. The potential applications are endless.

Although only 19 percent of U.S. adults have engaged in a sharing-economy transaction, PwC research reveals that 83 percent of survey respondents believe these services make life more convenient and efficient, 76 percent say they are better for the environment, and 43 percent admit that owning things can feel like a burden.

As ownership becomes unfashionable, the fashion industry is also taking notice.

“In October, the mall fixture [Express] launched Style Trial, a service that allows customers to borrow up to three pieces — with no limits on exchanges, free shipping both ways and free dry cleaning — for $69.95 per month,” writes Jasmin Malik Chua in Sourcing Journal. “If a subscriber loves something to death, she can buy it at a discount for keeps. Otherwise, she can keep garments circulating in an eternally refreshed ‘closet in the cloud’ with virtually infinite options yet zero commitments.”

Jim Hilt, Express executive vice president and chief customer experience officer, explains that this allows customers to tap the company’s “full assortment and styling services without breaking the budget.”

In addition to this kind of flexibility and cost savings, sharing clothes eliminates the hassle of shopping malls and the time spent packing bags for donation — not to mention all those minutes staring at our wardrobes trying to decide if an item still sparks joy.

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Shifting business models

Until very recently, most of us would never have considered staying in some random person’s home while on vacation, let alone sharing a sweater with a bunch of strangers. Yet today, Airbnb averages 425,000 guests per night — nearly 22 percent more than Hilton Worldwide.

“The data shows, renting and sharing are becoming increasingly popular alternatives,” the PwC report asserts. “Executives will be wise to assess the role of their product and brand in this model — are you squarely a purveyor of goods, or are you an enabler?”

For those supply chain managers bracing for change and facing some tough calls concerning clothing lifespans; quality control of shared garments; and logistics economics, especially for lower-cost items, there is some good news. The sharing economy is also flourishing in the education space, with LinkedIn Learning, Grow with Google, and a seemingly infinite number of instructive and informative videos on YouTube. Our own channel is bursting at the seams with customer success stories, webinars, research, annual conference sessions, and a multitude of supply chain education tailored to fit just right.

To join ASCM, joint membership is available through Australasian Supply Chain Institute for just $440 per annum. Visit our website for a full list of membership benefits.

Indian regulations rain on Amazon and Walmart’s e-commerce parade

By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

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Amazon and Walmart subsidiary Flipkart is scrambling to revamp its supply chains, vendor relationships and systems. New regulations from the world’s fastest growing economy have undermined these retailers’ business models and obstructed their sales in India’s burgeoning e-commerce sector.

Previously, foreign companies were forbidden from holding their own online inventory and shipping it directly to customers. Amazon had found a workaround in the form of local subsidiaries of firms in which it had holdings, which opponents insisted was violating the spirit of the rule. Largely due to such proxy sellers, Amazon and Walmart had controlled almost 80 percent of India’s e-commerce.

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But as of February 1, such goods are not permitted for sale by foreign companies. In addition, these firms are barred from entering into exclusive online sales agreements. A vendor’s inventory also will be considered under the control of an e-commerce marketplace if more than one-quarter of its sales are derived there.

The protectionist move follows ongoing complaints from domestic retailers over anticompetitive practices. Amazon and Walmart both requested a six-month postponement of the effective date but were denied.

“Thousands of products were pulled from Amazon.com Inc.’s India website Friday — the first direct impact from the country’s new e-commerce rules,” writes Corinne Abrams in the Wall Street Journal. The article goes on to explain that the restrictions are the latest effort by India to curb U.S. tech giants’ dominance in the country and “promote homegrown companies” as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks a second term.

“Both Amazon and Walmart have made big bets in India, where the e-commerce market is estimated to balloon to $72 billion in 2022,” Abrams adds. “Amazon has pledged to invest $5 billion to expand in [India], while Walmart’s takeover of India’s Flipkart for $16 billion was its biggest acquisition ever.”

Global supply chain know-how

The operations of these e-commerce giants have been thrown into disarray. As these companies, and others, navigate such severe regulatory pressure, success will hinge upon the effectiveness, responsiveness and flexibility of their supply chains.

ASCM provides the resources you need to plot your own course through the ever-shifting global marketplace. The APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) program enables individuals to master the fundamentals of supply chain strategy, business model design, relationship-building, risk management and much more. In particular, the CSCP learning system includes a module centered around monetary, regulatory and trade considerations; negotiation and collaboration; and international standards and compliance. Begin your journey toward this world-class certification today.

The Australasian Supply Chain Institute (ASCI) is the Premier Channel Partner for APICS and offers joint memberships with ASCI for local and ASCM for global membership for both corporates and individuals. Contact us today at http://www.asci.org.au/membership or enquiries@asci.org.au.

Climate Change Disruptors on the Rise

By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

As I write this, the National Weather Service (NWS) is warning of severe cold here in Chicago, with wind chill temperatures expected to reach an excruciating 55 below zero. The NWS has even urged us to protect our lungs by minimizing talking and not taking deep breaths. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, people in South Australia’s coastal capital of Adelaide are facing a different kind of lung injury — from dangerous air quality and ozone exposure. Adelaide recently reached 46.2 Celsius (nearly 116 degrees Fahrenheit), breaking a 130-year record.

When we talk about extreme weather statistics such as these, they are typically followed by warnings of disastrous sea levels, catastrophic Arctic ice decline, and life-threatening floods or hurricanes. “Not enough water to make Coke” and “sweltering Disney theme parks” do seem to pale in comparison. However, a recent Bloomberg article suggests that climate change will have a business impact that is devastating in its own way.

“Climate change is expected to cascade through the economy — disrupting supply chains, disabling operations and driving away customers,” author Christopher Flavelle writes, adding that numerous executives see “inherent climate-related risks with the potential to have a substantial financial or strategic impact on their business.”

Visit ASCI’s previous blog form Corporate Member – Nufarm – who utilises specific advanced analytics for predicting and planning for weather patterns.

One of the most commonly cited issues by company leaders is draught. Specifically, in addition to Coca-Cola fearing water shortages will threaten its bottling operations, Intel is concerned about escalating costs for the water-intensive process of semiconductor manufacturing.

Other professionals are kept up at night worrying about damage to their networks from hurricanes and wildfires (AT&T), global pandemics dissuading people from travel (VISA), and increased flooding and flood insurance premiums forcing mortgage holders to default on payments (Bank of America).

Interestingly, some organizations have identified opportunities amid the chaos, as climate change can “bolster demand for their products.” With more people facing illness, Merck & Co. sees the potential for “expanded markets for products for tropical and weather-related diseases,” Apple predicts disasters will make its iPhone “even more vital to people’s lives,” and Home Depot expects higher air conditioner and ceiling fan sales.

Sustainable supply chains

No matter where your company falls on the threat-versus-opportunity spectrum, climate change is altering the global economy immensely, and supply chains must transform to survive. At this time of both challenge and potential, ASCM is collaborating with a network of world-class organizations — including The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Accenture, Deloitte and PwC — to create opportunities for the kind of supply chain innovation that will be mandatory in the coming years.

In addition, our new SCOR-Enterprise (SCOR-E) designation features an ecological dimension, which focuses on the circular economy, climate strategy, energy, water and waste, material usage, and product life-cycle stewardship. SCOR-E is the industry’s first and only corporate supply chain designation.

I hope you will make the most of these valuable member benefits. ASCM mission-driven strategic initiatives such as these draw on the power of supply chains to address pressing global issues and achieve the brightest futures for individuals, companies and communities.

For more information, please visit the ASCI website and select ASCI Plus Membership which include your local and global membership with ASCM.

Top five supply chain podcasts of 2018

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Australasian Supply Chain Institute has reviewed podcasts interviews all over the globe to bring you the very best for your listening pleasure over the holiday break:

1.The Future of Work

Jacqui Canney, is EVP and Chief People Officer at Walmart and Clay Johnson, is EVP and Chief Information Officer at Walmart.

Jacqui is focused on the development, the retention and the rewarding of their 2 million employees. Clay is charged with putting ICT and HR together to create more productivity and automation. Walmart is the world’s largest employer with 5000 stores in the U.S and 10,000 globally.

Duration: 1 hour

ASCI review: An unbeatable interview on how Walmart is evolving and using tech to train and up skill their workforce; how they are using Blockchain to track food; what the future of Walmart looks like 5-10 years out. An interview just darn worth your time. 

2. ASCI Lounge

Daniel Kohut, Director, Solutions Advisor at JDA, shares his sales and operations planning expertise starting from his Australian career pathway, to the present day and the importance of professional development for supply chain experts in the midst of an era of digitisation transformation.

Duration: 20 minutes

ASCI review: So great to hear the Aussie accent and someone so passionate about the future of supply chain careers. Some good advice for professional development. 

3. Talking Logistics

Scroll straight to Episode 6: Angie Freeman, Chief Human Resources Officer, CH Robinson shares insights and ideas on the importance of recruitment and talent in the supply chain industry.

Duration: 29 mins

ASCI review: Best take on articulating the challenges in a succinct interview.

4. Supply Chain Now

Sandra MacQuillan serves as the Senior Director of Supply Chain Strategy & Transformation for Kimberly-Clark, where she leads company’s global supply chain, with responsibility for procurement, logistics, manufacturing, quality, safety, and sustainability.

Amy Gray serves as HR Director for Global Supply Chain at Kimberly-Clark. Amy has served in a variety of HR-related roles at K-C over the last 12 years, to include HR Business Partner and HR Project Leader.

Duration: 1 hour

ASCI review: Jump to 18 minutes in..the first part is just chatter. Interesting take on diversity to better represent customer profiles and global reach.

5. ASCI Lounge

Indrasen Naidoo, Director, Supply Chain System Transformation, Roy Hill (a 55 mega tonne per annum iron ore producer in Western Australia), joins us on the ASCI Lounge to reflect on Roy Hill’s roadmap for Intelligent Supply Chain for Assets, highlighting the need for leadership capacity; rethinking flows; and applying expert technology.

Duration: 20 minutes

ASCI review: Some salient points on how supply chain in Australia is stuck in traditional programs and what Roy Hill has done to move the dial. 

Enjoy your holiday podcast listening!

ASCI Lounge is Australasia’s supply chain podcast channel with over 3,500 downloads since 2016. To book an interview, or to join a panel discussion on a particular topic, email the ASCI National Office at enquiries@asci.org.au

ASCI National Office is closed from Friday 21 December however, you can purchase Guided Learning registration right up until 6 January 2019. For more information, visit: www.asci.org.au/education 

Monique Fenech is the host of the ASCI Lounge podcast channel.

 

 

 

Does Your Company Have the ‘Right Stuff’ to Embrace Advanced Analytics?

By: Henry Canitz – Director Product Marketing & Business DevelopmentPicture1

John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth on Mercury-Atlas 6 on February 20, 1962, just a few days after I was born. I grew up watching the Apollo Space Program launches including the six launches that sent humans to the moon and back. Like many kids back then I dreamed of being a test pilot and an Astronaut. I partially achieved that dream by becoming an Aerospace Test Engineer and working at Edwards Air Force Base where many of the early test flights by Chuck Yeager, Scott Crossfield, and other’s took place. On February 6, 2018, 56 years after John Glenn’s historic launch, SpaceX launched their Falcon Heavy rocket with Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster and a dummy named Starman on a journey into the solar system. The Falcon Heavy is a new class of rockets that may allow man to colonize Mars and beyond. Today, space launches are routine with launches happening on a monthly if not weekly basis. Exciting stuff for someone who dreamed of being an astronaut.

It is also an exciting time to be a Supply Chain Practitioner. Like space exploration, the supply chain has become significantly more complicated over the last 25 years. Technological advances have simplified and automated a lot of routine processes while opening up entirely new opportunities. These new frontiers require advanced capabilities to drive business value such as cost reduction and customer service improvements. Analytics, for example, today is a routine part of a supply chain professional’s job. We can now analyze the end-to-end supply chain and quickly determine the best path forward. While speaking with practitioners at industry events it is quite apparent, some supply chain teams have the ‘Right Stuff’ to fully embrace advanced analytics while others are just beginning their journey.

Moving up the analytics maturity curve takes a combination of the right talent, processes and enabling technology. Unfortunately, the people component is often not adequately addressed. As supply chain planning incorporates more data, supply chain roles need to be redefined to support analysis and decision making. Just as Chuck Yeager had to acquire new abilities and skills to break the sound barrier, companies have to define new skills and roles to meet their envisioned advanced analytic enabled processes.

Below are a few of the new analytic roles for leading supply chain teams today:

  • Business Analyst: understands business needs, assesses the business impact of changes, captures, analyses and documents requirements and communicates requirements to relevant stakeholders.
  • Supply Chain Analyst: responsible for improving the performance of an operation by figuring out what is needed and coordinating with other employees to implement and test new supply chain methods.
  • Artificial Intelligence Specialist: work on systems that not only gather information but formulate decisions and act on that information. Software that determines Sentiment from Social Data is one example of the work of Artificial Intelligence Specialists.
  • Data Scientists / Big Data Analyst: analyzes and interprets complex digital data, such as the usage statistics of a website, especially in order to assist a business in its decision-making.
  • Database Engineer: responsible for building and maintaining the software infrastructure that enables computation over large data sets.

As our enterprise systems continue to produce volumes of data, we need to make smart decisions faster to drive the business forward. Does your current team have the ‘Right Stuff’ to embrace advanced analytics? What new roles do you need in your supply chain team? How should your team be organized to efficiently run the business while also driving innovation? Are your current supply chain systems sufficient to leverage new data sources and enable advanced analytics? Can you automate routine activities? These are just a few of the questions you should ask as you embrace all that analytics has to offer to keep your supply chain team engaged in value-creating activities.

Related Content:

About the Author:

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Henry Canitz is The Product Marketing & Business DevelopmentDirector at Logility. To read more of Henry’s insights visit www.logility.com/blog.

Big Data – Is Your Supply Chain Ready?

You receive a notification on your phone that a critical shipment from your China factory has missed its filing deadline with the customs broker.

Your logistics manager is alerted that there is an 80% chance that the components he’s waiting for are likely to be delayed another 48 hours by excessive port traffic and your GTM software advises diverting the shipment to an alternate port facility.

Your compliance officer is informed that there is a 95% chance that a shipment of parts from Malaysia is likely to be held for up to three days to be subjected to a detailed customs inspection.

If you think this type of information would be of great assistance to your supply chain business planning and operations, you are not alone. It is this type of integrated data and communications that are becoming the backbone of the Big Data led revolution underway in the supply chain.

The human brain can only process and make use of a limited amount of information before it becomes overwhelmed and unable to effectively recognise patterns and trends. But powerful algorithms and the software platforms they drive can take in almost unlimited numbers of data points and process them to generate insights impossible for an individual or even an entire organisation of individuals to identify. And powering this technology-driven transformation of the supply chain is Big Data.

Big Data vs Small Data

To really understand how technology is transforming supply chain, it is important to understand how Big Data differs from any other form of information gathering. Data has always been crucial to efficient supply chain operations so what has actually changed in recent years? How is “Big Data” different from the analysis of “small data” that has always occurred in the industry?

Big Data refers to sets of both structured and unstructured data with so much volume that traditional data processing systems are inadequate to cope with it all. It can be further defined by some of the basic properties that apply to it:

Variety – data being generated from a wide number of varied sources

Volume – while there is no set distinction between where small data stops and Big Data starts, Big Data requires large storage requirements for the data, often measured in many multiples of terabytes

Velocity – the speed at which the data can be acquired, transferred and stored

Complexity – difficulties encountered in forming relevant relationships in data, especially when it is taken from multiple sources

Value – the degree to which querying the data will result in generating beneficial outcomes

The most important property related to Big Data is as the name implies, volume. We normally think of data purely in terms of text or numbers but it can include everything from the billions of emails, images, and tweets generated every day.

In fact, data generation is expanding at a rate that doubles every two years. And human and machine-generated data is growing at 10 times the rate of traditional business data.

IT World Canada projects that by 2020, you would need a stack of iPad Air tablets extending from the earth to the moon to store the world’s digital data.

But the real focus behind a preference for Big Data analysis over small data systems is the ability to uncover hidden trends and relationships in both structured and unstructured data. In most cases, using small data collection and analytics processes simply cannot identify crucial information in a timely manner to allow key decisions to be made or opportunities to be taken advantage of. In other cases, using small data systems is simply a waste of resources and leads to disruptions to supply chain operations.

By contrast, if used correctly Big Data is the key to enhancing supply chain performance by increasing visibility, control, agility, and responsiveness. Making decisions based on high-quality information in context can benefit the full range of supply chain operations – from demand forecasting, inventory and logistics planning, execution, shipping, and warehouse management.

Big Data possibilities

Big Data analytics becomes a vital tool for making sense of the huge volumes of data that are produced every day. This data comes from a whole range of activities undertaken by people associated with supply chain, whether they be customers, suppliers, or your own staff. The range and volume of this data are continuously increasing, with billions of data points generated by sources we see as directly linked to supply chain such as network nodes and transaction and shipping records as well as other areas that more indirectly impact supply chains such as retail channels and social media content.

But it is increasingly becoming necessary to harness this data in order to remain competitive. This is evident from statements such as the below:

“Big Data is certainly enabling better decisions and actions, and facilitating a move away from gut feel decision making.” -Anthony Coops, Asia Pacific Data & Analytics Leader, KPMG Australia

At the same time, he recognises that solutions need to be put in place that allows for people and organisations to have complete faith in the data so that managers can really trust in the analytics and be confident in their decision making.

The need for confidence in the analytics is evident when considering the examples such as where GTM software has the information and capabilities to advise ahead of time to divert shipping stock to an alternate port or that a product is likely to be held up in customs. These types of decisions have potentially large financial consequences but when implemented correctly, it is easy to see how supply chain operational efficiency can be significantly boosted by effective use of Big Data analytics.

Many organisations are also using Big Data solutions to support integrated business planning and to better understand market trends and consumer behaviours. The integration of a range of market, product sales, social media trends, and demographic data from multiple data sources provides the capability to accurately predict and plan numerous supply chain actions.

IoT and AI-based analytics are used to predict asset maintenance requirements and avoid unscheduled downtime. IoT can also provide real-time production and shipping data while GPS driven data combined with traffic and weather information allows for dynamically planned and optimised shipping and delivery routes. These types of examples provide a glimpse into the possibilities and advantages that Big Data can offer in increasing the agility and efficiency of supply chain operations.

Disruptive technologies

What is driving these possibilities is the development of numerous disruptive technologies as well as the integration of both new and existing technologies to create high-quality networks of information. Disruptive technologies impact the way organisations operate by forcing them to deal with new competitive platforms. They also provide them with opportunities to enter new markets or to change the company’s competitive status.

By identifying key disruptive technologies early, supply chain organisations can not only be better placed to adapt to changing market conditions, they can also gain a distinct advantage over others in the industry that are reluctant to embrace change.

In terms of Big Data based disruptive technologies, these are largely driven by the effects of constantly evolving and emergent internet technologies such as the Internet of Things combined with increased computing power, AI and machine learning based analytics platforms, and fast, pervasive digital communications. These technologies then act as drivers that spawn new ways of managing products, assets, and staff as well as generating new ways of thinking about organisational structures and workflows.

IoT

After being talked about for many years, we are now starting to see the Internet of Things really taking shape. There will be a thirty-fold increase in the number of Internet-connected physical devices by 2020 and this will significantly impact the ways that supply chains operate.

IoT allows for numerous solutions to intelligently connect systems, people, processes, data, and devices via a network of connected sensors. Through improved data collection and intelligence, the supply chain will benefit from greater automation of the manufacturing and shipping process becomes possible through enhanced visibility of activities from the warehouse to the customer.

Cloud-based GPS and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies, which provide location, product identification and other tracking information play a key role in the IoT landscape. Sensors can be used to provide a wealth of information targeted to specific niches within supply chain such as fresh produce distribution where temperature or humidity levels can be precisely tracked along the entire journey of a product. Data gathered from GPS and RFID technologies also facilitates automated shipping and delivery processes by precisely predicting the time of arrival.

Big Data analytics

Big Data analytics encompasses the qualitative and quantitative techniques that are used to generate insights to enhance productivity. The more supply chain technologies are reliant on Big Data, either in their business model or as a result of their impact on an organisation, the more organisations have to rely on the effective use of Big Data analytics to help them make sense of the volumes of data being generated. Analytics also helps to make it possible to understand the processes and strategies used by competitors across the industry. Using analytics effectively allows an organisation to make the best decisions to ensure they stay at the forefront of their particular market sector.

As corporations face financial pressures to increase profit margins and customer expectation pressures to shorten delivery times. the importance of Big Data analytics continues to grow. A Gartner, Inc. study put the 2017 business intelligence and analytics market at a value over USD$18 billion, while the sales of prescriptive analytics software is estimated to grow from approximately USD$415 million in 2014 to USD$1.1 billion in 2019.

Over time, the effectiveness and capabilities of analytics software also continue to improve as machine learning-based technologies take forecast data and continually compare it back to real operational and production data. This means that the longer an organisation operates its analytics software, the iterative nature of artificial intelligence powered algorithms means that the performance and value of the software improve over time. This leads to benefits such as more accurate forecasts of shipping times or supplier obstacles and bottlenecks.

Consumer Behaviour Analysis

Although it may not initially seem as vital to supply chain as other disruptive technologies, consumer behaviour analysis can have a huge impact on businesses working in supply chain, especially e-commerce businesses. Known as clickstream analysis, large amounts of company, industry, product, and customer information can be gathered from the web. Various text and web mining tools and techniques are then used to both organise and visualise this information.

By analysing customer clickstream data logs, web analytics tools such as Google Analytics can provide a trail of online customer activities and provide insights on their purchasing patterns. This allows more accurate seasonal forecasts to be generated that can then drive inventory and resourcing plans. This type of data is extremely valuable and is crucial for any organisations operating in the e-commerce space. While retailers and consumer companies have always collected data on buying patterns, the ability to pull together information from potentially thousands of different variables that have traditionally been collected in silos provides enormous economic opportunities.

Potential drawbacks and challenges

Despite the huge opportunities presented by implementing Big Data powered solutions, there can be intimidating barriers to entry when it comes to putting in place Big Data collection and analytics solutions. This can emerge across a range of areas including the complexities around data collection and the difficulties of putting in place the technologies and infrastructure needed to turn that data into useful insights.

Getting complete buy-in

One impediment to adopting a holistic Big Data approach centres around having unified support at all levels of your company to adopt comprehensive Big Data systems. Management commitment and support is crucial and large-scale initiatives of this type usually occur from the top down. However, Big Data analytics type initiatives usually originate at mid-level, from people who actually collect and use data day to day. This means that for this issue, the need for implementation must often be sold upwards. In some cases, upselling the importance of Big Data to management that doesn’t understand why that type of expense is necessary is extremely challenging.

Sourcing clean data

One of the other main challenges is undoubtedly sourcing appropriate and consistent data. There’s no use getting high-quality data if it doesn’t directly apply to your particular market sector. Nor is there much benefit to be gained from obtaining high-quality data but being unable to consistently source it at the same regularity to enable it to build a long-term profile of the company’s operations and market forces. These challenges are often related to technical issues such as integration with previously siloed data or data security concerns.

Richard Sharpe, CEO of Competitive Insights, a supply chain analytics company, believes that the data quality problem is a complex issue that can have many different causes. However, he believes that these challenges can be overcome by management having a clear understanding of what they’re trying to achieve. “You have to show that what you’re ultimately trying to do with supply chain data analytics is to make the enterprise more successful and profitable.” This then leads to support being provided by company leadership who, in tandem with operations managers, can develop the processes required to govern quality data collection. This includes proper consultation with subject matter experts who can help ensure that all data is properly validated.

Managing data volumes

New technologies make it possible for supply chain organisations to collect huge volumes of information from an ever-expanding number of sources. These data points can quickly run into the billions, making it challenging to analyse with any level of accuracy or lead directly to innovation and improvement.

This means that despite many organisations embracing Big Data strategies, many do not actually derive sustainable value from the data they’re accumulating because they begin to drown in the sheer volume of data or don’t have the appropriate software and management tools to make use of it. A common phrase used to summarise this effect is “paralysis by analysis”. Without a thorough understanding of the technologies and systems needed to process and store the data collected, this can be an easy condition for an organisation to become afflicted by.

Building the infrastructure

Companies need to invest in the right technologies to have a true 360-degree view of their business. And in many cases, these technologies can involve large initial capital outlays. Getting the infrastructure in place is key to being able to collect, process, and analyse data that enables you to track inventory, assets and materials in your supply chain.

Putting in place the infrastructure may also require additional training expenses, so that staff are properly trained in how to use new software platforms or to maintain sensors and other new IoT devices. In some cases, this will extend to requiring hiring new talent capable of using and interpreting new analytical tools.

Conclusion

Big Data offers huge opportunities to supply chain organisations, as vital information contained within multiple data sources can now be consolidated and analysed. These new perspectives can reveal the insights necessary to understand and solve problems that were previously considered too complex. New insights can also encourage organisations to scale intelligent systems across all activities in the supply chain, embedding intelligence in every part of the business.

There is also no doubt that implementing comprehensive Big Data solutions can involve new and significant challenges. However, once the new infrastructure and processes are in place, the nature of modern Cloud-based networks allows for data to be accessed easily from anywhere at any time. It also allows for other benefits beyond cost reduction and production gains to be realised over time, such as ongoing rather than just one-off efficiency gains and improved transparency and compliance tracking across the entire organisation.

See original blog here

 

About the Author

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Bastian Managing Director, Tony Richter, is a supply chain industry expert with 7+ years executing senior supply chain search across APAC. He works exclusively with a small portfolio of clients and prides himself on the creation of a transparent, credible, and focused approach. This ensures long-term trust can be established with all clients and candidates.

To find out more about the challenges and opportunities offered by Big Data to supply chain, or to gain a deeper understanding of the technology and Big Data trends currently underway in the industry, talk to an industry expert at http://bconsult.io/