Competitive, Profitable, and In-Budget: Pricing Supply Chain Software

There is a science to pricing rooted in microeconomics and behavioral economics. Under a set of assumptions, people respond to pricing in logical, predictable ways. There is also a personal approach to pricing. If a seller knows the prospective buyer well enough, they may choose to contradict the logical methods in favor of a tailored approach. Even when pricing rigorously …

Utility-Scale SaaS: a Shift in the Enterprise Software Market

  Enterprise software has been experiencing a transition towards “cloud” models of various flavors over the last fifteen years. As technology vendors, buyers, and advisers this transition has involved an evolving sense of how and why to embrace cloud. In effect, the industry has been going through a protracted and decentralized conversation about the definition, benefits, and drawbacks of “cloudness” …

Bleeding Edge to Trailing Edge: Assessing Supply Chain Technology Readiness

Supply chain managers have a wealth of technology tools available to them, far more than they can deploy effectively. Therefore a good supply chain leader is also a selector of technologies. A major part of current supply chain managers’ attentions are in winnowing tech options and building together a bouquet of effective solutions that are multiplicative in impact when used …

Visibility Example #6: World as a Warehouse

Imagine a large supply chain, covering 15,000 workers operating in 12 languages and 24 countries. Every day, inventory in various stages of completeness and transit could be valued at over one billion US dollars. Losing even a fraction of those materials would represent enormous wastage. Even without outright loss, a delay or misdirection could cost valuable time during which customer …

Supply Chain Visibility Example #5: Benefiting from GPS

The web 2.0 catchphrase “mashup” refers to the ability to integrate heterogeneous data sources into a single, consistent, view for greater total value to the user. Mashups, both useful and dubious, are making their way into supply chain visibility toolsets in 2011. Today’s visibility example looks at a very simple and productive mashup between order data and GPS location devices …

Visibility Example #4: Lot vs. Serial Number Tracking

Although visibility technology is well beyond “track and trace” of imports, there are still emerging demands for this type of service. In this article we’re going to look at the mechanics behind a good track & trace functionality and then two special situations of increasing prominence: tracking lot numbers and tracking serial numbers. What is “track & trace” visibility? The …

Visibility Example #3: When and How to Capture Data

In 2010 a reader emailed with a question concerning how a visibility solution ought to handle certain data elements, both in terms of when they are captured in time and how they are captured. In answering that real-life question I went on to raise two guiding principles which ought to be behind our supply chain visibility initiatives. I call these …

Visibility Example #2: Save the Sale

This was the second of a series of articles I wrote in 2010 on real-life examples of where supply chain visibility is used. In all of them, the goal was to describe them so that they can be understood without an advanced knowledge of supply chain management. The Setup: A retailer or producer handling higher-margin items: fashion, electronics, etc. Multi-echelon inventory …

Supply Chain Visibility Example #1: Upstream Visibility for Retailers

Visibility Example #1: Upstream Shipments I’m posting here the first of an ongoing series of real-life examples of where supply chain visibility is used. In all of them, the goal is to describe them so that they can be understood without an advanced knowledge of supply chain management. The Setup: This example is probably the most common visibility application in the …

We Need to Talk: the Role of Dialogue in Future Information Exchanges

Supply chain visibility, when this article was written in late 2010, faced several serious challenges to implement. One of those challenges is the need to exchange data while ensuring a common meaning for the data elements. This is part of the visibility framework (see link here), which means any supply chain visibility practice must overcome this challenge. In the following …

Visibility on Visibility

The ROI Question Probably the most asked question about supply chin visibility is how it is defined, but then very quickly people want to know what is the visibility Return on Investment, or ROI.  My response would be that excellence in visibility should result in direct financial impacts (hopefully with a payback due to increased revenue, reduced expenses, or reduced …

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The Supply Chain of Digital Content

Standing in an elevator in Changi International Airport in 2011, I saw many business travelers reading the newspaper. But how did those newspapers get in their hands? As it happens, many of the newspapers may not be “paper” at all. They are digital content, served up to dedicated or general viewing devices. And since that form of newspaper was widely …

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The Hollow Enterprise and Supply Chain Visibility

Developments from the 1980’s onward have lead to increasingly hollow enterprises. That is to say, enterprises who effectively divest themselves of all secondary value-adding activities and even many primary ones and yet maintain control over the end-to-end process using arm’s length management. In-sourcing, outsourcing, and other forms of partnering have taken practices outside the organizational boundary and resulted in an …

The Coming Dominance of Information

The four processes underlying the visibility framework are information-managing steps. Each process increases either the quantity or value of information, until that information interrupts a decision to result in a different and better future for the supply chain. For this reason, supply chain visibility is often tied in our minds to supply chain technology or software. In their sleepless nights, supply chain …

Supply Chain Visibility Software Review: Panjiva

  This article from early 2010 provides a review of a (then newly emergent) supply chain visibility solution, called Panjiva. This is a software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution which focuses on global trade visibility for channels into the United States of America. I summarized what the solution is about, gave a user impression, and then used an early version of the visibility …

Supply Chain Visibility and the Capital Economy

In a previous article in 2010 I discussed how the hollowing of enterprises, and introduction of external firms into the supply chain’s value stream, created an emerging information economy within the supply chain. The term “information economy” simply means that information had a differing value to the supply chain members, and so could be bought or sold for a net …

Tailoring Supply Chain Visibility to Cooperative Term Length

In another post last month I mentioned that the supply chain is an information economy, where information is created, valued, and exchanged. In that blog post I also discussed the impact supply chain governance has on the information economy, particularly information asymmetry and value-sharing. Josh Bryan, an artificial intelligence researcher and long-time friend, had feedback on the post which prompted me to create …

What is Supply Chain Visibility

Hands-down, the most asked question about supply chain visibility is also the simplest: what is supply chain visibility? This short post tries to provide the answer to that question by providing a simple definition and addressing some Frequently Asked Questions. For beginners in this area, I’d also suggest checking out the supply chain visibility effectiveness framework blog post. The short …

Watson and the Case for AI Staffing

 Graphic from Raymond Kurzweil This article builds on some of my earlier posts which dived into the likely prominence of artificial intelligence in supply chain management (and visibility) in the future. Specifically, we’ll look at the 2010 performance of the IBM question-answering AI system called “Watson” and discuss what it portents for supply chain careers. Introducing “Watson” Last year, while …

Why Define Everything

One piece of feedback that I heard when starting this blog back in 2009 was that the articles in this site spend too much time defining concepts. At face value, it’s a fair critique and one I took seriously. In this post I look at why definitions in supply chain management are so often the focus of our energy, compared …

Supply Chain Visibility & Artificial Intelligence

As some of the other articles on the site have discussed, I feel that there is a coming dominance of information over the purely material-management aspects of supply chains. And, at other times, I’ve mentioned my belief that artificial intelligence will play a major role in the shift. In this article I’m highlighting specifics behind that belief. The distinguishing line …

From Peak Oil to Peak Child

As a supply chain manager I spent the majority of 2007 focused on fuel costs. In that year, crude oil rose from around $50 to $150. Direct oil consumers were hit hardest, and for me this particularly included a transport budget that was predicated on $50-per-barrel oil. That was a hard, sobering year. As the price of oil mounted, companies …

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The “Internet of Everything” Thing… Treat with Skepticism

Since around 2011 Cisco Systems and Gartner have been laying claim to a term “Internet of Everything” (IoE), fashioned as spin-off or upgrade to the “Internet of Things” (IoT). I would argue that we should be taking the IoT very seriously, and that the IoE is just marketing collateral with no real substance beyond driving billable consulting engagements to Gartner and …

Five Exercises in Long Term Thinking

Long term thinking is a skill of immense value, both in business and personal contexts. As a long term thinker, I am always interested in what could occur in the future, its consequence, and how that possibility can or should shape my present decision making. But how to think effective about the long term? In this article I will outline …

2014 is a special year for supply chain technology… or maybe not

This is a short article to address the over-hyping of tech changes in the field of supply chain management. Anyone who follows my other articles, my blog, or has spoken with me personally, knows that I’m an avid technologist. But, that said, its worth stepping back and thinking critically about how special the current phase of tech development & rollout …

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Ditch the Demo: Buying a Visibility Solution in the Blind

I have participated in at least twenty serious supply chain software system selection events, both as a buyer and seller. In every case the system demo was a critical part of the evaluation, and often weighed heavily on the final selection or the price paid for it. As a buyer, the deep-dive demo with my own data loaded in the …

Iron Fists and Supply Chain Utopias: Governance and Visibility

In 2010, at a UK conference on supply chain software, I heard an interesting reply to the often-used call for “greater collaboration” within the supply chain. The reply was from Eddie Capel, at the time the COO and head of products and engineering at Manhattan Associates. Eddie is a person I admire for his clarity of insight into supply chain …

Risk Management via Supply Chain Visibility

Supply chain visibility is often included in the risk management toolkit. By coupling process changes, the improved intelligence from supply chain visibility, and fast decision cycles, organizations hope to out-maneuver interruptions in the flow of material, capital, or information. In this article we’ll address visibility for risk management at three levels: what makes risk worth watching for (the business problem), …

Playing for Real: Supply Chain Games for Training

Supply chain games are a great way to develop new staff’s instincts about coordination, competition, and the cause-effects of rule mechanisms on behavior. The infamous Beer Game and Procurement Game were some of my first introductions to multi-party coordination through rules. In 2010, I was looking for more supply chain games and ended up creating or modifying some game-theory classics …

Other Blogs & Sites

My Favorite Blogs and Professional Organizations: Supply Chain Council (https://supply-chain.org/) Husdal on supply chain risk (http://www.husdal.com/#) Retail Systems Research (http://www.rsrresearch.com/) Supply Chain Asia (http://www.supplychainasia.org/) Supply Chain Management Blog (http://www.scmblog.com/) Logistics Viewpoints (http://logisticsviewpoints.com/) Talking Logistics (http://talkinglogistics.com/) Eye for Transport (http://www.eft.com/) Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (http://cscmp.org/) Supply Chain Shaman (http://www.supplychainshaman.com/)

Learning by Playing: More Supply Chain Games

In January 2011 I published an article called “Playing for Real: Supply Chain Games”. As I said in the original article, supply chain games are a great way to develop new staff’s instincts about coordination, competition, and the cause-effects of rule mechanisms on behavior.  In early 2012 I added the two additional games shown below for training supply chain instincts. …

Best Practices vs. Thought Leadership

One of the questions I had when deciding to start a supply chain visibility blog was whether it would cater more to thought leadership or best practices. In industry, we hear these two terms used together, if not synonymously then at least as partial alternatives. Below I try to define each one within the supply chain context and then discuss …

Strategy

A Framework for Visibility Effectiveness

This article, probably the longest one on the website, addresses four critical needs of anyone working with supply chain visibility. The first is to formalize how a visibility solution impacts the business. Second, how visibility impacts specific business decisions (i.e. along what dimensions will the solution deliver change and therefore value). Third, how to evaluate the fitness of a supply …

Jonah Saint McIntire

About this Blog & Jonah McIntire

  Thanks for visiting the blog. This page describes a little about the mission of the blog and how it is managed. Way back in 2009, on the verge of taking a new role that would require me to give companies advice on supply chain visibility, I decided to start a blog on the topic. My main goals at the …

A Busy and Productive Year

Those who followed my blog in 2013 would have noticed a sharp decline in article output. Like many other writers in the blogosphere my writing flow slipped under the pressure of all the other things happening in my life. For one thing, I was launching a new software business focused on tactical transport optimization and planning. But more distracting was …

System Stand-In Can Make or Break Supply Chain Visibility

System stand-in is a term I use frequently when describing why a particular supply chain visibility software does something that might be done by a separate system. For example, why would a visibility software offer the ability for new purchase or sales orders to be created over the web when those are obviously not visibility activities at all? The answer …