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 #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 …

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 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 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 …

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 …

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), …

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 …