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 #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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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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), …

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/)

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 …