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” …

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 …

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 …

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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 …

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 …

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 …

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), …

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 …

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. …

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 …