Tag Archive: big data

Blockchain, IoT, AI, Big Data. Will Anything Stick?

November 11th, 2019

Client Question
Should I really invest time and resources into technologies I don’t know will pay back?

For example, there is a lot of conversation about the value (or lack thereof) of blockchain, IoT, AI and more. This concern continues to arise and is on every executive’s mind. They do not want to be left in the dust “holding the bag” (old and slow) while their competitors race by. On the other hand, they do not want to dump all sorts of money into technology that might not prove effective in their industry. And, in some cases, what they could invest would be a drop in the bucket. It would be like trying to refill the Pacific Ocean with a pail. Remember that fabulous song by Harry Belafonte “There’s a Hole in the Bucket“?

My colleague Diane Garcia and I set out to find the latest answer to this question at the Association for Supply Chain Management International Conference. There were several panels and presentations on each of these topics, along with several exhibitors talking about the latest and greatest technology integrations.

The Answer
Undoubtedly, there is a lot of noise about these technologies. According to Gartner, AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value and recover $6.2 billion hours of work productivity. So, it is easy to see why AI is gaining investment with the large companies and with leaders of large organizations.

I love this quote from Harvard Business Review, “Over the next decade, AI won’t replace managers, but managers who use AI will replace those who don’t.” That about sums it up! We need to at least be aware so that we can make good decisions when it comes to these technologies.

As it relates to AI, according to McKinsey Quarterly, across all functions, respondents report that the most significant benefits come from adopting AI in manufacturing! Coming in second is risk with supply chain management just behind in third place. So, if you are in manufacturing, you cannot afford not to at least consider the opportunities. Do you need to do this on your own? NO! We are seeing small companies come together to share resources and invest jointly to drive scale with results (and so they can compete with the large companies). There are also groups that facilitate this type of collaboration. At the most digitized companies, the adoption of AI capabilities is greater including machine learning, virtual agents, robotic process automation, computer vision and more.

According to Forrester, 90% plan greater investments in data and according to MIT Sloan, 85% view AI as a strategic priority. These two technologies cross over and seem to have the upper hand with the most immediately applicable technology.

With that said, there were even more sessions about blockchain and whether it was hype or hope. The bottom line on blockchain is that it is a real opportunity for certain industries such as the food industry (related to food safety).  It is still in early stages and will require a consortium of companies to come together to bring to reality.

According to a leader from FedEx, whether big or small, no one company will be successful on its own. Yet all the “big guys” are interested and participating. Stay tuned to see where it goes. Last but not least, IoT is integrated into many conversations about big data, AI, autonomous vehicles and more because it connects technologies. In manufacturing, IoT is connecting machines and data for predictive maintenance and the possibilities abound.

The bottom line: pay attention but resist exploring technology in isolation. Learn to collaborate.

Food For Thought
As much as these technologies should be on your radar, don’t get carried away and forget your fundamentals.

Do you have a scalable ERP system to support your business growth and profitability? If not, start there!

Do you have reporting and business intelligence systems so that you can slice and dice information to make instantaneous, informed decisions as key customer questions or business opportunities arise? If not, start there!

How about a simple CRM solution? Certainly in the Amazon Effect era, we must pay attention to customers.

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What is Ahead for Technology?
AI, Robots, IoT, Blockchain, Hike!
Systems Pragmatist



Data, Data, Data

May 17th, 2016
how do connect data

Many manufacturers and distributors focus on collecting data rather than using it to analyze performance and achieve business results.

“Data, data, data” seems to be the hot topic for manufacturers and distributors, similarly to “location, location, location” in real estate success. What is going on?

As technologies have come a long way from the “old” days, we have massive amounts of data I heard this statistic last week – 1 gigabyte cost $1 million in 1980 whereas it costs 1 cent today. Clearly, it’s affordable and accessible. Now what do we do with it?

Here are some options my best clients have been researching:

  1. Dashboards: Get the “right” ERP system for your needs and display key metrics on a dashboard. We want to be able to slice and dice information to rapidly get to what we want when we want it — in a nice, visually pleasing format.
  2. Demand data is gold: Undoubtedly, my best clients use demand data from their supply chain to outperform their competitors — and sometimes to collaborate with competitors for win-win outcomes. A forecast is better than guesswork but actual consumption information from your customer trumps all.
  3. Big data: There is more hype over this than anything else; however, since there is a ton of it available these days, those executives who figure out how to make good use of this information will succeed.
  4. Connections with data: The internet of things is spurring new uses of information. How do we connect data from our fit monitors, alarm systems, appliances, etc. in a meaningful and useful way?
  5. RFID & Barcoding: Although these can be considered “old school”, they are also solid tools that can provide tangible benefits in the right situation.

Don’t just collect data to collect data. It might be similar to being a hoarder. Although it can be stored on tiny devices, the key is not to collect it but to USE it to achieve business results. If you’d like to talk further about how to do that for your company, contact us.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

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The Power of BI (Business Intelligence)

March 16th, 2016

supply chainIn today’s Amazon-impacted world, if you cannot make rapid yet effective decisions, you’ll be left in the dust. It is no longer acceptable to wait for IT to write a report in order to make a decision. Executives must have the “right” information at their fingertips to guide their companies to success. Does your company have this capability?

I find that it is often called BI (business intelligence). Sometimes it is called dashboard reporting. Certainly those executives who have access to a dashboard with graphics and capabilities to slice and dice information in order to make decisions have an edge. Less often, it can be referred to as navigating “big data”. It can also be plain vanilla reporting — so long as the information needed is available, it doesn’t matter what technology or manual process is going on in the background! With that said, every ERP selection project participant requests information at their fingertips literally — on an iPhone, Samsung or iPad.

One tip to implement this week:

You might think implementing BI is the way to go. Although it can be part of your solution, it is extremely unlikely to occur in a week. So, how could we make progress this week? Identify your requirements.

Start simply by looking at your business, your function or your day-to-day job. What information do you need to make effective decisions? Start to think about what is needed to make those decisions and document your requirements. I guarantee it will be more than half the battle to know what you need! You’ll then have a far easier time translating those into BI reports rapidly.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

 



7 Hot ERP Systems Trends

January 13th, 2014
Stay on top of hot ERP system trends to stay ahead of the competition.

Stay on top of hot ERP system trends to stay ahead of the competition.

Those who make a concerted effort to identify and leverage emerging trends outperform their counterparts. As I want to make sure my clients are at the forefront of this path, I pay attention to emerging trends among my best clients.

Anytime I’ve seen a common thread among the best, it has signaled a noteworthy change.

I’ve noticed that although executives are not completely comfortable with the current new normal business environment (as who knows what taxes, health care impacts or other items will be thrown into the mix tomorrow), they are starting to think about investing in select projects again – ones with a substantial return on investment and/or required to support their long-term strategy.

Thus, ERP system upgrades and new implementations are on the rise. Therefore, why not get ahead of the curve and think about the hot ERP trends. The top ones that pop to mind include: 1) The Amazon effect. 2) ERP in the Cloud. 3) Big data. 4) CRM. 5) Flexibility. 6) Mobility. 7) ERP for small business.

  1. The Amazon effect: Amazon has been making a splash everywhere you turn. There are distribution centers within a short proximity to key markets. Sunday deliveries. Reinvented publishing.  The bottom line is that customers expect 24/7 access and quicker delivery with exceptional service, and you must figure out how to make it happen! Thus, e-commerce is no longer a “nice-to-have”; instead, it is a “must-have” in your ERP system. Your customers will want to order, understand their order status and provide feedback at any time, any day of the week.
  2. ERP in the Cloud: People are becoming more comfortable with the idea of ERP in the cloud. There is less complexity, less work, less skills and often times less cost required while accessibility is increased and your ability to recover from a disaster is improved. The “big guys” like SAP and Oracle are going down this path and so they are seeing enough advantage to invest.
  3. Big data: Although big data is “old news,” it remains “new news” in terms of implementation and utilization. We are living in an information overloaded society, and so concepts like big data will be essential in making sense of it all. Business intelligence can be utilized to better understand customer trends and how to optimize inventory and margins – who wouldn’t consider this approach?
  4.  CRM: Since I’ve always focused part of my practice on ERP as it’s an essential tool for manufacturers and distributors, and I have a unique skill of zeroing in on connection points (which is cornerstone in selecting, designing and implementing systems), I’ve noticed that a particular connection point has arisen as a key contributor to bottom line business results – CRM (customer relationship management) functionality.  You must start with the customer to succeed; thus, better understanding your customer relationships is a great place to start (CRM).
  5. Flexibility: Old (often called legacy) systems are rarely flexible. To succeed in the fast pace of the new normal business environment, you must be flexible. Those who can introduce new products rapidly, adjust capacity rapidly, change items on the fly etc. will thrive. Your ERP system is the backbone.
  6. Mobility: Do you know anyone who doesn’t have a cell phone? Even my parents cannot remember how they survived without a cell phone. They don’t keep track of appointments, look up directions and utilize advanced functionality but they understand that it exists – and so they utilize their resources in those situations (call their kids). Being connected 24/7 requires mobility. It should be fundamental to your ERP system.
  7. ERP for Small Business: ERP is no longer just for medium to large size companies. In my recent experience with ERP selection projects, the cost is minimal vs. the automation and speed advantages it will provide to even a small business. Do customers care if you are small or big when they want an order status at 8 pm on a Sunday?

Of course, understanding these trends is a great first step; however, it is useless unless you put together a plan of action on what is noteworthy for your company and your situation. What will you do differently tomorrow? Many of the best inventions were invented by someone else long before the known inventor; however, they did not act upon the goldmine.

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Leverage Your ERP System for Bottom Line Business Results
ERP Fact Sheet – downloadable PDF



Emerging Supply Chain Trends

September 12th, 2013

Stay on top of trends to stand out from the crowd.

Those executives who stay on top of the latest trends and search for patterns and trends in their business are far more successful than their counterparts. In my 20+ years of experience across multiple industries and globally, I’ve seen the value of being on the edge of identifying and leveraging trends.

This is especially valuable if you are able to look across organizations inclusive of types and sizes – if you see something in common, you’re likely to have a gem!

Now the question is how to leverage these trends. Identifying is useless without the ability to put it to good use. So, let’s look at the latest supply chain trends keeping execution in mind:

1. Collaboration: You can no longer be successful if you aren’t focused on how to expand and add depth to your collaboration efforts. Do you partner with suppliers or pound them over the head about price? Do you find ways to collaborate with your customers to get a better handle on demand data? If so, you’ll have superior service and cash flow. S&OP is one vehicle to consider.

2. Innovation: It is no longer acceptable to be an exceptional implementer; instead, you must innovate to stand out in the crowd. How can you elevate customer service while reducing cost and increasing profit? Doing what you used to do better will not cut it! You must innovate.

3. Risk Management: What could be more important in today’s new normal global business environment? Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Political conflicts. Strikes. Currency swings. Are you prepared? How agile is your supply chain? Customers will still expect on-time deliveries of the highest quality!

4. Sustainability: What started as a way to improve the company image and address regulatory concerns is emerging as a competitive advantage. It’s starting to offer profit improvement – the triple bottom line is here to stay. How can we be green “and” increase profits? It doesn’t hurt if you circle back to innovation… You’d be surprised what you can achieve – even areas like packaging can be ripe with opportunity.

5. Big Data: As we are increasingly living in an information overloaded society, we must find ways to sift through the data to find what will matter. How do we glean intelligence from it and translate it into business advantage? It is no longer limited to a techie topic; those who leverage big data to drive results will sustain a competitive advantage.

Assuming you jump on these trends, the only potential roadblock is your people. It is becoming increasingly paramount – and difficult – to find exceptional supply chain talent. Make sure your company stands out in the crowd and values supply chain talent, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving success.

Think about how these trends impact your business. Since my brothers used to be heavily involved in ice hockey, one of my favorite analogies becomes applicable here: How can you skate to where the puck is going instead of skating to where it is?