Once again the inevitable is happening, our journey around the sun has almost come full circle. 2014 was an interesting year – of course for us soccer fans it was extra exciting with a World Cup, but I digress. As we head towards 2015 here are some wishes I have for our supply chains far and wide:
- Better and more actionable data: Raise your hand if you are sick of hearing about big data…okay you can all put your hands down. This is not about the continued deluge of data, we all know that we are flush with data and with new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) will only add to this wave of information. What we need to focus on, and achieve for our supply chains is more business data. Business data is the actionable information we can absorb, make a decision with and discard. Many of the CxOs I have spoken to this year, have pointed out that they know the information is out there, the
issue they have is to identify and focus on the business data that their organizations can better leverage. This is no small task. It is easier to hoard mountains and mountains of data as opposed to be smart about which data to focus on and which pieces of information to lean on. Offerings from the likes of Cisco with their intercloud product provides a layer of intelligence to all that information flowing across our networks. Of course the need to do a better job of filtering and identifying that business information is vital…especially as “big data” only gets bigger. In 2015 let us hope that we become smarter about the types of data we lean on to be better with our supply chains – no easy task.
- Continued harmonization of execution systems: The need to integrate WMS and TMS seems like a no-brainer, yet remains surprising that in many instances the systems have themselves remained in silos. It is telling that a supply chain vendor such as JDA only acquired a robust WMS solution when they merged with Red Prairie. But as more companies that are in the execution space look to not only add functionality but ensure full integration – even mega vendors like Oracle are working to add functionality such as yard management to their execution suite – one can hope that 2015 sees more of these strategic moves. The value for the end users is to have a faster and deeper visibility into the end to end execution process. For this reason, let us also hope that focused manufacturing service providers such as QAD and Plex also push out from within the factory four walls to include greater services in transportation and warehousing. Being able to monitor my entire execution process is the only way to start to eliminate the blind spots that constantly haunt our supply chains.
- Smarter evolution of SMAC within all aspects of supply chain: What is SMAC? It isn’t what you talk on the basketball court. SMAC – Social Mobile Analytics Cloud. I look for a greater focus on the first two letters of SMAC for 2015. When it comes to analytics, supply chains have been working on ensuring we add greater layers of analytics and intelligence to our processes. This will only continue to be vital as we add…more data. As for the cloud, it continues to be an area of much debate for supply chains. By some studies, there remains a lot of skepticism when it comes to the cloud. And I understand why. It isn’t because the cloud is not a viable delivery mechanism for the tools and solutions we need to manage our supply chains, rather the business value has not been properly expressed. I am looking at you marketing and sales departments. Too often we lead with the lower total cost of ownership (TCO) or the ability to
have access to the latest version of the software, rather than discuss why these features of the cloud open up new business models for supply chains. Smart vendors in 2015 will hone in on the business models the cloud empowers – not just lower TCO. But where 2015 holds more promise is with the social and mobile aspects of supply chain. Almost half of supply chain executives agree that social will play a vital role in their business, however less than 20% have any active strategy with social. I expect to see more partnerships such as the one between IBM and Twitter – to bring to the market solutions that these supply chain CxOs can lean on to take advantage of the nuggets that are in social. Finally 2015 will continue to see the importance of mobile in the supply chain. We already have witnessed how tablets and handhelds have impacted the factory floor, logistics, warehousing and within the store. But this is only the beginning. Smarter and more powerful devices will allow us to push decision making and control to the edges of the network. How solution providers tackle this new found power will be integral to how supply chains evolve in 2015.
I don’t think these are too much to ask of our supply chain users and vendors. Next year is an exciting one for new solutions and the continued evolution of existing technologies. But don’t we say that every year??
Happy New Year to you and your loved ones. See you on the other side!