Author Archives: Chris Gordon
AIMMS has been active in the supply chain space for over 28 years. We’ve seen the evolution of the industry and its ongoing transformation, and have embarked on a transformation ourselves. The skills of the past are no longer sufficient to meet the demands of today’s complex, fast-moving digital environment, or prepare for the future. There is also a talent shortage. As the most experienced supply chain professionals retire, CSCMP estimates that as many as 3.5 million positions may go unfilled by 2020. The competition for talent is tough, as “demand for supply chain professionals is estimated to exceed supply by a ratio of six to one.” Here are three things you can do to attract and leverage talent for the digital supply chain.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, finance chiefs are cutting back on Excel because it hasn’t “kept up with the demands of contemporary corporate finance units.” “I don’t want financial planning people spending their time importing and exporting and manipulating data, I want them to focus on what is the data telling us” – Adobe Inc.’s finance chief Mark Garrett tells WSJ journalist Tatyana Shumsky. This mood prevails among supply chain executives as well.
Spreadsheets still dominate planning in the supply chain. We recently commissioned Supply Chain Insights to conduct independent research on supply chain network design, and 65% of the companies surveyed are reportedly using spreadsheets to support this process. Spreadsheets are familiar, inexpensive and convenient. But they pose serious setbacks for organizations:
- They are practically never integrated with other systems
- They are not updated automatically
- The logic behind them is often only clear to those who create them and often dies when somebody leaves, making collaboration difficult
- Analyses are often slow given that you can only work with a certain amount of data
- Version control is hard
Perhaps most importantly, spreadsheets are error prone. In fact, as Market Watch reports, close to 90% of spreadsheet documents contain errors. Even after careful development, spreadsheets “contain errors in 1% or more of all formula cells.” In large spreadsheets with thousands of formulas, there are often dozens of undetected errors.
The next frontier: supply chain data architecture for your needs, not to feed the needs of numerous supply chain tech vendorsPosted on October 18, 2017 by Chris GordonLeave a reply
Data overload and quality issues are common problems faced by all organizations. This makes it really difficult to start getting value out of data with analytics. Inevitably, when you buy supply chain optimization software, you need to start hunting around for data to make the technology work – it can feel like you work for the technology vendor, not the other way around. That’s why 60% of the time spent in analytical supply chain projects is spent collecting data. The focus is on making the data work for the technology, rather than tackling your business need.
But today’s SC leaders don’t have weeks or months to solve pressing problems and the worse thing is, it doesn’t necessarily get easier once you’ve been through your first solution implementation. You may have deployed an out of the box Network Design solution. Implementing an Inventory Optimization App will take another tedious data integration process. In a supply chain context, that means it will take months before you can actually start improving margins, availability and service levels. To work proactively with analytics and truly embed them in your organization, data needs to be structured smarter and accessed for many needs.
Something struck me after spending a few days in Phoenix at Gartner’s Supply Chain Executive Conference. Supply Chain Network Optimization is key to running an efficient and profitable operation today. But while the market has changed, network optimization hasn’t actually advanced much since the 1990s. Yes, there are lots more features and a big increase in computing power. Yet, network optimization is still just a richer version of the 90’s experience.
Analyzing the software market
Network optimization software has become a big business that’s experienced exponential growth. There has been strong adoption of boxed solutions that are feature rich with many bells and whistles. What I heard at the Gartner conference is growing frustration with these large packages that have become cumbersome to use, too difficult for the average supply chain expert, lack flexibility and have high price tags. Sound familiar?
So what is the alternative? First, we need to go back to the original purpose. Supply Chain teams shouldn’t be overly focused on technology. Instead, they should have their eyes set on the desired outcome. Supply Chain teams want a supply chain network that runs in an optimized fashion, with signals that indicate when and where to invest in future infrastructure. The network optimization tool should just be a means to an end.
So why hasn’t it become easier and cheaper to have an optimized network? Why are companies investing more and more in this focused discipline?
Internet of Things (IOT), Cost-to-Serve, Segmentation and Supply Chain CoEs are unable to deliver promised business value without Prescriptive AnalyticsPosted on November 08, 2016 by Chris GordonLeave a reply
Gartner’s Hype Cycle for CSCOs is a valuable read for current and potential Supply Chain leaders. It brings together a long list of trends, enabling technologies, business frameworks and competencies that should be in your consideration set. The big theme of course, is the digitization of the supply chain and the implications it will have on business performance. What seems very clear is that if you’re not planning to jump aboard this train very quickly, you’re going to have what will appear to be a stone-age supply chain within 5-10 years.
As a Gartner recognized Prescriptive Analytics software company, we’re most interested in all things digital that have analytical flavor by nature. We see our clients deliver strong value from digital innovation, but only when organizations have the knowledge and technology to do things differently. This requires Prescriptive Analytics, a type of advanced analytics that results in a recommended ACTION.
In other words, for digital transformation to succeed, organizations need to be able to “take action” based on their data. Let’s take a look at some of the competencies mentioned in Gartner’s report so I can provide evidence to back up this outrageous statement.
In a time when the term ‘disruptive’ is being over-used I find myself increasingly using the term when describing the impact of our product to clients and prospects.
It’s uncomfortable because prior to starting with AIMMS two years ago, I spent 20 years in consulting and IT services and experienced many terms being over-used (such as ‘optimized’ or ‘disruptive’). I promised myself that I’d endeavor to never use a meaningful term in a superficial way.
It comes as no surprise that business and supply chain leaders are seeking new approaches to get ahead in the analytics age. Implementing an analytics strategy, and in particular implementing prescriptive analytics, can significantly improve revenues and drive down costs. How can you ensure that your team is prepared to embrace these new technologies and approaches? Experience shows us that technology is the easy part. Getting buy-in agreement and changing your company culture to embrace analytics is often more difficult. A Center of Excellence (COE) can help you start off with the right team structure, engage the right stakeholders and put you on the right path to implementation.
‘‘I want highly automated systems, a value chain network that optimizes my service and costs, the best talent available and the necessary predictability so that I can smartly invest in physical infrastructure.’’
It’s becoming clear that supply chain executives aren’t going to get all that they want. Traditionally it takes at the very least 2 years to realize investments in technology and physical infrastructure. Consider that 2 years ago oil was trading at more than twice the current rate, China wage rates were 20% less than today and 40% of supply chain talent with deep analytical expertise was paid by a different employer.
This month, I had the pleasure of attending Gartner’s Supply Chain Executive Conference in Phoenix. The theme of the event was “The Art of Supply Chain: Creative Solutions for the Next Generation.” Its agenda included over 60 sessions covering the full spectrum of supply chain—from strategy and planning to distribution and logistics. In almost every way this is a large and very professionally run conference with over 1500 attendees, everything you would expect from a Gartner event. In this post, I will summarize some of my favorite takeaways from the conference.
Is there a compelling reason to implement analytics & optimization? STEP 1 – Prove the bridge is on firePosted on February 02, 2015 by Chris GordonLeave a reply
A European department store, very well-known and led by one of the most iconic figures in the retail industry was undergoing a major shift. The business had recently pivoted towards a younger, more frequent buyer with the emphasis on dynamic, on-trend fashion.
Retail analytics are typically fruitful due to the availability of granular EPOS sales data and the ability to predict how products will move through their lifecycle due to the differing levels of fashion maturity in each geography. There was serious talent on the team with one guy in particular, Stefan, able to analyze data in ways that consistently blew people away.