In today’s business environment, you can’t remain competitive without mastering analytics. Still, most companies are “not very far” when it comes to implementing analytics and garnering benefits from data, as a recent survey from CSCMP suggests. In many cases, organizations haven’t succeeded in making the organizational changes required to become data-driven. Not enough managers are fluent in the language of analytics. Leveraging analytics at scale is hard. As the graph below shows, lack of talent, investment in hardware/software and siloed data are among the most common challenges.
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.
An interview with Boon Edam’s Aron Waas
Implementing Sales and Operations Planning has many benefits. To truly leverage it to improve business performance and predictability, you need to embark on a change management process and you need the right technology to self-enable your team. Often, teams think they also need plenty of clean and accurate data to do it right. But starting small can pay off. We spoke with Aron Waas, Global Supply Chain Director at Royal Boon Edam International to hear about his company’s experience.
Hello Aron, can you tell me more about Boon Edam and your role as Global Supply Chain Director?
Boon Edam is a private, family-owned company that is over 140 years old. We are a manufacturer of premium entry systems, such as revolving doors and security access gates. We have 3 factories, one in USA, one in China and one in the Netherlands (in the city of Edam). We have over 20 sales subsidiaries and, at this stage, 3 different Distribution & Support Centers. These centers (or D&SCs) support our sales subsidiaries with all their inquiries, service requests and the delivery of products and services.
I am part of the global management team, responsible for everything that has to do with supply chain management. The directors of our D&SCs report directly to me.
Declining letter volumes and parcel competition are serious challenges faced by postal companies. Having a competitive supply chain is key to thrive, and survive, in this environment. How can postal companies make headway? The answer lies on changing culture as much as it does on rethinking technology.
Change should start with culture and organizational alignment
Global e-commerce growth and converging technologies are pushing postal companies to diversify their revenues and increase operational efficiency quickly. To support this change, many postal operators are modernizing their technology stack and relying increasingly on advanced analytics. UPS, for instance, has managed to save up $50 million a year in fuel, vehicle maintenance and time by optimizing vehicle routes with a big data model. The company has also won several awards for providing consumers with more control over deliveries using digital products.
The digital age has just begun. We haven’t seen the full force of disruptive business and operating models and there is no doubt that many more will keep emerging. We are only beginning to see the impact that digital transformation will have on our human resources as well. This will demand the creation of new and higher levels of personal development and organizational effectiveness to manage and sustain this culture transformation.
What are companies looking for in supply chain network design technologies? What works well, and what are the challenges? We commissioned Supply Chain Insights to conduct independent research about this topic and discussed the findings in a recent webinar. Today, we’re pleased to share a more extensive report on this topic. The report covers perceptions about supply chain network design (SCND) as a process and outlines the key benefits and barriers experienced by companies when using SCND technology. Let’s take a look at some of the key findings.
The next frontier: supply chain data architecture for your needs, not to feed the needs of numerous supply chain tech vendors
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.
Reflections following the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference in London
Last month, our team had the pleasure to attend Gartner’s Supply Chain Executive Conference in London, a growing event that we’re always thrilled to participate in. This time, the event hosted 15% more visitors and took place at the Intercontinental O2 hotel. For us, it was a special occasion because we had the opportunity to give the event’s audience a preview of AIMMS SC Navigator – our new analytics solution for supply chain teams. It was also a great venue to re-connect with existing customers and meet Gartner analysts, who gave us valuable feedback on our product. The event’s theme was ACT – Aspire-Challenge-Transform in a disruptive world, a call to action to recognize the impact of disruptions and define a digital supply chain strategy to improve performance. Advanced analytics (machine learning, advanced algorithms, deep learning, neural networks) are at the core of these disruptions and a crucial enabler for digital transformation. Still, companies struggle to adopt advanced analytics for supply chain. Resources and data quality are the most common obstacles.
The first half of this year has flown by and for many of us, it’s time for a much needed vacation. We’ve put together a new reading (and watch) list for this summer to help you gather some refreshing ideas as you gear up to plan for 2018. The list includes the best of our blog and news items, our latest webinars and most recent case studies. It’s the perfect companion for an inspiring holiday break!
Best of our Blog:
- 3 compelling reasons to start using Prescriptive Analytics: AIMMS’ SVP, Gertjan de Lange, discusses 3 major reasons businesses are feeling more compelled to adopt Prescriptive Analytics, a form of advanced analytics that uses techniques like machine learning and mathematical modeling to help you improve decision making.
- AIMMS featured in IT Subway Map of European Supply Chain Software Providers: We’re proud to report that we’ve been featured in 5 different subway lines, or software categories, in this year’s IT Subway Map of European SC Software Providers. Looking for a software provider for Business Analytics, S&OP, Inventory Optimization, Production Planning & Scheduling or SC Network Design? Browse the map and you’ll find yourself in our stop!
- Supply Chain Network Optimization Technology is ripe for disruption: 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. Why hasn’t it become cheaper or easier to have an optimized network? Chris Gordon, AIMMS VP North America, discusses this on our blog.
- Why you don’t need perfect data to start implementing S&OP: To truly leverage S&OP to improve business performance and predictability, you need to embark on a change management process and you need the right technology to self-enable your team. Often, teams think they also need plenty of clean and accurate data to do it right. But starting small can pay off, as Boon Edam’s Aron Waas (Global SC Director) explains in our recent blog post.
- Companies in Asia Pacific eager to innovate with Supply Chain Optimization: The adoption of advanced analytics has moved at a much slower pace in Asia Pacific compared to Europe or North America. But the tide is turning, as Lei Wang, AIMMS VP Asia Pacific, explains in this blog post.