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.
Choosing a supply chain software vendor can be a long and tedious process. You need to make sure the software has the right capabilities, that you have the right people on board to truly leverage it and that it will support and not hinder your processes. Supply Chain Media publishes a yearly IT Subway Map to help business leaders in their decision making process. We are pleased to announce that we’ve been featured once more in the report. This is the fourth time AIMMS is named in the IT Subway Map. This time, we have been allocated five different subway lines, or software categories.
Mapping European Supply Chain Software
The IT Software Map reflects the diversity of supply chain software types. Companies are allocated positions on the map based on the number of implementations and the share of revenue for each software type in Europe. The age and size of the company also plays a role in the selection process.
With the Subway Map, business leaders can navigate a wide array of vendors available in the market for the most sought after solution types. Supply Chain Media’s Martijn Lofvers explains: “The purpose of the IT Subway Map is to provide a wide overview of the supply chain software market in Europe. We know that users think in solutions, but we don’t want to put vendors in a box, as we recognize that some software types are very versatile. That’s why a single vendor can have multiple stops on the map.”
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?
The adoption of advanced analytics has moved at a much slower pace in Asia Pacific compared to Europe or North America. There are innovative firms that are setting the standard for innovation and successful analytics adoption, but as Actionable Intelligence expert Keith B. Carter explained in an interview with us last year, large businesses in the region are still lagging behind. In recent months, I‘ve been active in several events in the region and I’ve noticed a changing trend. Companies are increasingly eager to hear about optimization and advanced analytics. It’s not hard to see why. People are very intrigued by Prescriptive Analytics and Modeling, hearing success stories from counterparts in industries like energy and retail. Still, most businesses are worried about execution. Let’s take a closer look at their interests and concerns.
Areas of interest
There are several areas where companies are eager to apply optimization. These tend to be:
- Network design and planning: the process of evaluating complex trade-offs to deliver a network plan that maximizes profits and minimizes costs.
- Distribution center and coverage planning: a process to identify what the best location for your distribution centers is to ensure efficient and on-time deliveries across the chain.
- Stock allocation: the process of aligning supply and demand to move merchandise in a fast and agile way.
- Production planning: determining a production plan to serve different customers in an optimal way.
The need for advanced analytics in these areas is pressing, as large amounts of data are available, adding complexity to operations. However, there are some concerns hindering adoption.
If you’ve read up on the latest topics in the field of data analysis, then you’ve probably encountered the term Prescriptive Analytics. Prescriptive Analytics is a type of Advanced Analytics that results in a recommended action. Unlike Descriptive (focused on reporting with basic trend or pattern recognition) or Predictive Analytics (focused on predicting the future with forecasting techniques), Prescriptive Analytics uses techniques like machine learning and mathematical modeling to help you improve decision making.
Prescriptive Analytics is at the cutting edge of data science and companies are increasingly interested in exploring its benefits. According to Gartner’s Forecast Snapshot, the Prescriptive Analytics software market will reach $1.1 billion in value by 2019. About 35% of companies are expected to adopt this type of analytics by 2020, but what exactly is driving adoption? AIMMS has been in the business for more than 25 years. Over time, we’ve identified 3 major reasons businesses feel compelled to adopt Prescriptive Analytics. Let’s explore them further.
As we step into 2017, we took some time to reflect on the most popular posts on our Supply Chain blog last year. Trending topics included S&OP, Prescriptive Analytics, Supply Chain Optimization, Supply Chain Centers of Excellence and Supply Chain Analytics. What are you interested in learning about this year? Let us know in the comments and check out the curated list of our most well-read blog posts in 2016: Continue reading »
Liberty Global is the world’s largest international TV and broadband company with operations in more than 30 countries. The company started working with AIMMS and our implementation partner Districon in October 2015 to develop a Demand Aggregation tool. Today, they are looking to expand their use of AIMMS for other planning capabilities. We had the pleasure to speak with Willem Vesters, Liberty Global’s VP Global Supply Chain Planning, to learn more about their optimization journey.
Hi Willem, can you please tell us more about your background?
I am originally from Breda, a city in the southern part of the Netherlands. I have a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Delft University of Technology but I’ve spend most of my career in operations. I worked at ING for a short period, then moved to Philips and subsequently I became the Supply Chain Planning Director for Office Depot in Europe. These days, I head up the Supply Chain Planning division at Liberty Global.
Sales & Operations planning has been around for 30 years. It was created initially by Oliver Wight and has become the standard procedure to improve business performance and predictability. Throughout the years, we’ve witnessed waves of interest in S&OP and its evolution IBP, which incorporates financial planning. In the past 2 years, we’ve seen the appeal of S&OP increase a lot more. But companies tend to struggle when it comes to finding the right technology to enable the process. In this blog post, I will delve into 5 issues companies typically experience with their S&OP software.
The whole purpose of S&OP is to discuss important questions today to prevent them from causing urgent issues 12 months from now. The business impact of this is profound. As Lora Cecere (Supply Chain Insights) explains, an effective S&OP process can result in a more controlled, aligned, agile, proactive and strategic supply chain. But to implement it effectively, companies first need to understand why S&OP is important for their business. Every company has different business drivers and different requirements. This makes S&OP implementation a difficult process, especially when it comes to finding the right tools.