Feb 3, 2010

The Google of Supply Chains? [POV]

Yesterday, I attended a presentation that shattered my dreams. Have you ever felt like you ideahad this brilliant idea that no one ever thought of. Your idea is in fact so cutting-edge and your knowledge so incomplete that you decide to wait a few years before actually starting to implement it. You think there is this perfect amalgamation of  vision and practicality that will certainly make your idea a great success – only to discover that someone has already implemented the idea – YOUR IDEA on a much larger, grander scale and is a few years ahead in practice than your vision itself. These were my exact emotions at the presentation yesterday. Ask me why?
THE CLOUD: Cloud computing is a concept that has captured my imagination. Not having been at the cusp of the internet’s beginning years, there aren’t as many primitive systems that I’ve faced (when I was 15, I was using Windows XP and a lot of the programs I was using then didn’t have stability issues). When I used the internet, I started with IE6 but ended up using Firefox after a month. Today, I use Google Chrome. I pride myself in using the most advanced technology available to me.
Given this backdrop, cloud computing seemed to be a natural extension to everyday computing. It seemed to be but natural that all your data and information would go where you go. You would be able to turn your data on or off with a single click and it would be available wherever you go. Like many people in my generation, I took to cloud computing services (like Google Docs, Dropbox, Evernote – you get the idea) to help me complete my everyday tasks with ease.
For the past few months however, I began pondering the idea of supply chains residing in the cloud. By this I don’t mean the actual physical supply chain (obviously) but the data that supply chains are made of. The data that has the ability to make or break supply chains. The data visibility that many companies are trying so hard to achieve at the back end without sacrificing their competitive advantage and (in this economic climate) without sacrificing too many resources. Cloud computing could be the panacea for this issue. The whole idea of cloud computing revolves around a single concept – DATA IS UBIQUITOUS. This concept is true in supply chains as well. Data and its visibility are of paramount importance. Even today, supply chain managers are struggling with the Bull-Whip effect. The use of a cloud computing infrastructure that took POS data and shared it with the entire supply chain for a particular product line would put an end to the entire concept of forecasting and would enable supply chains to be entirely demand-driven. Suppliers would be able to work with actual sales data and not forecasted data. And if this is true for the entire supply chain, the whole notion of the Bull-Whip effect would not exist.
ONE NETWORK: Well, yesterday I found a company that does just that (thus effectively shattering my dream of being the first one to have thought of such a concept). One Network Enterprises is a SaaimageS provider that helps make supply chains better – in the cloud. The entire software is plug-and-play. You pay a subscription fee and you’re hooked onto the network immediately. I like the term “Community Supply Chain Management” too because that is telling it like it is. It is basically a huge network that companies hook onto along with their suppliers and use actual data to drive their supply chain and collaborate with one another. I was also able to look at a few screenshots of the software (could not see the actual demo because of some security issues) and the software looks extremely intuitive and natural to use. Like Mark Skoda – who was the presenter yesterday – put it,
“Anyone who knows how to draw stick figures and play tic-tac-toe can use our software.”
A pretty convincing sales pitch, I must say. Let me make it clear here that neither am I endorsing the product in any manner, nor am I writing this article for money. I am truly astonished to see an idea that I had, being implemented so thoroughly. I can plainly see that this company is doing with supply chains what Google is doing with the enterprise – moving data to the cloud. Mark likes to call One Network the iPhone of Supply Chains. But from a holistic view, they certainly are “The Google of Supply Chains”.
This whole experience has humbled me (All my fingernails are gone. Food for thought I guess!!). Watch me walk into the sunset in solitude… having buried my idea, I now search for something new.

Feb 3, 2010

The Google of Supply Chains? [POV]

Yesterday, I attended a presentation that shattered my dreams. Have you ever felt like you ideahad this brilliant idea that no one ever thought of. Your idea is in fact so cutting-edge and your knowledge so incomplete that you decide to wait a few years before actually starting to implement it. You think there is this perfect amalgamation of  vision and practicality that will certainly make your idea a great success – only to discover that someone has already implemented the idea – YOUR IDEA on a much larger, grander scale and is a few years ahead in practice than your vision itself. These were my exact emotions at the presentation yesterday. Ask me why?
THE CLOUD: Cloud computing is a concept that has captured my imagination. Not having been at the cusp of the internet’s beginning years, there aren’t as many primitive systems that I’ve faced (when I was 15, I was using Windows XP and a lot of the programs I was using then didn’t have stability issues). When I used the internet, I started with IE6 but ended up using Firefox after a month. Today, I use Google Chrome. I pride myself in using the most advanced technology available to me.
Given this backdrop, cloud computing seemed to be a natural extension to everyday computing. It seemed to be but natural that all your data and information would go where you go. You would be able to turn your data on or off with a single click and it would be available wherever you go. Like many people in my generation, I took to cloud computing services (like Google Docs, Dropbox, Evernote – you get the idea) to help me complete my everyday tasks with ease.
For the past few months however, I began pondering the idea of supply chains residing in the cloud. By this I don’t mean the actual physical supply chain (obviously) but the data that supply chains are made of. The data that has the ability to make or break supply chains. The data visibility that many companies are trying so hard to achieve at the back end without sacrificing their competitive advantage and (in this economic climate) without sacrificing too many resources. Cloud computing could be the panacea for this issue. The whole idea of cloud computing revolves around a single concept – DATA IS UBIQUITOUS. This concept is true in supply chains as well. Data and its visibility are of paramount importance. Even today, supply chain managers are struggling with the Bull-Whip effect. The use of a cloud computing infrastructure that took POS data and shared it with the entire supply chain for a particular product line would put an end to the entire concept of forecasting and would enable supply chains to be entirely demand-driven. Suppliers would be able to work with actual sales data and not forecasted data. And if this is true for the entire supply chain, the whole notion of the Bull-Whip effect would not exist.
ONE NETWORK: Well, yesterday I found a company that does just that (thus effectively shattering my dream of being the first one to have thought of such a concept). One Network Enterprises is a SaaimageS provider that helps make supply chains better – in the cloud. The entire software is plug-and-play. You pay a subscription fee and you’re hooked onto the network immediately. I like the term “Community Supply Chain Management” too because that is telling it like it is. It is basically a huge network that companies hook onto along with their suppliers and use actual data to drive their supply chain and collaborate with one another. I was also able to look at a few screenshots of the software (could not see the actual demo because of some security issues) and the software looks extremely intuitive and natural to use. Like Mark Skoda – who was the presenter yesterday – put it,
“Anyone who knows how to draw stick figures and play tic-tac-toe can use our software.”
A pretty convincing sales pitch, I must say. Let me make it clear here that neither am I endorsing the product in any manner, nor am I writing this article for money. I am truly astonished to see an idea that I had, being implemented so thoroughly. I can plainly see that this company is doing with supply chains what Google is doing with the enterprise – moving data to the cloud. Mark likes to call One Network the iPhone of Supply Chains. But from a holistic view, they certainly are “The Google of Supply Chains”.
This whole experience has humbled me (All my fingernails are gone. Food for thought I guess!!). Watch me walk into the sunset in solitude… having buried my idea, I now search for something new.