Today’s companies continue to expand to reach global markets, but this has made control of supply chains more and more complex. Companies recognize that developing and executing successful supply chain strategies can be key to gaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace. A key to managing a global supply chain is having strong visibility. This has in turn prompted companies to use technologies such as ERP/MRP systems, warehouse management systems and transportation management systems. Additionally, companies are utilizing hardware technologies, hand-held scanners, GPS, tracking devices, cameras, microphones, RFID readers, wireless networks and automated warehouse systems (AGVs, Robots). Adoption of these technological tools allows more visibility than ever before. But having the data, alone is not enough; managers now have millions and billions of bits of data to decipher and sort through. Having piles of data is not enough, supply chain managers are now faced with how to best use the data to obtain the right information to track performance, diagnose bottlenecks and uncover opportunities for continuous improvement.
It was one of the last evenings of February 2015 and I was catching up with two of my buddies over beer. We spent the better part of the evening talking about old times. But given our association with technology, the conversation inevitably veered to what 2015 has in stock for the industry.
Many of us have heard the story of Christopher Columbus being challenged by nobles at a banquet about the greatness of his discovery. They argued that if it was not for him some other Spaniard would anyway have discovered America (confused for East Asia at that time). Columbus responded by challenging his critics to make an egg stand on its tip. When they gave up, he made the egg stand after flattening the tip with a gentle tap on the table. Of course that was Columbus' way of telling, that things are difficult only till somebody else does it. This story though of questionable authenticity is a good reminder of history being littered with cases of skepticism preceding significant discoveries/inventions. In Columbus' case the odds started even before the first voyage. The clergy were against him because they believed that the world was flat and hence it was impossible to reach Asia by sailing west. And the King himself agreed to the generous rewards sought by Columbus only because he believed that the explorer wouldn't make it back alive. And of course the rest is history.