Real-Time Supply Chain Visibility & Connectivity

Through the rich integration of experienced supply chain professionals, world class technology, and customer insights, C.H. Robinson is reinventing global supply chains by making them more prescriptive, automated and efficient.

Navisphere Vision continues to advance the powerful and proven capabilities of C.H. Robinson’s proprietary Navisphere technology platform.

Microsoft, an innovator in fulfillment and logistics capabilities and a customer of C.H. Robinson’s TMC division, has been using Navisphere Vision since its alpha release in 2016.

“Navisphere Vision helps us understand the things that we couldn’t before. It provides the visualization that connects data and the real-time events that are happening within our supply chain,” said Alaina Hawkins, senior manager of global logistics at Microsoft.

“Navisphere Vision helps us make decisions on a more precise, real-time level so we can address any challenges that might occur, react in a less randomized fashion, create predictability throughout our supply chain, and increase collaboration so we can deliver our products to customers on time. It’s tremendously powerful.”

In addition to providing real-time visibility down to an SKU level, Navisphere Vision delivers insights and impacts of potential disruptions from weather, traffic or current events, as well as predictive analytics to help shippers make better, faster decisions.

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Top tips to build a robust supply chain

All businesses need to ensure its goods and services are procured at the lowest cost and meet the company’s needs in terms of timely delivery, quantity, quality, and location.

This is essential in not only providing the best customer experience, but also in ensuring you stay on top of your competitors, as consistency in the supply chain is key. However, the supply chain management world is constantly evolving and it is key to keep pace with both market expectations as well as opportunities.

Choosing and procuring the right technology is just the beginning of the variety of challenges that are present when managing and securing an IT supply chain. Organisations need to ensure effective asset management configuration and deployment are continuing to take shape, while maintaining technology standards and continuity of supply.

Here are some top tips in managing and creating a robust and effective supply chain, with experience and advice from the largest FTSE listed British IT service provider with over a 30-year heritage in IT and information enablement.

Be clear on expectation and deliverables

Many organisations will issue identical performance indicators and market assessment techniques on all engagements they have, irrespective of the technology being purchased or outcome desired by the business.

This is a detrimental approach as nuances and subject matter expertise are unable to be imparted by the partner that could potentially save money, time or actually mitigate risk.

Truly assess each engagement and accurately as well as realistically assess the desired outcomes/output that you wish to achieve, in comparison to work loads and true capabilities of workforces and systems.

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Top 20 Supply Chain Management Software Suppliers 2017

The market for supply chain management (SCM) software, maintenance and services continued its growth in 2016, generating more than $11.1 billion, a 9% increase over 2015 revenues, according to the research firm Gartner.

That total includes applications for supply chain execution (SCE), supply chain planning (SCP) and procurement software. Since the market’s 2% decline in 2009, the market has posted double-digit growth in four of the past six years, according to Gartner. The SCM market is expected to exceed $13 billion in total software revenue by the end of 2017 and exceed $19 billion by 2021, Gartner forecasts, with software as a service (SaaS) enabling new growth opportunities.

“It continues to be a good year for the supply chain overall,” says Chad Eschinger, managing vice president of Gartner. “The Cloud-based segment grew 20%, which is consistent with what we’ve seen in recent years.”

The push for Cloud capabilities also fueled some of the acquisition activity over the last year. Eschinger cites examples such as Infor’s acquisition of GT Nexus, Kewill’s acquisition of LeanLogistics, Oracle’s acquisitions of LogFire and NetSuite, and E2open’s acquisitions of Terra Technology and, more recently, Steelwedge.

“Broadly speaking, we’re seeing cyclical consolidation,” Eschinger says. “For some companies it’s a land grab, for others it’s an effort to add functional and technical underpinnings to go to the Cloud or provide a fuller complement of Cloud capabilities.”

Suite vendors are increasingly inclined to offer end-to-end solutions, Eschinger says, tying in customer relationship management capabilities, replenishment, network design, clienteling and more. In addition to supply chain efficiency, these solutions are also aimed at improving and standardizing the consumer’s experience.

“The Amazon effect continues to wreak havoc in retail and for manufacturers selling direct-to-consumer,” Eschinger says. “Everyone wants real-time visibility into inventory, so data and the associated analytics continue to be front and center for most organizations.”

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Disney, Depp and the cyber supply chain risk management problem

One field-tested security strategy for information systems and digital content is to address the problem through processes, people and technology. On the process front, all companies involved in the production of digital IP should, by now, be adhering to a proven information security framework that fully addresses supply chain risks. That includes making sure your digital IP is protected at all times, even during post-production (or maybe we should say especially during post-production, given recent incidents).

Fortunately, there is a ready-made cybersecurity framework that companies can use, at no charge, thanks to the US federal government, which has done some sterling work in this area, namely the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

The current version is a great way to get a handle on your organization’s cybersecurity, and the next version, currently in draft, goes even deeper into the need to maintain cybersecurity throughout the supply chain. For that reason, the draft is worth quoting at length:

“The practice of communicating and verifying cybersecurity requirements among stakeholders is one aspect of cyber supply chain risk management (SCRM). A primary objective of cyber SCRM is to identify, assess and mitigate “products and services that may contain potentially malicious functionality, are counterfeit, or are vulnerable due to poor manufacturing and development practices within the cyber supply chain.”

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New DHL report reviews supply chain real estate

Companies are re-thinking their go-to-market strategies and, as a result, making different choices about how they locate, design and operate their distribution networks.

This has created a new landscape for supply chain real estate, according to a report published by DHL. Global and regional supply chains are changing, as they adapt to the new realities of commerce and competition.

The findings are part of The New Landscape of Supply Chain Real Estate report, which has been authored by Lisa Harrington, President of the lharrington group LLC, in collaboration with DHL.

The report states that while a healthier global economy fuels the demand for supply chain real estate, it is not the only driver.

Four other forces are at work, and they are having a transformational effect on companies’ distribution center networks.

They include:

  1. The e-commerce revolution
  2. Globalization and right-shoring
  3. Mergers and acquisitions
  4. Technology innovation

“The face of global supply chain networks is changing,” said Harrington, author of the report.

“Gone are the days of operating a static real estate portfolio and tweaking it every five to seven years. Business is too dynamic and the stakes are too high.

“The fact is, the way companies manage their supply chain real estate portfolios has morphed from a tactical/operational concern to a strategic differentiator. Supply chains that operate more nimbly and at lower cost don’t just save money. They drive growth.”

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Three supply chain challenges and how to overcome them

The modern supply chain is becoming more complex by the day. Businesses continue to struggle with keeping their supply chain under control but hidden risks still pose a significant threat to the industry. Even with all the new technologies making their way to the industry, businesses must be aware of these hidden risks and understand how to react appropriately.

Businesses of all kinds must keep supply chain visibility, cyber risk and natural disasters in mind at all times. All of these factors or even just one could have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. In this current edition of the ‘Challenges and Solutions’ series, we will take a close look at the most troublesome issues in the supply chain and how businesses can avoid or plan for these risks.

New technology

Advancing technology is making its way into the supply chain, forcing businesses to constantly change systems. New services that provide an “Uber-Like” freight experience require supply chain managers to constantly hone their talents and adapt to these kind of digital disruptions. Not only with the Internet of Things be transforming the supply chain end to end, the way people utilize technology to create new processes will need to be monitored. The challenge is keeping supply chain managers and procurement professionals up-to-date and trained with all these new advancements.

Finding a solution can be challenging at first. It will take some time for a business to discover the right process that works for them. There is no one answer fits all, rather a unique, business specific training program must be developed. Some solutions may include putting together a team in charge of locating the latest supply chain innovations and coming up with a plan to train the rest of the staff. Others could be outsourced training programs funded by the organization whose employees will be taking part. Continuous training will be vital in order to remain effective in this transforming industry.

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Technology’s Role in Managing the Evolution of the Customer Centric Supply Chain

Having an effective supply chain has always been key to retail success. Whether you call it micro-merchandising or the customer-centric supply chain, the challenge has traditionally been to quickly identify trends or activity in a store that is outperforming the norm, and rapidly roll this out to all stores with similar attributes and customer behaviours. Indeed, much of the ‘flair’ that separated well- from poorly performing retail operators was down to the ability of some key individuals to spot trends, clusters and patterns that drove better understanding of customer behaviour, and act upon these insights to deliver to customers’ demands.

This macro-level insight is, however, no longer good enough. Today, retailers need to be able to understand not only how items are performing across the entire retail estate as well as within individual stores and spot trends and patterns accordingly; they also need to be able to marry this micro-level performance to geographic and demographic information to reflect the demand from a particular store’s customers. And, they need to be able to forecast how those same items will be performing in weeks and months to come.

This is the capability that is required to truly deliver today’s customer-centric supply chain. But it demands a level of detail simply too difficult for humans to manage. Software solutions are designed to raise the average performance level by helping the poor or below average operators benefit from the expertise of the higher performers and placing this supporting technology in the hands of those key individuals who would act as district or regional manager.

But the needs of today’s customer-centric supply chain have outpaced even the majority of these solutions.

Read more Technology’s Role in Managing the Evolution of the Customer Centric Supply Chain

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Six signs that your Big Data expert, isn’t

big-data-iceberg-napkin-21-608x608

This is so far the best article that I have been reading about the Big Data. It is what I have been advocating to people.

1. They talk about “bigness” and “data,” rather than “new questions”

… It seems most of the tech industry is completely drunk on “Big Data.”

… most companies are spending vast amounts of money on more hardware and software yet they are getting little, if any, positive business value.

… “Big Data” is a terrible name for the revolution going on all around us. It’s not about Bigness, and it’s not about the Data. Rather, it’s about “new questions,” being facilitated by ubiquitous access to massive amounts of data.

… If all you’re doing is asking the same old questions of bigger amounts of the same old data, you’re not doing “Big Data,” you’re doing “Big Business Intelligence,” which is itself becoming an oxymoron.

Continue reading

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A Tale of Two Disciplines: Data Scientist and Business Analyst

data scientist and BA

The ability to use data to achieve enterprise goals requires advanced skills that many organizations don’t yet have. But they are looking to add them – and fast. The question is, what type of big data expert is needed? Does an organization need a data scientist or does it need a business analyst? Maybe it even needs both. These two titles are often used interchangeably, and confusion abounds.

Business analysts typically have educational backgrounds in business and humanities. They find and extract valuable information from a variety of sources to evaluate past, present, and future business performance – and then determine which analytical models and approaches will help explain solutions to the end users who need them.

With educational backgrounds in computer science, mathematics, and technology, data scientists are digital builders. They use statistical programming to actually construct the framework for gathering and using the data by creating and implementing algorithms to do it. Such algorithms help businesses with decision making, data management, and the creation of data visualizations to help explain the data that they gather.

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Six Lessons In Supply Chain Strategy From Genghis Khan

Supply chain strategy can be a squishy topic. Basically, we try to keep costs down and service up, but what does this really say about how to win in a competitive business? Working harder at the same things is not a sustainable strategic advantage.

True strategy means finding ways to use and combine tactics and resources to achieve a goal in conditions of uncertainty. For supply chain leaders, it demands thinking laterally about everything that happens from the customer back and then placing bets to gain an operational edge.

In addition to modern thinkers like Peter Drucker and Michael Porter, some of the best lessons on this topic come directly from the playbook of Genghis Khan, the 13th century Mongol who conquered nearly all of Eurasia.

Here are six that apply today.

1. Use the skills of others.

The Mongols made no products, farmed no crops, and built no buildings, but still saw the value of engineers, miners, doctors and scholars.

2. Communication is essential to power.

Having armies spread over thousands of miles led Genghis Khan to establish a sort of Pony Express that was designed and maintained centrally.

3. Embrace technology.

In the year 1206, when Genghis Khan was born, his tribe had no metal and lived in felt tents. Fifty years later, they had mastered siege technologies like catapults and trebuchets as well as early firearms and cannon.

4. Never stop learning.

Genghis Khan’s genius was not the result of some epiphany but came rather, in the words of biographer Jack Weatherford, “from a persistent cycle of pragmatic learning, experimental adaptation, and constant revision”.

5. Cherish diversity.

A typically among history’s great empires, the Mongols allowed complete religious freedom and employed almost all of their conquered peoples’ best minds in the imperial administration.

6. Swallow your pride.

Genghis Khan cared nothing for appearances and would often feign retreat to draw enemies onto more favourable ground.

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