@ Supply Chain Management


The accidental analyst

Adrian Gonzales ruminates on his eleven year stint at Arc Advisory in the post: The Accidental Analyst: My 11 years at ARC. It’s an interesting read about the progress of an analyst. Adrian talks about what has changed and what hasn’t changed in this arena:

[The dotcom era]. era served as a catalyst for companies to “think differently” about how they could leverage Internet technologies to transform their supply chain and logistics processes.


Data quality remains a huge problem in the industry, and it’s only getting worse. Garbage still flows in, and garbage still flows out.

Companies still want their 3PLs to be more proactive, and 3PLs still want their customers to view them as partners instead of suppliers.

Everyone talks about collaboration, but when times get tough, as it did last year, it’s every company for itself.

Forecasts are always wrong.

It’s about people, processes, and technologies, but not necessarily in that order.

Data quality is never going to improve because data means different things to different people and so also the classification of what is garbage and what is not. The Internet is one big garbage dump but that’s no reason not to dive in – there’s a pony in there somewhere. Look at it this way, we’re in the stage of global search aka Google, Bing and what have you. Next, will come local search – simply because people will become attuned to the notion that they understand data better than some bot running on a google server in Sunnyvale, CA. And so on.

Forecasts are always wrong just as such statements that imply the same. Forecasts are mostly wrong because it is about the future. I’ve talked about that on my blog several times – there are two extremas to making forecasts – very detailed ones and a few milestones here and there. In my opinion, what is critical is not forecasting and its accuracy but execution and its implied capability. I’d focus more on short run forecasting with rapidly adaptable capability than the converse. When the converse is the case, people lament about the fact that “Forecasts are always wrong.” Yes, but that need not trouble anyone nor detain them.

Let me leave you with a sanguine observation about bubbles. The last bubble cannot be reflated because of the knowledge everyone has about it, especially about its bursting and the fact that a majority of the people are still vested in the last bubble and have yet to realize that it is not coming back. That implies that the mania of housing is over for a good while and that asset class has to go back to being a stodgy preserver of wealth (whatever little there is of it).

The consequence is that without an asset class so commonly found and the method of extracting value from it as the asset grew to bubble proportions, consumption cannot be financed at the previous pace. That has many implications for those who create goods for consumption and those who supply it (and transport it).

So all hail to the next bubble – contrary to the notion that the masters of our fate are pulling the strings that bind us; it is only that we’re so poor string pullers that we end up stringing ourselves up nice and dandy.

Category: Logistics, Personal Observations, Supply Chain Management


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March 2010