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Predictions from Supply Chain Gurus – Part 2

Continuing from my first post: Predictions from Supply Chain Gurus – Part 1, I want to take a look at two predictions for 2012 by two noted Supply Chain gurus namely Bob Ferrari and Steve Gold.

First up, Bob Ferrari’s prediction

"The concept for “supply chain control tower’ coupled with more leveraged use of predictive analytics will come to the forefront, but in 2012 there will be a need for vendors and consultants to focus on market education and early adoption support," Ferrari says.

Read all of Bob Ferrari’s predictions here: 2012 Supply Chain Predictions : Is the End of the World nigh?

Second, Steve Gold’s prediction

Gold predicts continued inflation in raw materials and other input costs in 2012 (not all agree with him there, given slowing global growth), but regardless, more interesting is what he says companies must do about it.

Gold says hedging and demand aggregation strategies should be part of the approach that companies take, but that they must also to look at reducing those costs not by focusing on the price or rates they pay, but instead or additionally by "Trying to find a way of redesigning products or working with suppliers collaboratively to consume less" – which he says requires a new way of thinking and acting.

About the above predictions, they’re rather safe predictions – what I’d like to call, trend based predictions. We all know about Big Data and the impact that it’s going to have on every business. However, not all is so clear cut with this predictive analysis stuff – nothing new other than access (and the consequent ability) to a whole lot more information is happening right now. It’s like the old optimist child joke – when she saw a pile of horse manure, instantly jumped in saying that there must be a pony in here somewhere.

Gold’s predictions is also predicated on the widespread feeling that inflation (even hyper inflation) is about to break loose. However, the US Central Bank is operating under the assumption and expectation that inflation is muted. Compare that to my empirical observation from my grocery shopping that inflation is ~ 9-10% on the grocery budget. Of course, if you added say Hard Disk drives to that basket, it might average out things a bit but I’m not in the habit of eating bits and bytes for breakfast.

While commodity prices have been increasing in the past – let’s hypothesize that this is because of easy credit, the spectre of another recession has put the brakes on expected demand and this has consequently led to a fall in prices in the current. If the central banks of the world coordinate another round of easy credit, then we’d switch back to the former situation of increasing commodity prices. This is not looking like inflation or hyperinflation but stagflation. Furthermore, it suggests that stagflation is nothing more than ignorance-flation in the sense that no one really knows what to do and nothing seems to be working out.

More to come…

How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did

Or how Big Data is the wild wild west – where the saloon owners knew a lot more about who walked into their saloon than they themselves knew.

This article: How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did explores a real incident about the way that Target’s marketing and information based corporation targets its customers (and dare I say keeps even its own store managers at the front line in the dark.)

Read more at my blog post at pachydata.com.

How Hadoop is revolutionizing BI and Data Analytics

If you haven’t tired of my shameless promotion of my other blog – Pachy Data here, here’s another opportunity to say “Stop already”. At the very least, this shameless promotion should have some takeaways for SCM folks. Big Data is going to revolutionize the SCM landscape (and the Enterprise itself) in ways that you cannot begin to imagine. In fact, the resultant is going to be that either we have someone’s imagination thrust on you or you thrust your imagination on them.

Read more – How Hadoop is revolutionizing Business Intelligence and Data Analytics.

The Coming Tech-led Boom

The Coming Tech-led Boom is a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal.

In January 2012, we sit again on the cusp of three grand technological transformations with the potential to rival that of the past century. All find their epicenters in America: big data, smart manufacturing and the wireless revolution.

Now, that’s what I call timing because I’ve been staking out the ground on two of those technological transformation – Smarter Manufacturing here on this blog and Big Data (at my new blog: Pachydata.com). Alas, as far as Smarter Manufacturing is concerned, I’m more concerned about effective manufacturing and elaborating on the fundamentals of manufacturing carried out in an intensely competitive environment.

The Smarter Manufacturing that the authors of the article had in mind is as follows:

While we see evidence already in automation and information systems applied to supply-chain management, we are just entering an era where the very fabrication of physical things is revolutionized by emerging materials science. Engineers will soon design and build from the molecular level, optimizing features and even creating new materials, radically improving quality and reducing waste.

Devices and products are already appearing based on computationally engineered materials that literally did not exist a few years ago: novel metal alloys, graphene instead of silicon transistors (graphene and carbon enable a radically new class of electronic and structural materials), and meta-materials that possess properties not possible in nature; e.g., rendering an object invisible—speculation about which received understandable recent publicity.

This era of new materials will be economically explosive when combined with 3-D printing, also known as direct-digital manufacturing—literally "printing" parts and devices using computational power, lasers and basic powdered metals and plastics. Already emerging are printed parts for high-value applications like patient-specific implants for hip joints or teeth, or lighter and stronger aircraft parts. Then one day, the Holy Grail: "desktop" printing of entire final products from wheels to even washing machines.

Such a radical shift is definitely possible but that changes the very idea of manufacturing as it has existed over the last three centuries. It’s not Smarter Manufacturing as much as it is desktop manufacturing.

Ok, so one out of three – not bad at all.

Enterprise Architecture

A couple of posts ago, I had intimated that I was broadening my blogging horizons a bit. And finally, I can throw a bit of the covers off. I just blogged about The Zachmann Framework at my other blog. So gander over, wander or hover over that post of mine.

Pachy Data {Big Data in the Enterprise} is my new blog venture.

About me

I am Chris Jacob Abraham and I live, work and blog from Newburgh, New York. I work for IBM as a Senior consultant in the Fab PowerOps group that works around the issue of detailed Fab (semiconductor fab) level scheduling on a continual basis. My erstwhile company ILOG was recently acquired by IBM and I've joined the Industry Solutions Group there.

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