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Companies have been investing in supply-chain technology for 20 years or more – yet many are still far from the goal of creating global, demand-driven networks. “Getting there takes more than a great tool,” says Green.
Miles says a dearth of talent is frustrating efforts to achieve supply-chain “nirvana.” “We’ve got cars that can drive at incredible speeds, but not everybody can drive them,” he says. Fresh talent needs to be focused on collaboration and an understanding of end-to-end processes.
Martin says it’s important to understand the context in which people are using technology. “You can spend all this money on technology, yet still be battling with basic visibility. We have more data than ever before, yet we can’t see the inventory.”
Demand is more volatile than ever, Green notes. The growing level of unpredictability in global supply chains calls for greater human interaction, not just the installation of cutting-edge applications.
“We started at the wrong point,” says Miles, “thinking that machines could create answers for us. The focus should be on people.” The job of machines should be to “mash data together and provide information to the users.”
Managing data should be everyone’s responsibility, says Martin, not just that of discrete departments within the organization. Another problem is the fact that so much data is transactional in nature. With the coming of big data and new analytics applications, that data can become “directional,” serving as the basis for better decisions. Right now, however, “I don’t think businesses know where to put those data scientists,” Martin says.
That wealth of new data contains much uncertainty, says Miles. Those who use social networks are still a relatively small percentage of the population, even if the data they generate is directionally correct. Green says it’s vital that companies utilize the information to create “meaningful insight.”
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