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There has been a dramatic change in information-technology applications since Sidhu’s days at i2 Technologies 15 years ago, he says. Back then, much of the focus was around the possibility of glitches caused by the Y2K problem. Corporations were intent on adopting new software architecture and getting rid of legacy systems.
At the same time, Sidhu says, e-commerce was beginning to take hold, in tandem with customers’ desire for greater customization of product. In line with those developments, many companies were focusing on replacing or updating their enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
Things are quite different today, he says. There’s still a strong emphasis on planning, but supply chains have grown in complexity. And the maturation of “mass customization” has yielded a huge number of potential price points and delivery mechanisms.
“Uncertainty has also gone up,” Sidhu says, adding that global changes in oil and commodity prices are impacting companies much faster than before. “The need for a company to be agile is about ten times more than ten years ago,” he says.
In the face of such volatility, some companies have decided that planning is less important than being able to react to anything that happens. Sidhu agrees to an extent, while insisting that “there’s a lot of value in understanding potential scenarios, and detecting earlier which ones are working out.”
A key discipline today is decision management, he says. It involves using data in a more constructive manner. It’s all about going “from insights to outcomes – the ability to replan quickly,” Sidhu says. And that means pulling down the functional silos that prevent planning across an organization.
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