Analyst Insight: Cynicism does not enable progress! Why are many companies making strides and other are not in forecast accuracy? Implementing demand planning methods, technologies and processes that are appropriate to their business, their products and their sales channels might have a bit to do with it.
- Ann Grackin, chief executive officer of ChainLink Research
First, demand management is all about customers: What are their needs, spoken or latent, and how do we procure or design just enough to sell to them? Successful planners understand this and have processes both internal and collaboratively with their channels and suppliers to gain this data and model it - not relying on history as the sole source of data. Our research for both 2010 and 2011 business priorities shows that demand management is numero uno for all sorts of organizations in every sector.
Strategies for 2011 include:
• Collaboration: Management across the chain to understand the nuances of your business partners strategies and requirements. What matters to them in the demand process? They are trying to optimize different issues than your firm and subsequently their techniques are different and yield different types of data. That might have profoundly positive or negative impacts on how you see things. Dialog pays off. Then build the integrated planning process!
• Channel: Channel/sales partners have access to data. Collaboration does make a difference. Sales channel are a great source of data!
• Complexity: face up to it and tackle it!
• Sales and operations planning: Why is this such a problem? Again, facing up to the organizational challenges and using imagination can go quite further here than the technologies, strong or weak, that exist in the market place. But technology is part of the process.
• Technology solutions: In spite of all the talk, so many firms have not really started the journey to using advanced technologies to address the nuances of understanding demand. Great solutions, at all price points, do exist that can truly make a difference and are designed to specific industries, sectors and process problems. Doing without is not wise.
2011 will see more purchases of demand-oriented solutions.
Forecasting, Merchandizing, Trade Promotion Management, S&OP, and Collaboration, either as modules or the whole suite, will sell well.
Though the supply chain sector grows at about 7 percent a year, the demand sector holds the most interest to the enterprise. As firms outsource more, they need to be assured that their network of trading partners has the best possible information and forecasts on markets in order to ensure the whole supply chain performs!
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