Looking back on ‘essential analytics for the supply chain of the future’ predictions from five years ago reveals some interesting truths.
Now and then it’s worthwhile to look back and examine the opinions we held, individually and corporately, about the current and future state of the supply chain analytics industry. Thankfully, the web is filled with digital time capsules. To that end, we exhumed a series of four Halo blog posts about supply chain analytics, written back in 2014.
You can access them using the links below, or trust our synopsis:
- Understanding the Supply Chain Data Continuum
- Understanding Supply Chain Analytics
- Understanding the Supply Chain Collaboration Continuum
- Understanding The Supply Chain Distribution Continuum
From their titles, you can discern that these posts used a continuum or spectrum device to illustrate the ‘state of the union’ of four aspects of supply chain performance, and in addition what it meant for an enterprise to be on the immature versus mature end of the spectrum – or somewhere on the journey from one end to the other.
Admittedly, time capsules have a mixed reputation. Often, they show us that the future was not as advanced as we predicted, nor did it come as quickly. The past, meanwhile, turns out to not be as benighted as we thought.
One reason for the perceived lack of change is what psychologists call projection bias. That’s the idea that in this present moment we’ve achieved a certain level of sophistication, if not perfection. We like to reinforce the adequacy of our current circumstances, which in general makes it difficult to envision a radically altered future.
In one experimental example, people were asked how much they would pay to see their favorite band, at this point in time, perform in 10 years; others were asked how much they would pay now to see their favorite band from 10 years ago. “Participants,” the authors reported, “substantially overpaid for a future opportunity to indulge a current preference.” They called it the “end of history illusion”; people believed they had reached some “watershed moment” in which they had become their authentic self.
Now let’s give these older posts a chance to speak for themselves. At the very least they reveal the company’s then-current perspectives against the backdrop of developments in the supply chain analytics industry in 2014, and they offer a chance to grade the predictions they contain.
In no particular order:
- It’s all about the data. While it’s true that statements like “big data equals the holy grail” sound somewhat anachronistic, the underlying assertion has been proved true: more data from relevant market sources, collected in near real time, leads to better decisions. Consider the Demand Sensing solution.
- While reporting still has its place, it was clear in 2014 that predictive and prescriptive analytics were the correct goals for superior supply chain management.
- Collaboration is key. In 2014 we talked about Continuous Integrated Collaboration, meaning the tools themselves must foster a predisposition to action inside a team. Data is worthless if no one bases decisions on it. This is closely related to the ongoing democratization of tools and data. We talk less these days about the need for “SMEs, Data Scientists and massive computing power.”
- Humans always present unique challenges. “Moving data among humans is a behavioral more so than a technical challenge.” This is related to #3. Solution architecture plus UI/UX must work in concert to promote sharing, trust and consensus.
- The customer is the center. One of the 2014 posts declares, “Although on the forefront of the continuum, dissemination of data to customers is an interesting twist to the mobile BI movement.” We’ve imagined a cloud-centric, mobile computing world where customers are partners! And that’s just what we have.
Granted, no one and no company has a perfect crystal ball. But as Teddy Roosevelt said: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.”
At Halo we stay in the arena, we make predictions and offer opinions, but more than anything else we work hard to help customers achieve supply chain excellence.