Does Your Company Have the “Right Stuff” to Embrace Advanced Analytics?
John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth on Mercury-Atlas 6 on February 20, 1962, just a few days after I was born. I grew up watching the Apollo Space Program launches including the six launches that sent humans to the moon and back. Like many kids back then I dreamed of being a test pilot and an Astronaut. I partially achieved that dream by becoming an Aerospace Test Engineer and working at Edwards Air Force Base where many of the early test flights by Chuck Yeager, Scott Crossfield, and other’s took place. On February 6, 2018, 56 years after John Glenn’s historic launch, SpaceX launched their Falcon Heavy rocket with Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster and a dummy named Starman on a journey into the solar system. The Falcon Heavy is a new class of rockets that may allow man to colonize Mars and beyond. Today, space launches are routine with launches happening on a monthly if not weekly basis. Exciting stuff for someone who dreamed of being an astronaut.
It is also an exciting time to be a Supply Chain Practitioner. Like space exploration, the supply chain has become significantly more complicated over the last 25 years. Technological advances have simplified and automated a lot of routine processes while opening up entirely new opportunities. These new frontiers require advanced capabilities to drive business value such as cost reduction and customer service improvements. Analytics, for example, today is a routine part of a supply chain professional’s job. We can now analyze the end-to-end supply chain and quickly determine the best path forward. While speaking with practitioners at industry events it is quite apparent, some supply chain teams have the “Right Stuff” to fully embrace advanced analytics while others are just beginning their journey.
Moving up the analytics maturity curve takes a combination of the right talent, processes and enabling technology. Unfortunately, the people component is often not adequately addressed. As supply chain planning incorporates more data, supply chain roles need to be redefined to support analysis and decision making. Just as Chuck Yeager had to acquire new abilities and skills to break the sound barrier, companies have to define new skills and roles to meet their envisioned advanced analytic enabled processes.
Below are a few of the new analytic roles for leading supply chain teams today:
- Business Analyst: understands business needs, assesses the business impact of changes, captures, analyses and documents requirements and communicates requirements to relevant stakeholders.
- Supply Chain Analyst: responsible for improving the performance of an operation by figuring out what is needed and coordinating with other employees to implement and test new supply chain methods.
- Artificial Intelligence Specialist: work on systems that not only gather information, but formulate decisions and act on that information. Software that determines Sentiment from Social Data is one example of the work of Artificial Intelligence Specialists.
- Data Scientists / Big Data Analyst: analyzes and interprets complex digital data, such as the usage statistics of a website, especially in order to assist a business in its decision-making.
- Database Engineer: responsible for building and maintaining the software infrastructure that enables computation over large data sets.
As our enterprise systems continue to produce volumes of data, we need to make smart decisions faster to drive the business forward. Does your current team have the ‘Right Stuff’ to embrace advanced analytics? What new roles do you need in your supply chain team? How should your team be organized to efficiently run the business while also driving innovation? Are your current supply chain systems sufficient to leverage new data sources and enable advanced analytics? Can you automate routine activities? These are just a few of the questions you should ask as you embrace all that analytics has to offer to keep your supply chain team engaged in value-creating activities.
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As a former Director of Supply Chain Management for a multi-national, multi-channel food manufacturer, I experienced first-hand the variety of challen