Supply Chain Insights – Lora Cecere

I have always been impressed with Lora’s foresight. Her initiative to bring together a group of industry experts to test the impact of new smart technology is not something that anyone can easily pull off. And her willingness to share her learning openly is truly a rare find. Supply Chain Insights has moved beyond their competition. Lora is not just an Analyst content to observe, she and her company are being active in shaping the future of supply chain.

The next Global Supply Chain Insight Summit 2018 will be held in Philadelphia, PA on September 4-7, 2018. You can find out more at:

2018 Summit Agenda

Tim Gray

I have always been impressed with Lora's foresight. Her initiative to bring together a group of industry experts to test the impact of new smart technology is not something that anyone can easily pull off. And her willingness to share her learning openly is truly a rare find. Supply Chain [...] Read More...

Interoperability: Achilles Heel or the Special Sauce

Everyone from supply chain to healthcare is talking about Interoperability, or the ability of information systems to work together within and across organizational boundaries, by enabling different information technology systems, and software applications to communicate, exchange data, and use the information that has been exchanged.

“The dream is to have interoperability between networks. Why is it needed? Business leaders now manage a value chain, not a simple supply chain within their four walls. They need interoperability between networks and technology applications. They know that a traditional focus on standards and integration does not work.

The elephant in the room is interoperability. There is friction in the process of data exchange. Investments in ERP are not the answer.” ~ Lora Cecere, Founder of Supply Chain Insights

Interoperability, one of the most difficult and pressing challenges and opportunities as Lora Cecere pointed out. It can be the Achilles heel that prevents progress or can be the special sauce that will enable the hype to deliver value digital revolution / Industry 4.0

“But because data is arriving from many different sources — suppliers, transporters, warehouses, distributors — quality and interoperability of the data is critical, and still a significant technological barrier that a wide range of companies are working on.” ~ PwC

Our industry’s traditional culture is competition, not collaboration. There exist a host of reasons why implementing network interoperability successfully is considered difficult.  Lack of consistent data standards, system incompatibility, to the cost perspective, designing the network architecture for interoperability implies the willingness to accept the complex set of benefits and associated liabilities. And the market and regulators are far from starting any work on it. Although significant strides have been made to support interoperability, the widespread adoption of standards to date has been slow, due to the challenging complexity and the fact that many of the legacy business models are based on closed systems and data capture rather than open digital ecosystems.

“Adding to the challenge is the disincentive today’s technology “giants” (e.g. Google, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, etc.) have to create interoperability, in which open standards undermine the competitive advantage(s) they are each trying to create. Each of these companies has big dollars and big plans supporting their individual, proprietary operating systems, equipment, and protocols. To build bridges (standards) with other systems inherently lessens their differentiation.”

This challenge is underscored because those companies in whom consumers are already invested are likely to maintain their walled gardens. “We have an Apple Internet of Things and a Google Internet of Things,” explains Rachel Kalmar, Data Scientist at Misfit Wearables. Instead of opening infrastructure horizontally, the giants are only contributing to its fragmentation by creating vertical stacks of integrated products.

“The vision is that connectivity between people, processes, and things works no matter what screen type, browser, or hardware is used. The reality, however, is that the IoT is fragmented and lacks interoperability; disparate or overlapping solutions can’t easily “talk” (connect) to each other.”

“Visibility as a topic is confusing. Technology vendors have conflicting definitions. The current state is pretty Powerpoints with hollow words bandied about in sales cycles. It is messy. As shown in Figure 1, currently there are large gaps for the line-of-business user. Despite the advancements in B:C processes, we have made little progress in the advancement of B:B processes. Most hang on the back of 40-year old Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) processes.”

For the industry, the larger elephant is “What is the Return on Investment?” While companies know that they need to conquer this hurdle, they are hamstrung. Process innovation with new technologies is hamstrung by the need to show a definitive ROI.” Lora Cecere, Founder of Supply Chain Insights

Take the healthcare industry’s interoperability challenge as an example. “You’ve got Fitbit, Apple Watch, all of this consumer tech collecting data on your blood pressure, heart rate, etc,” said Forde. “Then you go to the hospital or your doctor and they have their own system. You see the allergist and they’ve got their own system, and none of it is connected. If there’s no interoperability between any of these systems, how are you going to get the best possible care?”

Reducing barriers to information flow would benefit not only consumers but also other actors in the supply chain, such as producers, retailers, distributors, and certifiers. Well-known benefits include, for example, reductions of costs of coordination and increased flexibility (Clemons & Row, 1993).

Everyone is talking about how to realize Industry 4.0. We have got blockchain, IoT, cloud computing, all of these very promising smart technologies, yet we have the challenge with interoperability and it will only grow as the latest smart technologies generate significantly more data from a wider variety of sources.  How can we begin on the path towards interoperability? As Brian Tessier mentioned at the conference, the good news is that more and more companies and products are beginning to emerge that enable interoperability through open-source development.

“Overcoming the challenge of interoperability may be the single most important hurdle for Industry 4.0, as it is what enables the boundless connections of a connected world. More and more companies and products are beginning to emerge that enable interoperability through open-source development.”

As the challenges of interoperability finally seem to be fully understood, the huge gap between plans and reality in this field is also recognized. A major shift in organization practice and structure will require. I think we should stop talking about it and actually start achieving it.

What are your thoughts on interoperability ? Any comments gladly appreciated.

Tim Gray

Everyone from supply chain to healthcare is talking about Interoperability, or the ability of information systems to work together within and across organizational boundaries, by enabling different information technology systems, and software applications to communicate, exchange data, and use the information that has been exchanged. “The dream is to have [...] Read More...

Blockchain: The Great Paradigm Shift

During The 2017 Supply Chain Insights “Imagine Supply Chain 2030 Global Summit”

I found myself surprised and confused by a topic I felt I had a strong handle on. Having sponsored my own company’s R&D efforts in blockchain I thought I have a deep and clear understanding of how this technology would mature and become demanded by our client’s clients.

I nearly fell over when Brian Tessier (Schneider Electric) began explaining their pilot to use blockchain to manage the process of onboarding new business partners.

I began mental flailing … “Why would you do that” … “Surely that’s the wrong tool for the job” … “What do they know that I don’t?”… By the end of the summit, it was clear to me that I needed to reframe my expectations around blockchain.

Blockchain, we have all heard about it, so what are its use cases, and what it means for you?

When people describe blockchain as open ledgers, or distributed ledgers, it reminds me of when people used to refer to the internet as the world wide web or information super highway, but in relation to blockchain. Blockchain is the underlying technology behind all cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum, but it’s much broader than that. It has a potential of changing the way we work and communicate, making it more secure, efficient, and trustworthy.

 

 

“Why the future is blockchain? So what are blockchain’s main advantages? By performing the functions of record keepers and managers it would enhance decentralisation, reduce the amount of intermediaries involved and provide an alternative to how value can be stored. Physical as well as digital assets could be uniquely verified online to prove ownership.

As transactions stored on the blockchain could be independently verified and traced, it would be easier to fight crime, counterfeiting and fraud, reducing systemic risk in the financial system. A distributed digital ledger would make it near impossible to change or falsify data, because data would have to be altered across all the related “blocks” in the digital chain, so any tampering would be exposed. Consequently associated costs would fall, enhancing economic growth and prosperity.“ ~ The Conversation

 

 

“Although there are multiple competing standards, the good news is for the most part the distribution of the blockchain mechanism, as far as the individual packages, most of them are underpin by open source code that lived against relatively similar frameworks. They are going to be crossed compatible. This technology is so fluid, everybody could get started developing in this platform tomorrow….. You can shape the future of this platform, we stand right now for what can potentially be the next internet, so I strongly recommend you and your businesses to grab the wheel and get in…..” ~ Brian Tessier, VP of Innovation, Schneider Electric

 

 

Where are we now? In 2016, Lora Cecera facilitated a workgroup to design and test new approaches, including testing of new technologies like cognitive computing, blockchain, open source analytics, and the Internet of Things. She shared her learning summarized in four main points 1) Hard to Get the Right People to the Table, 2) Detours/Potholes and Spiraled Learning, 3) Trust Coupled with Big and Hairy Data, and 4) Need for Ongoing Education. I couldn’t agree more with the fourth point as we need to adapt to the paradigm shift.

“One of the biggest benefits for the members of this group is learning and ideation on next-generation supply chain processes. It has been fun to facilitate this learning. To spice up the discussion, I brought the smartest technologists to the table to share insights on Open Source analytics, blockchain, IOT and cognitive computing. All of these technologies are moving at fast speeds with overhyped promises. To grasp the potential impact requires a paradigm shift in thinking. Supply chain teams used to thinking in batch processes, with fixed hierarchical representations using relational database models, need to change. The world of schema on read, blockchain, cryptocurrency, rules-based ontologies, streaming data architectures and cognitive computing is all new.” ~ Lora Cecere, Founder of Supply Chain Insights

 

Shift in Paradigms: Lora Cecere, Founder of Supply Chain Insights

 

At Prophit Systems, our research with blockchains and pilot work with the Australian Government, CSIRO’s Data61 has been valuable and tangible. We have been trialing using blockchains to provide proof of sourced materials. As materials are consumed and converted we are providing metadata around the usage, yield and process conditions that were applied during processing to associate the consumed material with the converted product and its new blockchain. The blockchain ledger can then confirm the origin of materials that were consumed in the transformed material.

Being immutable this ledger system offers a positive method to confirm the origin of materials, processes, and services that have been used in the provision of products.

What are your thoughts on blockchain? Any comments gladly appreciated.

Tim Gray

Prophit Systems

During The 2017 Supply Chain Insights “Imagine Supply Chain 2030 Global Summit” I found myself surprised and confused by a topic I felt I had a strong handle on. Having sponsored my own company’s R&D efforts in blockchain I thought I have a deep and clear understanding of how this [...] Read More...