Creating Supply chain reports is part of everyday life for distribution centers around the globe.  As these facilities become increasingly complex, the reporting and visibility required to manage them grows exponentially.  Your typical management personnel in established DC’s are baby boomers who have taken one of two paths from a technology perspective.

  1. Technology averse
    1. This type has learned to run MS office (entry level)
    2. May still type on a keyboard with a limited number of fingers
  2. Technology adaptive
    1. This type is comfortable with their computers, and may even be able to thumb type an email on their smart phone

As this group of managers and executives continues to retire, it opens pathways for a much more technologically adept group to run these operations buildings.

Supply chain operations in the omni-channel space have never been more complex.  Matching orders to supply has moved away from being an art and to a more fact based scientific approach. realm of art.  This is bad.  Executives need to make informed decisions quickly.  In today’s fast paced world of commerce, delivery and supply chain execution are more than just execution, but drive brand (Amazon for example).

I believe we are amidst a paradigm shift with regards to the information delivery mechanisms required to manage large, complex supply chains.

SCI Dashboard versus Report:

Recently in my career, I was asked to do a report consolidation project to provide a global view of inventory and Cycle Count aging details for a network of DC’s both in the US and abroad.  As we were going through the design phase, it was easy to get lulled into simply delivering the “tactical ask.” For each of these DC specific reports, we want to pull them together into a single report that can be driven by a parameter or a wildcard value.  I of course thought: “simple enough.”.  But before I got into the development lifecycle, I took the time to look through all of the reports that were going to be on the path to consolidation.  It occurred to me that this was really a better candidate for a deep dashboard versus just another series of reports.  So I got to work on a conceptual dashboard design and presented back to the business executives making the requests.

They were blown away!

It amazed them that they could have all of this information to support both day to day business activities as well as long term SOX requirements all in one place with interactive clicks to provide detail versus just running another report.

What I mean is this –  In the past they required a team of people to spend several hours a week compiling and organizing data, now in order to get that information, all that is required is clicking a hyperlink to take a macro global view, then drilling into regional details as needed to address compliance problems or gather specific data.  So, you say “big deal/so what?”.  Businesses are steadily moving away from a model where executives have assistants or teams of assistants to compile data and perform administrative tasks for them.  The new, younger, more technologically sophisticated executives want real time information available to them that allows “on the fly” decision making.  As our supply chains grow increasingly complex, the deep content dashboard will make obsolete the paper report the way the calculator made obsolete the abacus.

As our executives and managers continue to get more technologically sophisticated, this is going to become expected and will be the “new normal” in the BI/Analytics in the supply chain space.