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Technology Addressing the Convergence of Internet of Things and Smart Manufacturing

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As a follow-up to Supply Chain Matters recent attendance and coverage of this year’s Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience Conference, we wanted to specifically follow-up on some sessions that addressed Internet of Things (IoT) enablement of future smart manufacturing, supply chain and service management business processes.

Noted in many of our prior blog commentaries related to IoT deployment strategies, many businesses are starting to connect the dots relative to the existing wave of new advanced technologies that can literally allow connecting physical things with digitally focused applications, processes, and new business services. Included are the notions of what is commonly described as Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, enabled by more sophisticated sensors, additive manufacturing, new iterations of analytics and data management. The common objective is convergence- a convergence of operational technologies along with data management, business applications software and decision-support technologies working together in an integrated real-time manner.

When this author presents or speaks with supply chain management focused audiences, I often describe the objective as what I once termed as the “holy grail” of supply chain management, our ability to connect the physical and the digital, now coming much closer to reality.

In Oracle’s approach to supporting customer IoT transformation, multiple speakers emphasized the importance of the overall IT architecture strategies required in addressing the different needs at the physical layer (the machines), and the digital applications layer of applications and information needs. We cannot stress how important these strategies and approaches have been addressed in multiple conferences and discussions we have been involved in. The obvious most important consideration is the management of data at each level.

At the physical layer, data is purely operational in nature. We are talking about sensor readings, alarms, state conditions, fault detection and all sorts of other operational data. As emphasized in prior highlights of a recent MIT IoT focused conference, engineers are fully aware that much of this data can be spurious, perhaps upwards of 60 percent. On the other hand, the remaining data can point to important and insightful information when placed in context with other data. The Oracle presentations cited sample classes of questions related to the era of “Smart Manufacturing”:

Are there patterns of events that tend to cause or lead to actual equipment failures?

Is there a correlation between product failures in the field and the manufacturing process originally used to manufacture that product?

Can we predict the likelihood of a product defect and avoid costly downtime?

Many developers on the front lines of current IoT initiatives will readily tell you that the challenges related to filtering and capturing the correct physical data, whether structured, unstructured or time-series in-nature are hard, but not insurmountable. A current reality is that most physical or operational assets currently reside behind a data-protected firewall, for valid reasons. As we have noted in prior commentaries, developers cite consistent and secure data management standards as well as combinations of encryption technologies as the means to unlock data discovery across various layers. Oracle emphasizes the need for a robust and scalable technology foundation supported by an open standard, in-memory, Hadoop data lake approach that supports three distinct data types in a secure manner.

A further critical aspect often includes distinct data aggregation at both the physical and digital application layers, each aggregation providing added contextualization to overall intelligence and required decision-making. Managing all this data needs to further include a more cost effective approach, and that is where the advantages of Cloud-based deployment and storage strategies play an important consideration.

Some of our functional or IT readers who experienced prior IT data warehouse approaches can well relate to the frustrations for the ability of various functional users to mine or discover data on their own without the direct assistance of IT. We were pleased to observe that Oracle’s approach is anchored to presenting of data to differing personas or business roles, ranging from that of occasional or frequent business user or domain expert, to an actual data scientist.

The Oracle presenters cited a jam or jelly manufacturing process as an example of the goal of actionable manufacturing intelligence that was developed for a pilot customer:

What most everyone has today is an operational report of what has occurred, namely descriptive analytics. For example, 68 percent of batches of strawberry jam made in July, incurred a production yield of between 78-82 percent.

The goal is actionable intelligence supported by more prescriptive or predictive data and analytics. In the same example, the 68 percent of batches of 78-82 percent production yield:

  • Occurred during the second shift and involved a common operator
  • The sugar utilized came from specific identified lots from a specific supplier(s)
  • The mixer speed variation was in a certain range and ambient humidity reading but did encounter some discernable variations.

This added context of the data provides the intelligence as well as determinants to manage higher manufacturing yields or identify potential production issues in a timelier manner.  These are the notions of mining the data, that can be applied to many other supply chain related business processes or business model support needs, many of which can save substantial amounts and open many new opportunities for equipment services.

A final observation relates to current IoT approaches and pilot efforts perhaps being investigated. In the many technology and industry perspectives we have reviewed or encountered, it is important to stress that teams evaluate prospective IoT technology vendors not only on the specific technology approaches and capabilities they provide, but also on the partner ecosystem they recruit and support, along with actions to adapt and support an open standards approach for data security as well as data maintenance.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

 


Supply Chain Matters Attendance at Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience Conference- Part Five Summary Impressions

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Supply Chain Matters has been attending the Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience conference being held this week in San Jose California, drawing over 2800 attendees.  OracleSCME_2

In our Part One posting, we provided some highlights from the first’s day’s keynotes.

On our Part Two posting, we shared impressions of the Oracle S&OP Cloud application currently in-development.

Our Part Three posting provided highlights of the second day’s keynotes that were focused on future dimensions of transformation.

In Part Four, I shared impressions related to supply chain related transformation, and how this conference again reinforced the increased external forces of change impacting many industry supply chains.

In this final conference wrap-up commentary, we share, in no particular order, our takeaway impressions from the various sessions and conversations we were able to participate in this week.

Let’s begin with attendance, namely upwards of 2800 attendees at a supply chain management information technology focused conference. That ladies and gentlemen, is quite extraordinary and significant.  And yes, for those cynics out there, not all wore Oracle on their conference badge. Our sense from various conference Q&A and attendee indicators during sessions, many came to learn and better educate their organizations on Oracle’s evolving platform and applications strategies related to the broad umbrella of processes within supply chain management and to the implications of Cloud.

While we once were critical of Oracle regarding our perception of a slow, somewhat glacial development pace involving Oracle SCM Cloud, this week’s event demonstrated much more momentum that is underway, including the new Cloud S&OP application highlighted in our Part Two commentary. Attendees were informed that over 1300 customers are now on various transition paths involved with Oracle SCM Cloud, which is a doubling of last year’s number. Attendees further witnessed a real-time manifestation of the development release dynamic in one of the on-stage keynotes.  Oracle CEO Safra Katz was featured in a fireside chat format, and among her many remarks to the audience, she indicated that one of the company’s key strategic goals was to implement Oracle SCM Cloud within the company’s hardware manufacturing operations by the end of this calendar year. To that end, she indicated her view that development has to deliver at faster pace. That should have resonated with IT and systems implementation attendees. When joined onstage by Cindy Reese, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations, both acknowledged a little sweating and concern to make the December implementation milestone, but that in the end, it will get done. We highlight this since we felt attendees should have perceived that even Oracle internal operations teams are not immune to new technology implementation and change management dynamics. Reese indicated to the audience that her teams needed the Cloud based technology because they could not execute required supply chain process changes needing to get done with the existing Oracle E-Business Suite capabilities. “The architecture is so much simpler than EBS and the built-in analytics of Cloud is a huge benefit for our supply planners.  It’s a game changer.”

Supply Chain Matters will keep a keen eye on Oracle’s own implementation and hopefully have some added updates for readers.

We sat in on an Oracle Procurement solution roadmap update session and learned that Oracle will begin to partner with E2open in extending procurement process needs across a B2B network. In fact, there was another session at the conference to educate attendees on the initial phases. This is noteworthy and bears watching.

We planned our agenda to attend as many customer focused sessions as we could. Besides the theme of increased external business change that we shared in Part Four, we noted further common themes reflecting that upgrading of existing behind-the-firewall applications has indeed been determined to be too disruptive for many supply chain organizations. That has led to the motivation of customers to begin to either pilot elements of SCM Cloud, begin efforts to develop strategies for phasing into Cloud, or gather more education and feedback from Oracle customers and partners on best strategies to take advantage of what Cloud can provide over the coming months. This is different than last year’s conference in that customers appear to be more engaged in various levels of active interest. Obviously, this implies a critical phase for Oracle in assuring that pilot customers have what they need to insure successful current and future phases of SCM Cloud.

One of the albeit, indirect benefits of Oracle’s full embodiment of Cloud is the development work being performed in improving the user level productivity and interfaces of existing licensed Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Procurement, and Oracle Advanced Supply Chain Planning (ASCP) applications.  Most all the roadmap sessions we attended regarding these application suites made mention of improved user interfaces and user productivity enhancements. They occurred because a lot of the functionality had to be moved to Cloud instances as well, which implied needs to improve both. Such efforts were further high on the priority lists of Oracle customer advisory teams, and hopefully, will yield a win-win for both camps.

This author was impressed with Oracle’s ongoing efforts to provide deeper analytics and more predictive decision making support features in many of the Cloud based applications. This is bound to pay dividends for customers.

Before closing this Modern Supply Chain Conference impressions commentary, we would be remiss in not complimenting Oracle’s SCM conference planning team in once again, granting the opportunity for more than 120 university students majoring in supply chain management to attend and participate in a Future Supply Chain Leaders tract of sessions. This year, an invitation was also extended to select students from Design Tech High School, a free public charter high school, authorized by the San Mateo Union High School District, that includes co-sponsorship from Oracle and eventual physical presence on the Oracle headquarters campus. We declared last year that this was a great way to garner interest levels in careers in supply chain management and we again urge other tech providers to consider such efforts.

Oracle CEO Safra Katz also chaired a Woman in Supply Chain Management luncheon, and we heard some great feedback regarding the value of that event.

Conference organizers should further be complimented in taking to heart attendee feedback from previous year’s events. They asked for more customer focused educational sessions and more opportunities for peer networking and exchange. Again, from our observations, that seem to be accomplished. We were also a bit tired of previous endless sessions of a solution marketing context. This year’s sessions were more advisory and educational.

We leave the conference with upwards of 20 pages of notes, and we will continue to feature more Oracle focused blog commentaries on a monthly cadence.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

 


Supply Chain Matters Attendance at Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience Conference- Part Four

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This week, Supply Chain Matters has been attending the Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience conference being held in San Jose California, drawing over 2800 attendees. Oracle_MSCE_Jan_16

In our Part One posting, we provided some highlights from the first’s day’s keynotes.

On our Part Two posting, we shared impressions of the Oracle S&OP Cloud application currently in-development.

Our Part Three posting provided highlights of the second day’s keynotes that were focused on future dimensions of transformation.

My goal in this update is to share my updated impressions related to current needs for supply chain related transformation.

As our Supply Chain Matters readers are probably aware, this industry analyst and Editor has be afforded the opportunity to attend many supply chain management focused conferences, either industry or technology focused. This week’s Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience conference is no exception.

At many of such conferences, supply chain team leaders often describe various key learning derived from transformation or business change initiatives. Many exhibit very consistent and all-important themes such as insuring top-management sponsorship, a strong emphasis on change management or addressing process and data before layering advanced technology.

Of late, I have noticed a further learning, one that I can best describe as external or outside-in forces that compel the need for change at a far different pace of change.

Let me further explain.

A number of supply chain industry analysts often communicate the notions of supply chain transformation from people-process-technology dimensions at various levels of defined maturity. The so-termed phases of supply chain maturity charts are what I reference. Four or five phased, they all have common purpose. They often serve as a meaningful way for helping industry supply chain teams chart their transformation end-goal visions as well as benchmark a current state of organizational maturity. While such maturity charting can serve as a tool for change, it can sometimes transmit a message that continuous improvement is ok, or that taking pause at a given phase is acceptable. I worry aloud about such notions since some analysts, are not addressing the building external pressures within many industry settings that are now being communicated.

What’s different about today’s needs for transformation?

Read any business journal of late and the words economic and business uncertainty are stark and all too common. The global economy struggles to grow 3 percent annually, the U.S. and Europe a mere 2 percent. The Economist recently questioned whether global wide market presence and consequent global stretched supply chains may be faltering due to increased complexities and cost.

Individual businesses have shareholders demanding near-term returns and profitability for their investment and it seems that no business is immune from the force of activist investors. CEO’s have no choice but to prioritize efforts at growing top-line revenue growth, adopting new, more profitable digitally based business models while continuing to reduce business costs.  Growth is often translated to acquisition. Oracle senior executive Mark Hurd has been masterful in communicating such trends to CEO audiences.

Cost reduction motivates needs for restructuring or the flattening of organizational layers. If readers have had the opportunity to review our 2017 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains, you are now aware that a whole new dimension of geopolitical uncertainty and business risk are prominent in the coming months.

What I hear of late is a new consistent theme of an external force for change. Our business has a new CEO with a mandate for transformation. Our business executed a merger and acquisition that introduced even more supply chain process and technology complexity. Regarding the latter, complexity is leading to more inefficiency and added costs. We are lacking the right data and information and our S&OP and operational decision-making processes are not keeping up with the current pace of business change.

The bottom-line is that the pace of transformation may no longer be as optional as it once was. Organizations may have little choice but to increase the pace of transformational change and supply chain leaders are expected to lead such efforts at a quicker cadence, albeit sometimes at an uncomfortable pace. That is why the notions of Cloud based applications and more leveraged use of digital advanced technologies such as analytics and IoT are gaining increased interest and senior management sponsorship. Consider that 2800 attendees are gathering at this supply chain management technology focused conference, often with needs to gain more learning and education as to new software and information management technologies.

We as analysts need to communicate supply chain transformative process maturity measures in dimensions of internal or external forces of change. The former having some timing discretion, the latter not so much. We need to remind teams that crisis is often the best motivator and mandate for an organization’s need for change. Industry supply chain teams face a building talent crisis yet beg for training resources. Our supply chain leaders of tomorrow are less tolerant for complexity and far more-savvy in the leveraged use of technology in their everyday lives and in conducting work. They embrace teamwork and team based problem solving. If your organization is laggard in talent development, your industry competitor will seize the opportunity with trained talent.

Finally, a message to technology providers. Some our communicating that now is the time for fostering innovation and new business models.  Some, such as Oracle, communicate the implications of millennial workers in their interaction with technology and decision-making. All of this is fine, but do not at all, dilute the reality that industry supply chains must continue efforts in reducing costs and complexity while increasing productivity.

External forces of change surround, and supply chain teams are now communicating those forces of external change.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

 

 


Supply Chain Matters Attendance at Oracle Modern Supply Chain Conference- Part Three

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Supply Chain Matters has been attending the Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience conference being held in San Jose California and drawing over 2800 attendees.

In our Part One posting, we provided some highlights from the first’s day’s keynotes.

On our Part Two posting, we shared impressions of the Oracle S&OP Cloud application currently in-development.    Oracle MSCE Feb_17

Day two kicked-off with two mind-provoking keynotes that focused on futures of technology, organization and industry supply chains.

Yuri van Geest is described as a passionate professional, author, international keynote speaker and entrepreneur on exponential emerging technologies and the founder of Singularity University. Geest is co-author of the bestselling book, Exponential Organizations which describes fundamentally new ways startups and corporates are organized internally and externally to deal with disruption, exponential technologies and accelerated change. This is the first book by Singularity University Press globally.

As a result of accelerating technology change, a new breed of businesses is scaling ten times faster than established organizational structures. Yuri terms these as “Exponential Organizations.” His message was that the best vision of the future is happening in the peripherals of technology maturation. They include technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, additive manufacturing and 3D printing, sensors and drones. Each of these technologies are maturing rather dramatically in a cost vs. functionality dimension.

He predicted that evolving Blockchain technology provides both a trust protocol and the potential to automate transactional flow across the entire supply chain providing open and transparent transactional based visibility. Quantum computing technology can run 100 times faster than today’s standard computers. He declared that the half-time of IT competency has dropped to only two years. Think about that in the context that the average legacy ERP or specialized supply chain support application can be upwards of 10-15 years old.

According to von Geet, the notions of the Exponential Organization is one that exhibits eleven characteristics of shared values consisting of hard and soft skill competencies. He viewed exponential organizations as creating new jobs, but in totally different skill dimensions and leadership traits.

Our best description of this talk was that of mind-boggling and though provoking, requiring a lot of self-thought in terms of skills preparedness.

The second portion of today’s keynote tract was a supply chain thought leadership panel moderated by Roddy Martin, Oracle’s new Vice President, SCM Cloud Product Marketing. Three panelists included:

  • Karl Braitberg, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Systems Operations for Oracle
  • Stuart Whiting, Senior Vice president, Logistics and Network Design, Schneider Electic
  • John Gattorna, Supply Chain Thought Leader

Panelists described their impressions of current industry supply chains along with insights as to what is required for accelerating transformation to integrated people-process and technology capabilities.  Some insights shared included:

  • Customers as well as talent drive supply chains. Good leaders understand their markets and their customers.
  • Create and foster an end vision supported by common rewards and incentives.
  • Recruit people based on talent potential, those that exhibit passion
  • Failure is good- leverage as a learning
  • Be clear about your end goal but know that the path will often vary
  • The only way to resolve supply chain complexity is to deeply understand customer needs.
  • A metaphor that supply chains are to, many organizations, the central nervous system, with many dependent layers, and should be viewed and managed in this context.
  • Fast-track supply chain transformation, otherwise the forces of darkness will eventually get you.

In our next two commentaries, we will provide highlights from many of the great sessions that we managed to attend. This author will further share updated impressions of the changing nature of insights and lessons being learned that are now being described by supply chain team leaders, both in this and other recent conferences as-well.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

 


Supply Chain Matters Attendance at Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience- Part Two

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Supply Chain Matters has been attending the Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience conference being held in San Jose California and drawing over 2800 attendees.

In our Part One posting, we provided some highlights from the first’s day’s keynotes.

In this particular posting, we wanted to highlight for readers, Oracle’s evolving efforts to develop a Cloud-based application dedicated to supporting a firm’s Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) and Integrated Business Planning (IBP) processes which remain challenging areas for many companies, particularly in the current highly uncertain multi-industry business environments.

Candidly, Oracle itself has been somewhat of a laggard in developing a fully Cloud-based application to support these processes. Multiple best-of-breed supply chain planning technology providers have come to market with dedicated S&OP/IBP applications that are either behind-the-firewall or Cloud based. Similarly, other ERP providers such as SAP have announced such dedicated applications, but in the context of multi-year roadmaps of broader IBP based functionality.

After attending a particular conference session: Sales and Operations Planning Cloud: An In-Depth Look, this analyst walked away with the perception that perhaps being a laggard, can provide advantages as to what technology really needs to do to support today’s challenging needs in these process areas.

Co-presenter’s Kevin Elder and Michael Liebson stressed to attendees that Oracle’s development to this new application was a built from the ground-up effort, designed to leverage the best of Cloud-platform technology, along with the technology best practices garnered from Oracle’s existing ASCP and Demantra software technology offerings. The primary difference stressed was that development had a clean slate in its business process architectural and functionality approach.

Included was the perspective that S&OP should be a forward-looking process (outside-in perspective) focused on execution of strategy. The process should be scenario or simulation driven, grounded with the best available analytics and market insights, with a need to support enterprise-wide, cross-functional alignment to include financial business plans and objectives.

The presenter’s stressed Oracle’s S&OP Cloud application is anchored in a collection of Align-Analyze-Act process capabilities with the goal of providing businesses “out-of-the-box” best practice capabilities in managing their alignment processes. That would include built-in support for the five broad process stages of S&OP that can be supported by advanced planning and simulation technology along with the ability to leverage enterprise-level social collaboration tools to provide a genealogy of decision-making steps among all process participants.

A demo of the application featured the various best-practice dashboards, KPI’s and reports available for each S&OP stage. Planning capabilities include the ability to plan at different product levels but the process itself is anchored in high-level product plans, with drill-downs to more detailed levels as needed by the process. Rapid, on-the-fly scenario and simulation planning capabilities are featured to support the ability to run alternative demand and/or supply plans, along with the ability to iterate needed decisions among process participants to make any given scenario plan the ability to be the new supply chain resource plan.

This author was further impressed with the interoperability capabilities of this application. That was described as tight integration with existing Oracle Planning Central, Demand Management and Supply Planning applications. In the audience Q&A, the obvious question of interoperability with non-Oracle systems was asked. The response was yes; that the application can be architected with Oracle’s other Cloud platform capabilities that integrate various existing non-Oracle enterprise applications.

The Oracle S&OP Cloud application is currently scheduled for release to customers this summer. We venture an opinion that there will be a lot of customer and market-wide interest in this particular application.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.


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