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Supply Chain Matters Highlights of Connected Things 2017 Conference

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This supply chain management industry analyst recently had the opportunity to attend the Connected Things 2017- Accelerating the Adoption & impact of IoT for People, Places & Things conference, sponsored by the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge.  This Supply Chain Matters posting shares key highlights, observations, and insights this author gained from the various sessions.

This was a one-day conference designed to exchange the latest thought leadership and information exchange regarding the current state of Internet of Things (IoT) technology strategy and deployment. The conference, as noted in the dedicated conference web page, included a format of keynote presentations from senior technology executives and market influencers along with seven different panel discussions directed at key IoT challenges and topics. MIT Connect Things 2017_2

From this author’s lens, the content was outstanding and very timely, and brought forward consistent themes related to this growing area of technology interest. Judging from the overflow crowd of conference attendees traveling from different regions and just before a forecasted major snowstorm across the New England region, IoT is obviously a top-of-mind topic within many an industry setting, including industry supply chains.

The opening keynote delivered by Harel Kodesh, Vice President, Predix and CTO, GE Digital provided a very timely context for how a manufacturing company such as General Electric is aggressively moving toward a journey to be an Industrial Internet and digital transformation company. This blog has provided several prior commentaries related to GE Digital and its development and rollout of the Predix operating system, and Kadesh’s keynote brought this all together. As an example, GE declares that it will have upwards of 68,000 of its jet engines and 10,000 turbines connected by Predix in three years. Another GE Digital initiative looks to railway locomotives serving as a “data center on wheels” in areas of data sharing not only on equipment and train operation but on the sensing and reporting of rail right of way data, such as the condition of agricultural farms and fields. An important key message reinforced by GE is that upwards of up to 40 percent of operational performance data generated by equipment is spurious, subject to cleansing or deletion. That reinforces the need for the Edge level, or as GE refers to the Digital Twin system, to serve as an actual data rationalization compute mode. We view this as a very important consideration for any form of supply chain or service management focused IoT digital transformation initiative.

The keynote from David Friend, CEO of BlueArchive, and former founder of Cloud storage provider Carbonite, provided clear reinforcement that Cloud based data storage will indeed transform to a utility model in the not too distance future. The current impediment is a generally accepted standard data exchange API for IoT driven processes to integrate with.  Friend’s remarks further reinforced the need for operational data cleansing at the Edge layer, along with today’s overriding concerns for increased data security standards as well as increased data speeds across all the levels involved in an IoT deployment. As an example, Carbonite today manages 500 million storage requests daily.

SAP executive Alan Southall, Vice President and Head of SAP IoT Predictive Maintenance, reinforced that engineers currently do not trust raw data emanating from an asset, and that SAP recently launched SAP Leonardo to be an IoT platform data management system to manage and mitigate semantic data flows from the physical asset to actual business applications. (This analyst recently received an SAP briefing regarding SAP Leonardo design and capabilities) SAP is further working with pilot customers on areas such as machine learning, as well as automated analytics. Southhall also reinforced the message that Edge systems require military grade data security.

We managed to sit-in on three separate panel discussions including one focused on IoT Analytics, Industry 4.0 impacts on legacy industries and the all-important, physical, and cyber security viewpoints.

Regarding an IoT analytics framework, we sensed a consensus viewpoint outlining a tiered analytics strategy, with smart assets and connected devices managing local processing and Cloud-based platforms serving as additional data aggregators and insights engine at high levels of more predictive event context. Regarding the long-term impact of analytics, panelists concurred that industry transitions are already underway but additional challenges need to be addressed in how to better automate data consolidation and aggregation, and yes, the need for more comprehensive network-wide data security practices and standards. Noted was that a lot of industry development right now is focused on Edge systems, namely decisions needing to be made at the machine or manufacturing layer, an initial step in helping organizations to be prepared for later enterprise-wide, IoT digital transformation efforts. A reality remains that most machine-level data resides in industrial environments primarily protected behind-the-firewall.

We were very pleased to hear one panelist declare: “Don’t give me more data- give me smarter data.”

One other theme expressed on this blog in multiple prior commentaries, is the belief that, like other data-focused technology automation transformations of the past such as RFID adoption, ultimate ownership of data remains a big challenge yet to be sorted out. For instance, original equipment manufacturers or digital services providers are positioning strategies based on aggregation and ownership of equipment data for business process management or digital transformation business model needs, while data generators of the equipment declare that actual customers already own such data.  One example mentioned by a panelist is within agriculture settings, where seed providers have been collecting vast amounts of data to provide managed services related to crop yields, while not making such data available to the same specific farms without a bundled service.  In our blog commentaries, we have portended similar conflicts yet to play out in industries such as commercial aircraft, where airlines will claim ownership of their own operational performance data.  Obviously, a period of transition and sorting out must evolve.

Again, this was a beneficial and informative conference addressing a transformative but still young technology with more iterations to come.  Conferences such as these helps in cutting through some of the hype, focusing on key challenges and needs, while providing learning from those in multiple roles of moving such transformation forward.

Bob Ferrari

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


A Conversation with Tata Consultancy Services Global Supply Chain Practice and Center of Excellence

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While attending the Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience conference a few weeks ago, this Editor had the opportunity to once again catch-up with Rich Sherman, a long friend. Rich has been a guest contributor of thought leadership content on Supply Chain Matters and is author of the book: Supply Chain Transformation- Practical Roadmap to Best Practice Results. Rich now serves as a Senior Fellow, Global Supply Chain Practice & Centre of Excellence (GSCP&CoE) at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

Some of our readers may be familiar with TCS’s efforts in supply chain management. Practice areas include:

  • Supply chain strategy including strategic assessments (data driven for both maturity and digital), and supply chain segmentation strategy support.
  • Planning as-a-Service including Integrated Business Planning strategy and technology deployment.
  • Source to Pay and Logistics and Fulfillment business process support.
  • Digital Supply Chain and Factory of the Future process support.
  • Service Management operational support.
  • Supply Chain Applications – of course, at OMSCE TCS touted its platinum partnership with Oracle for cloud and supply chain applications. However, TSC has partnerships for implementation and support for all of the major supply chain application vendors.

 

I was surprised to learn that the TCS GSCP&CoE now includes over 350 supply chain management domain experts supported by upwards of 3000 IT strategy, applications, and solutions implementation staff resources. Rich informed me that the TCS GSCP&CoE has been engaged in over 150 consulting engagements over the past two years, and further has become a generator of supply chain thought leadership for clients.

In our conversation, Rich and I touched upon a few of the current burning topics and current initiatives that are common across various industry supply chains. They include:

  • Omnichannel Fulfilment and end to end Supply Chain Control Towers
  • Integrated Business Planning beyond traditional S&OP with integration into execution
  • The Digital Supply Network and advanced manufacturing methodologies such as additive manufacturing (3D Printing assessments) for the Factory of the Future
  • as a service” and cloud based operations
  • Advanced Analytics including assessments, Artificial Intelligence, and Cognitive Analytics for analytics maturity lifecycle management

While the GSCP&CoE focuses on supply chain management consulting, they also tap into other business units for even deeper specialization. As an example, each of TCS’ industry business units have industry supply chain domain experts. TCS’ Analytics & Insights unit has more than 5000 data scientists (including Ph.D’s and even M.D.’s) using all of the available business intelligence tools to provide clients with highly advanced analytics including predictive and prescriptive analytics and insights. TCS’ Engineering and Industrial Services supports customized engineering services such as 3D printing assessments, design, and implementation as well as robotics and advanced manufacturing and material handling systems. Business Process Services provides outsourced operations across the enterprise and supply chain.

As always, it was intriguing to speak with Rich on the transformation of the supply chain into the “connected commerce” age and the maturing of digital technologies. It was also interesting to hear about the TCS that I didn’t know about and hope that now you also know.

Bob Ferrari

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


Updated Research Advisory- The New Phase of Online and Omni-Channel Customer Fulfillment

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From time-to-time as developments warrant throughout the year, we have published various succinct but brief research advisories to clients and blog readers focused on specific industry, line-of-business, functional or technology trending that warrant specific attention for both management teams and supply chain management professionals.  hands-typing-4

There have been several phases related to the ongoing explosion of online commerce and its impact on traditional retail and B2C focused industry supply chains. In August of 2016, we published the research advisory: The Beginning of a New Phase of Online and Omni-Channel Fulfillment for B2C and Retail Supply Chains, where we cited the beginning of the newest phase, namely impacting the long-term presence of brick and mortar retail and the accelerated need for more agility from supporting supply chains.

Our August 2016 Advisory outlined the tenets and impacts for the beginning of a new phase of an omni-channel driven retail business model. With the increasing results and implications from traditional retailers throughout 2016, we have now updated our advisory to reflect evidence that indeed, a new phase is underway and comes with many implications for the industry’s supply chains.

Consumer preferences and desires have permanently changed in retail, and online platforms and consumer loyalty programs such as that of Amazon are rapidly garnering consumer loyalty and dependence.

Supply Chain Matters and Ferrari Consulting and Research Group clients can now download our updated March 2017 advisory: The New Phase of Online and Omni-channel Fulfillment for B2C and Retail Supply Chains. This report is now available for complimentary downloading in our Research Center by providing basic user registration information.

We reiterate that all research download information is utilized solely for our internal tracking needs and will not be sold or made available to third parties.

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 Coverage of Oracle’s Modern Supply Chain Experience Conference- Part One

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This afternoon marked the opening keynotes of the Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience conference that is expected to draw over 2800 attendees.

Rick Jewell, Oracle Senior Vice President for Supply Chain Applications Development kicked-off the event with his presentation titled: The Adaptive Intelligent Supply Chain Cloud. In this presentation, Jewell re-iterated a number of supply chain predictions relative to digital supply chain transformation and on Oracle’s current efforts in development of the Oracle SCM Cloud suite of applications. Release 13 of the SCM Cloud Suite is expected this summer.

Jewell then moderated a customer panel consisting of:

Jeff Abbott, Vice-President, Supply Chain and Logistics, Sears Canada Inc.

Debi Hanes, CIO Supply Chain, General Electric Global Operations

Emre Kusce, Supply Chain Engineer, Transit Wireless

Chris Nerf, Senior Director, Supply Chain, NCR

Each panelist described their business motivations for adopting elements of Oracle SCM Cloud, along with important lessons learned that would be of interest to the conference audience. The session, from this analyst’s lens, provided rather important learnings which Supply Chain Matters will dwell further upon in a subsequent posting

Jewell further took this opportunity to announce Oracle’s upcoming new applications supporting Internet of Things (IoT) Cloud capabilities. This announcement includes expanding its Internet of Things (IoT) portfolio with four new cloud applications to help businesses fully utilize the benefits of digital supply chains. The applications are being designed to enable businesses to detect, analyze, and respond to IoT signals and incorporate these insights into existing and rapidly evolving market capabilities.

Applications will include:

IoT Asset Monitoring Cloud: being designed to monitor assets, utilization, availability, and data from connected sensors and creates incidents in the backend SCM, ERP, or Service Clouds to automate workflows’

IoT Connected Worker Cloud: designed to tracks employees to support safety, service, and regulatory compliance initiatives.

IoT Fleet Monitoring Cloud: Monitors position and progress of passenger, service, and transportation delivery vehicles and driver-behavior.

IoT Production Monitoring Cloud: designed to monitor production equipment to assess and predict manufacturing issues.

This supply chain industry analyst had the opportunity to attend a conference pre-session held by three Oracle development executives that briefed a standing-room only audience on these upcoming applications.

According to the executives, the overall strategy for Oracle is to support five dimensions of supply chain visibility that include market, partner, enterprise asset and social visibility needs. They described Oracle’s unique approach to IoT, namely to bring together structured, semi-structured and unstructured information to support the convergence of operational technology (OT) systems and IT business applications. The approach leverages Oracle’s prior acquisitions of select data analytics tech providers as Oracle’s newly announced Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) platform along with its existing Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms. A design principle emphasized was how to get access to OT data while managing this data in a cost-effective storage and hardware approach.  The design approach makes use of supporting a streaming data lake strategy that leverages open source Hardoop running in the background.

Release of this new compliment of Oracle’s IoT cloud applications is expected later this year.

This afternoon’s keynotes included a fairly interesting presentation delivered by K.S. Khurana, Vice President, Sourcing and Engineering Operations at Facebook. He opened his talk with the obvious question, why would a senior Facebook infrastructure development executive be presenting at a supply chain management conference. The answer became fairly obvious 10-15 minutes later after Khurana outlined Facebook’s strategies in the planning, forecasting and acquiring the social media’s giant’s own uniquely designed data center hardware and networking needs while supporting the explosive growth to support data management needs with a fixed staff of 600 operations personnel.

Bob Ferrari

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

 


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