Monthly Archives: June 2008

Free Content for Fair Use

As many of you know, the doctor is not your average blogger, but as many of you might not know, he is one of the few independent bloggers in the space that makes his living off of content generation, which include the blog posts created and published on this site (as well as the results of his content generation services). As a result, copyright, “fair use”, and “fair dealing” are very important to him and he gets quite upset when he finds content that is being used in a manner that flies in the face of “fair use” and “fair dealing“, such as when entire posts and articles are being copied without permission and passed off by another individual as their own or when big companies try to prevent “fair use” and either demand payment or threaten ridiculous legal action in situations that any reasonable person should deem “fair use”. Both of these have happened in the last week, and needless to say the doctor is not very happy. (Especially since he’s had to personally file two complaints with Google in four business days.)

In the first case, thanks to a tip from a fellow blogger, the doctor discovered the blog which had no less than 15 posts which were copied, in their entirety, from works of the doctor here on Sourcing Innovation or on e-Sourcing Forum, where the doctor guest posts regularly, without citation, reference, or link. Now, it doesn’t appear that this individual was trying to profit off of this blog (as many individuals who copy content in this manner often try to do), but a number of searches for content that should bring up Sourcing Innovation were bringing up that blog instead, on content I had written. But it didn’t stop there! After extensive research, I found posts that contained content, usually in its entirety, that appeared to have been originally published on over a dozen different blogs or in a dozen different publications, all without citation, reference, or link – on a blog where the author was remaining anonymous. To date, I have verified, through conversations, that at least six other bloggers and three editors at leading publications believe that their content has been republished without their consent in a manner that, in their opinion and mine, violates “fair use”. Of what was almost 300 posts, I was able to track down all but 40 to other sites, which had the same content with an earlier publication date! Needless to say, for-profit or not, when I find sites like this, I get very annoyed … especially when I am usually more than happy to allow others, who provide me the courtesy of a simple request (when required), to re-use my content, in full, for educational and non-profit purposes.

In the second case, the doctor heard that not only was the Associated Press filing a lawsuit (hat tip to Susan’s Web Logs Blog) against The Drudge Retort on claims that the blog violated fair use for publishing entries that contained fewer than 30 words from cited Associated Press articles, but that they were trying to force bloggers to pay them a fee if they quoted a mere 5 words! (Again, hat tip to Susan’s Web Logs Blog). the doctor writes sentences longer than that! It’s bloody ridiculous. I hope that someone, with the willingness to defend your rights just like the Electronic Frontier Foundation does on a regular basis, takes them to court over this (as my thoughts on the issue aren’t fit to print)!

It’s true that the doctor regularly covers works generated by third parties, including those published in third party publications, but anytime the doctor quotes content, whether or not it constitutes a significant amount of material with respect to “fair dealing” or “fair use”, he does his best to not only credit and reference the source, but to also provide a link to the original material, when available. And if he directly quotes an amount of material that some parties might consider significant, he does his best to ensure that he adds to the work considerably himself or keeps the total content to less than a small percentage of the overall work being referenced. Furthermore, he doesn’t make ridiculous complaints when he finds a large part of his material quoted on other blogs when the author has taken care to properly reference and cite the work at issue and to add to it in some way, even if he disagrees with the contents of the posting (just like he won’t delete any comment that follows the comment rules). (Summary: the doctor does his best not to be a hypocrite.)

Thus, even though the doctor gets very annoyed when content is used in a manner that flies in the face of “fair use” and “fair dealing”, the doctor believes that content should be free for “fair use”, and that those who create content should make an effort to insure that their content is free for “fair use”. To this end, the doctor will not only not bother you if you use his content in a way consistent with “fair use” and “fair dealing”, but is extending the following offer to almost anyone who wants it:


the doctor will seriously consider granting to almost anyone, on request, the right to reprint, or repost, up to five posts (authored by the doctor and posted on the Sourcing Innovation blog) in their entirety for educational purposes, regardless of whether or not you are an accredited public institution or a private for-profit company, as long as:

  • the posts you request are at least 30 days old (and authored by the doctor)
  • no fee of any kind will be charged for the reprints or reposts
  • the posts will not be used with the express intent of commercial gain
  • the posts are reprinted in whole or in contiguous, unaltered, part
  • full credit for authorship is attributed to the doctor
  • a permalink to the original post is included

To make your request, simply send an e-mail to the doctor at (thedoctor <at> sourcinginnovation <dot> com) and specify the following:

  • the posts (up to 5) that you are requesting to reprint or repost,
  • your name and contact information (company, e-mail, and telephone number),
  • the method in which you plan to reprint/republish the posts,
  • the audience you are hoping to educate, and
  • an assurance that no fee of any kind will be charged for the distribution of the reprints/reposts.

I will get back to you as soon as I can, but please allow up to five business days for a reply before resending your request. Thank you.

(Supply Chain) Risk is on the Rise … But You Can Do Something About It

A couple of months ago Marsh released a research report on Stemming the Rising Tide of Supply Chain Risks: How Risk Managers’ Roles and Responsibilities are Changing. Although it started off by telling us what we already know, that risk has risen substantially in global supply chains over the last three years, it served to quantify the extreme degree to which risk has risen, with 73% of companies experiencing an increased supply chain risk level and 71% of companies experiencing an increased financial impact from supply chain disruptions (based on a survey of 110 risk management professionals in January and February of 2008).

Furthermore, even though 35% reported that supply chain risk management was moderately effective at their company, not a single respondent said that their risk management practices were highly effective. And 24% said that they still have no formal process to address risk! Considering that a single supply chain disaster could force a company to file for bankruptcy (or at least bankruptcy protection) in today’s market, this is not a good situation!

In addition, the study did a good job of pointing out that natural disasters are not your biggest risk factors. According to the study, the four biggest risk factors were pricing risks, supplier (& supplier delay) risks, risks within your own plants, warehouses, and stores (which, I’d like to remind you, includes fraud risks), and logistics disruptions. Natural disasters are always a threat, but they’re relatively rare, whereas all of the other types of risk are constant.

But there are things you can do. You can:

  • take a strategic role in mobilizing the company against risks,
  • work with risk managers to ensure risk processes are designed cross-functionality and end-to-end (like good end-to-end e-Procurement), and
  • innovate.

And since innovators tend to be top performers, it’s always a great strategy. For more strategies for success, as well as steps you can take to become a top performer, I recommend checking out the full report (registration required). It’s definitely worth a read.

And for more information on risk management, be sure to check out the other posts on the topic here on the Sourcing Innovation blog, over on e-Sourcing Forum, and the wiki-paper on the e-Sourcing Wiki.

Workforce Management: A Servigistics Approach

Workforce Management, as defined by Wikipedia, is a business process that encompasses all the responsibilities for maintaining a productive and happy workforce. A workforce management solution is a software-based solution that optimally plans and dispatches field service technicians and their properly stocked vehicles to a customer’s location in a timely manner in order to deliver on their service commitments. Such a system will typically addresses demand management, workforce scheduling, workforce dispatching, and mobility solutions.

The workforce management solution offered by Servigistics, a Strategic Service Management Solution Provider (that was discussed last year in Tomorrow’s Strategic Service Management Today) addresses all of these points. Its workforce planning component forecasts workload to determine the appropriate workforce size, its scheduling engine can automatically set and adjust optimal assignments based upon available data and available rules and update those assignments in real-time if higher-priority service calls enter the system, its web-based appointment request feature allows customers to self-schedule, and its service mobility solution not only enables workforce communication, but allows the technicians to indicate where they are in the delivery cycle.

The scheduling engine is an advanced engine that can take into account dozens of variables that include contract / SLA type, service level, customer priority, ticket type, visit number, severity, customer inquiries, and age scores as well as transit times – which can be automatically computed based upon optimal routes computed by its GIS-aware engine that integrates with Google Maps. It allows the user to define priorities and scheduling rules and will take those into account in its computations. It also allows users to define alerts, such as a technician being stuck in traffic or a missed SLA because a technician wasn’t able to make the repair during the first visit. This not only allows the user to escalate the issue, but notify a customer when a technician might be late or unable to make the repair in the estimated time. (This, of course, goes a long way to keeping the customer satisfied as they know the service provider is working on the problem and keeping them up to date.) Furthermore, the scheduling engine is very effective in both its production and automatic update of schedules in real-time. In some deployments, the default schedules are usable as is by Servigistics’ customers, who include multi-billion dollar global enterprises (like Dell), as much as 98% of the time.

The view engine contains your classic GANTT chart view with drill down for details into specific tasks, but also supports map views with multiple filter options based on time period, priority, job type, and technician, among other factors. In addition, the job indicators can be color coded based on priority, whether or not they have been completed on time, or technician. This allows a support representative to quickly find jobs that might need to be escalated or reassigned. Finally, it allows jobs to be displayed in a grid, with user-defined detail columns.

The solution also supports multiple built-in report types and trend computations on multiple built-in dimensions such as resolution time, tickets closed, technician utilization, and overall performance. In addition, the solution integrates with their Command Center, their Knowledge Management Solution, and their Mobility Solutions which allows technicians to be more productive and keep their home office up to date on the status of the current service call.

Considering their success at a number of global multibillion dollar companies across IT, telecommunications, manufacturing, and automotive verticals, among others, and their recent updates in the real-time scheduling and mobility domains, it’s certainly worth a look if service is a large part of your offering.

(Logistics) Flux Management

No, this isn’t an article about Flux Capacitor management and how to keep your DeLorean in peak condition, but about managing in emerging and developing markets when rising labor costs, increasing transportation costs, and shifting demographics are constantly chancing the success equation in these markets.

The inspiration for this post is a recent article in Logistics Management by Bill Read and Michael Tse of Accenture who noted that emerging and developing markets like China and India will be the key battleground for the years ahead for those multinationals eager to grow in the ever changing global economy. The reality is that the emerging middle class in the fast growing markets in China, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines represent a significant opportunity for those companies poised to take advantage of global opportunities.

According to the article, mid-size companies need to build unique capabilities in four key areas in their efforts to ensure success:

  • Entry Strategy
    It’s not just about red-tape. Where are you going to get the resources and partners you need for success? Where are you going to launch? Chances are, the middle class aren’t just emerging in the tier one cities, but the tier two and tier three cities where populations are also exploding.
  • Channel Strategy
    The majority of people in countries like India, China, and Vietnam still reside in rural areas. Even though the countries are rapidly urbanizing, you could missing out on a large market segment if you just focus on the urban centers.
  • Supply Strategy
    How are you going to get your supplies and distribute your products? Building a new network from scratch can be a challenge – you’re likely going to need a local 3PL provider – but who?
  • Workforce Strategy
    Local talent is critical to the success of a market entry in Asia for a host of reasons, from language skills to market insight to just plain practicality. How are you going to attract and retain this local talent?

Each of these strategies is critical, and each comes with a host of questions that need to be answered. The article is definitely worth a read.

There’s No Excuse for Food Shortages in the Developed World! II

In our last post, I pointed out that not only does the developed world import more than enough food, but that it has the potential to produce sufficient food for the global population for years to come. The solution that I presented, at least in the mid-term, is quite simple:

  1. Stop Wasting Food
    The US wastes over 20B in food each year.
  2. Stop Wasting Food
    Poor quality monitoring leads to extremely wasteful recalls.
  3. Stop Wasting Food
    Way too much food is diverted to energy inefficient bio-fuel.
  4. Stop Wasting Food
    Crop yields are lower than they need to be globally because the right knowledge and technology takes too long to be applied.

But before you think all of the problems are caused by big business, and that only they need to be part of the solution, I should note that you’re also part of the problem, and part of the solution. So, what can you do?

  1. Stop Wasting Food
    Restaurant single-servings don’t have to be large enough to serve a small family.
  2. Stop Wasting Food
    Leftovers aren’t just for compost.
  3. Stop Wasting Food
    “Prepared foods” generate large amounts of waste.

We all know the saying that “Everything’s Bigger in Texas” (and, in many ways it is), but what we don’t know is that no phrase has created more waste in the food industry than this one. Once restaurants started fighting on portion-size, offering up standard serving sizes that even a northern lumberjack would have trouble finishing, food waste skyrocketed. It’s estimated that as much as 50% of all waste dumped by a restaurant in a garbage bin is food. An average North American eats out 4 times a week, or 20% of the time. This says that the food service industry accounts for roughly 20% of food. If 50% of that is wasted, then the food industry wastes 10% of available food – or, as a whole, they are as bad as our retailers! If we as consumers stopped going to restaurants that served larger portions than we are going to eat, forcing them to either serve portions that were less likely to result in waste or go out of business, we could have a major impact.

I’m sure you’re saying “I put left-overs in the fridge”, and I’m sure you do, but do you eat them? Or do they sit there until they’re discovered growing a new species of mold a month later, and then hit the compost pile. As a fellow Haligonian points out, if you properly label food, understand that even mushy fruits and vegetables are still edible (and good for soups), and don’t buy or prepare more food than you can eat before it hits its expiry date, you can minimize your waste. And as for compost, if you mulch when you mow, and re-use your yard waste, you don’t really need that much!

The hot new trend, as noted by Scott Feschuk in a recent opinion piece in MacLeans is buying prepared meals from the grocery store that are ready to eat in minutes (or seconds). Just open them, pop them in the microwave and a-way you go. Now, TV Dinners have been around for a while, but they’re not the problem. (They are a problem, just of a different sort.) The problem is stuff like pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crust cut off. (What happened to the crust?) And store made offerings that lead to food waste when it doesn’t sell by the accelerated best-before date. At least at major food processing plants, if things are set up and run properly, food deemed unsuitable for sale to humans can often be converted into animal feed, which prevents it from being wasted. But at smaller plants and local supermarkets, if you’re lucky it just goes into the compost. If you’re not, it goes into the dumpster. So make the PB&J yourself – the nineteen seconds you spend popping the tops, spreading the peanut butter and jam, and screwing the tops back on really does help the planet – and the people on it.