A recent article over on the Technology Evaluation Centers site on mobile supply chain management: the dream is becoming reality started off by making a great point — ultra-portability still means restricted ease of use and functionality, and even though the release of the iPad by Apple last year began a hardware revolution that opens up a new horizon for supply chain management (SCM) systems for businesses, it’s going to take a while before tablets become common place in the supply chain. While possibilities are opening up for mobile devices now that we’re seeing true touch-screen tablets hit the marketplace, we have to remember that enterprise platforms are typically a few years behind consumer applications, and we’re only starting to see consumer applications use the features of these mobile devices.
First of all, the Android tablets are only starting to hit the market place. Until there are a number of affordable options that match the iPads power, there’s only one tablet option — the iPad, and it’s not really an option when you consider Apple’s closed ecosystem and the fact that any app can be rejected any time for literally any reason.
Secondly, resolutions are not much better than what you find on a small laptop display, which limits the amount of data that can be displayed on one screen. This means that, until the 10″ tablets get better resolution and / or 3D display capability, the analytics and reporting abilities will be limited, and this will limit the usefulness of a tablet for analytics and/or reporting applications.
Thirdly, computing power is limited, so not only are you limited to SaaS platforms, but due to the data requirements, you’re limited to wherever you have good wifi.
Of course, once the Android tablets take off, resolutions improve, wifi is more universal, and more business applications appear that are designed specifically for mobile devices, it will be a different story. But that’s still a few years away.
In our last post we highlighted more of the key issues associated with the seven-step process for Value Focussed Supply as identified in CAPS’ recent report on Linking Supply to Competitive Business Strategies, and the issues associated with the middle steps in particular. In this post, we will tackle the rest of the issues that need to be addressed if an organization is going to answer the questions necessary to formulate a good VFS strategy as part of a Next Generation Sourcing effort.
- Evaluate and Select Strategic Supply Options
- Which suppliers have excess capacity, modern equipment, or innovation capabilities that the organization can take advantage of?
- Will products be built to order, built JIT, or built in bulk and stored at key distribution points? Or will hybrid methodologies be used, where subassemblies are built in economic order quantities, and then assembled and delivered JIT? Will inventory be handled in house, by a 3rd party, or by a partnership?
- Can the organization change the way the supply market operates or alter consumer market dynamics by way of one or more available supply options?
- Identify and Implement Levers
- Which of the following can change the market dynamics?
- alternate sources of supply
- non-traditional markets
- market / organizational restructuring
- change of ownership, location, or M&A
- change in supply base, distribution structure
- introduction of new competitive tension into the consumer or supply markets
- a new, segmented, supply chain
- Which of the following can change what is bought?
- product simplification or standardization
- design changes
- disruptive technologies
- customer aligned customization
- demand reduction / elimination
- innovation on demand
- Which of the following can change supplier interaction?
- volume levels
- supplier development program(s)
- (joint) process integration
- performance-based rewards
- target costs / pricing
- intellectual property management
- (more) relationship management
Once all of these issues have been addressed, the organization will be in a good position to answer all of the questions required by each step of the VFS process designed to enable an organization to select the right strategies that will create true, long-term, value in the supply chain.
In a future series, we will address how the process can be integrated into a larger Supply Management framework.