SourceMap: Striving to Bring Supply Chain Visibility to the Masses

SourceMap is a supply chain mapping tool that is designed to help an organization map out their end-to-end supply chain to help them gain critical insight and understanding into their performance, costs, sustainability, and risk. Especially risk. Most companies don’t understand the risks hidden in their supply chain — the sole-source parts, the over-dependence on high-risk geographic areas, or the ability of a single port strike to knock out multiple shipping lanes. (Nor do most companies understand the cost of risk, which is discussed in detail in Sourcing Innovation’s upcoming white-paper on Playing With Fire, but that’s a discussion for another post.)

SourceMap, born as a research project at the MIT Media Lab to publish and measure the environmental footprint of all the products on earth, was launched as a public platform for supply chain mapping in 2009 that allowed individuals to see every aspect of a product’s life — the good and the bad. Then, in 2011 it partnered with the MIT Centre for Transportation and Logistics to pursue opportunities in automating supply chain visualization and risk management. Shortly after, the 2011 Tohuku tsunami hit and wiped out over 45,000 buildings, damaged over 144,000 more, shut down all of Japan’s ports (including 15 that were located in the disaster zone). All told, it did over $300 Billion in damages and sent shockwaves throughout global supply chains. Companies were scrambling to understand the impact on their supply chains, SourceMap was approached, an incorporation followed, and the private sector solution was born.

Hands-down, SourceMap is the best visualization of the supply chain to hit the scene since Resilinc, which is, in Sourcing Innovation’s view, is still the leader in Supply Chain Risk Management solutions, but if all an organization needs is visibility and Supply Chain Visualization, SourceMap is now a leading contender in that arena. SourceMap has the ability to use an organization’s ERP data, public data sources, and survey data from the organization’s suppliers, the suppliers’ suppliers, down to the raw material suppliers, to create a complete point-to-point map of the supply chain that an organization can use to trace it’s products from source-to-sink on a (Google Earth) Map and visually see what is happening. This is a very powerful feature that allows an organization to gain insights into their supply chain that they never knew before. And just like an organization is typically shocked the first time they run a spend analysis (we spend that much with who?!?), they are typically just as shocked when they run a map and see that a number of distributors and tier 1 suppliers are using, or outsourcing a significant portion of, spend to the same tier 2 supplier and just pushing the single-source point of failure an organization is trying to avoid one step further down into the Supply Chain.

And the SourceMap solution, which only needs common location data points, can quickly import and combine all data sources an organization can get its hands on and SourceOne can often create a starting supply chain map for an organization in less than an hour. It’s not complete or perfect, but it allows the organization to quickly drill into the supply chain and see where the data, and focus, is needed.

SourceMap is quickly becoming the new supply chain visibility solution to watch, and for a real in-depth analysis, Sourcing Innovation would recommend the in-depth write-up that the doctor and the prophet collaborated on over on Spend Matters Pro (membership required) that provides four pages of deep insight into the solution.