Monthly Archives: March 2017

BREXIT Has Officially Begun

‘Nuff said.

Actually, there is no room in a blog to say all that needs to be said, so we’ll keep it brief. Time to start planning for change. And the only way to do that properly is with an advanced sourcing platform — the kind SI has been promoting for almost 11 years. New here and not sure what that is? Time to catch up on the archives. Start with optimization, analytics, and risk management first.

PRGX, Prologue

Download and Sing Along! (Midi player required)

Buyer, there’s no need to feel down
I said, Buyer, pick yourself off the ground
I said, Buyer, ’cause you’ve got a new tool
There’s no need to be stressed-out now.

Buyer, there’s a tool you can tread.
I said, Buyer, when you’re short on the bread.
You can rock it, and I’m sure you will find.
Many ways to save a cool dime.

It’s fun to save with the P.R.G.X.
It’s fun to save with the P.R.G.X.

They have all the reports for Buyers to enjoy
You can save cash like the big boys …

It’s fun to save with the P.R.G.X.
It’s fun to save with the P.R.G.X.

You can get your data clean, you can get some insights,
You can report on what you like …

Buyer, are you listening to me?
I said, Buyer, what do you want to be?
I said, Buyer, you can make real your dreams.
But you got to know this one thing!

No one does it all by himself.
I said, Buyer, put your pride on the shelf,
And just find them, find the P.R.G.X.
I’m sure they can help you today.

It’s fun to save with the P.R.G.X.
It’s fun to save with the P.R.G.X.

They have all the reports for Buyers to enjoy,
You can save cash like the big boys …

It’s fun to save with the P.R.G.X.
It’s fun to save with the P.R.G.X.

You can get your data clean, you can get some insights,
You can report on what you like …

Buyer, I was once in your shoes.
I said, I was down and out with the blues.
I felt no one cared if I could survive.
I felt the whole world was so jive …

That’s when someone came up to me.
And said, Buyer, take a a walk up the street.
There’s a group there called the P.R.G.X.
They can start you back on your way.

It’s fun to save with the P.R.G.X.
It’s fun to save with the P.R.G.X.

They have all the reports for Buyers to enjoy,
You can save cash like the big boys …

P.R.G.X. … you’ll save it with the P.R.G.X.

Buyer, Buyer, there’s no need to feel down.
Buyer, Buyer get yourself off the ground.

P.R.G.X. … you’ll save it with the P.R.G.X.

Buyer, Buyer, there’s no need to feel down.
Buyer, Buyer get yourself off the ground.

P.R.G.X. … just go find the P.R.G.X.

Buyer, Buyer, are you listening to me?
Buyer, Buyer, what do you wanna be?

It’s Not an AI Hype Cycle – It’s an AI Hype Wave!

Is it yet another AI hype cycle? This question was posed by Vinnie Mirchandani over on deal architect and it’s a good question.

AI has been the dream since the 1950′s when computing was just beginning and Alan Turing defined the famous Turing test (which is, sadly, not necessarily enough anymore because parallel computing and wide-scale sampling of real conversations can be used to pass the Turing test in many situations), but we’re not there yet. Enhancements to computing power, storage, and algorithms have made automated reasoning programs exponentially more powerful than they were sixty years ago, and today’s predictive capability is essentially unmatched … with many algorithms outdoing the best human experts.

But they are still not intelligent. They’re all based on data and trends which, for the most part, are predictable, and that’s where they excel — but where they are not, or where those trends can change on a dime, they still fail … some times spectacularly. Plus, if the data is incomplete or bad, they don’t always see this … and predict a wrong outcome. Human experts, on the other hand, can see missing data, outrageous trends, and when trends are inflecting in unexpected ways.

We’re nowhere near the point where we can even truly start using AI with a straight face, and, as per a quote from Yann LeCun, the director of AI research at Facebook, as quoted by the deal architect, despite these astonishing advances, we are a long way from machines that are as intelligent as humans — or even rats. So far, we’ve seen only 5% of what AI can do. And I’d say that 5% is an overstatement.

But, as the deal architect has indicated, we are seeing a huge increase in they hype about AI. As indicated by the deal architect, IBM has been marketing Watson since before it should have been announced, technologists are claiming that AI can replace entire fields, and Cambridge University has created a Center for the Study of Existential Risk to study extinction-level risks that can emerge from technological advances (like AI). Apparently, the hype is back … but the reality is that it never went away. It’s a continuous wave that crests and troughs and crest and troughs … it never goes away. The believers, for better or worse, won’t let it. There hasn’t been a decade where the hype hasn’t increased unnecessarily since the 50′s, and we’ll never see the end. Because until someone makes a true quantum leap, it will continue to be gradual progress, decade after decade, and the hype will continue ad-nauseum.

Supply Chains Are Complex … and the Earth is Round.

Hey, some of you might not know the earth is round! It’s only been 70 years since the first pictures of earth were taken from an altitude greater than 100 miles in space (and, up until that time, the non-believers could demand visual proof)! (To be precise, the first pictures of Earth as seen from an altitude above 100 miles was on March 7, 1947. Source: NASA)

But to not know that supply chains are complex, when “global” trade is almost as old as civilization (as purchasing is, of course, the world’s second oldest profession until such time as someone can definitely prove astronomy came first), that’s, well, really unthinkable. But yet, APICS and Michigan State University just gave us yet another report that announced yet again that supply chain leaders are citing “complexity” as the top supply chain challenge. Moreover, they decided to dive into the sources of complexity and found, surprise, surprise that they are:

  • customer accommodation
  • operations globalization
  • supplier (local sourcing) complexity
  • supply chain trends

But there’s nothing new here either. Let’s take ‘em one by one.

The number of variations of a product desired is equal to the number of customers you ask. Period. Has always been. Has always will be — so the more customers you try to accommodate, the more complex your product variations, and supporting supply chain, becomes. And we’ve known this since long before Marshall M. Kirkman wrote the first Purchasing Manual.

Of course the supply chain becomes more complex as you go more global. Every locale has the potential to add languages, currencies, culture, local regulatory requirements, logistics challenges, border challenges, and so on and so on.

And then there are all the local issues faces by the suppliers — additional regulatory requirements, sustainability and CSR efforts to stay off of boycott lists, local workforce challenges, local disruption and disaster risks, and so on.

And of course trends affect complexity. They are usually the source … but they are not new issue. As we laid bare in our “future trend expose”, of the 33 trends commonly cited as future trends, only 3 were really relatively new, and only 1 was really a future trend.

Complexity has always been here, and the more global we get, the more complex we get. Nothing has changed, and if it’s not completely obvious at this point, you’re in the wrong profession.

That’s why SI has been preaching optimization and analytics since day one, since those are the only advanced sourcing solutions that can really handle the complexity of modern supply chains.