Category Archives: rants

Twenty One More Things That Will Kill More People Today than COVID-19

In yesterday’s post, dedicated to all the Chicken Littles and Ostriches who are either running around like a chicken with their head cut off or just burying it in the sand, we pointed out EIGHT (8) things (way) more likely to kill you today than COVID-19. Today we’re going to point out 21 more things. Now, if every single person in the world contracted COVID-19 (which is really not likely giving the infection severity to historical pandemics), we will admit that things could be really bad, but as long as sanity (and not the mass hysteria perpetrated by the media prevails), the likelihood of that happening is small and the best thing to do is what first world countries are doing — “quarantine” the hot zones, check people entering or leaving borders or areas near hot zones that display the appropriate symptoms for COVID-19 (which goes beyond temperature, as dozens of maladies can affect your temperature), do the same in hospitals, and employ old fashioned common sense.

Over on Spend Matters, the prophet asked us to retain sanity and stand by our brothers and sisters trying to persevere through these hard times, and we have to thank him for that. We’d like to call out and give props to ProcureCon Indirect Europe 2020 in Berlin for staying sane (they aren’t in a hot zone) and moving forward with the appropriate levels of precaution. This is what SI believes most events and operations far enough from hot zones should do — take precautions, move ahead, and offer web streaming for the small percentage of people who might not be able to come or might not want to come given their risk tolerance. Yes, events might be smaller this year, but it’s important to show support so that they can be even bigger and better when this is all over. And while those who can’t attend won’t get the personal interaction, nothing is to stop the vendors from holding a few smaller half day to day events in select locations to add the one component that doesn’t translate as well over web conference. (And since most venues allow for some increase/decrease in size without much penalty with smart negotiation, as the vendors that push forward won’t be absorbing a huge loss, they should be able to afford to invest more in enabling their customers to grow professionally without as much travel.)

Anyway, to help you put things in perspective, as of now, here are 21 more things more likely to kill you today (based on average daily death rate)!

MALADY DAILY DEATHS EXCEED
Respiratory Diseases & Lower Respiratory Infections 17,500
Dementia 6,750
Digestive Diseases 6,500
Neonatal Diseases 4,750
Diarrheal Diseases 4,250
Liver Diseases 3,500
Road Injuries 3,250
Kidney Disease 3,250
Tuberculosis 3,000
Nutritional Deficiencies / Malnutrition (Hunger / Starvation) 1,600
HIV/AIDS 2,500
Parkinson’s Disease 900
Drowning 800
Meningitis 750
Alcoholism 500
Drug Addiction 450
Conflict (War) 350
Hepatitis 300
Fire 300
Poisonings 200
Extreme Temperature Exposure 150

And, as a bonus, we will remind you that you are still more likely, as of now, to die from a:

SNAKE BITE 130

So again, if you really gotta worry about something, do what I do and worry about a Mother-F*ckin’-Snake on the Mother-F*ckin’-Plane!

Dear COVID-19 Chickens and Ostriches …

No one likes you. No one likes the fact that you are disrupting global commerce, trade, and information exchange on pure FUD — fear, uncertainty, and doubt. No one likes that you have no logic or common sense. And no one likes that you can’t think for yourself and won’t do anything until a bigger company does so you can try to deflect the blame onto them.

Stop listening to the press that feeds off of FUD and start listening to the scientists and the facts.

1) No one really fully understands how COVID-19 spreads and who will get infected, but we do know it’s ability to spread is not as bad as SARS and that it is not even as bad as some strains of the flu that have been with us for decades.

2) The mortality rate for this global pandemic is quite low, especially among healthy adults … it’s really the young and the old that need to be concerned (and they don’t have the need to travel much anyway as they should be in school or retired). In fact, at the current mortality rate, for the death toll just to equal the mortality rate of the GOOD OLD FLU just in the USA in the 2017-2018 flu season, the entire population of China and over 1/3 of the population of neighbouring India would have to be infected.

3) More people die of snake bites every day than have died from COVID-19.

But, most importantly,

4) Unless you are in a hot-zone with a high concentration of cases, as of NOW, wherever you are is statistically no worse than anywhere else. And if you have any understanding of viruses at all, you know that due to delays in testing, over focus on borders, and no real tracking in certain developed countries until very recently, it’s already everywhere and THERE’S NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT THAT. This leaves us two choices. Business as usual. Or shut down the entire world for three weeks.

More people will still die of the good old fashioned flu no matter what you do. So stop acting like a cross-breed between Chicken Little and an Ostrich — if you are even contemplating that you are going to shut down an event, operation, or anything else, just do it right now as no one likes having plans upheaved at the last minute — not you, not your customers, not all the providers who were depending on your business (and turning away other business because they booked you), and definitely NOT your insurance company that is going to get thousands of claims they are NOT going to honour because your FUD does not constitute force majeure.

5) Here’s what you should be worrying about:

CANCER This F*CKER still kills over 26,000 people a day. (Even if the entire world contracted COVID-19, CANCER would still kill more people this year.)
HEART DISEASE This Other F*CKER still kills over 24,000 people a day. (It will also kill more people than COVID-19 would if the world were infected.)
DIABETES Over 4,000 people a day. And the number continues to rise over time.
SUICIDE Over 3,000 people a day without extra FUD and reasons to be depressed. The FUD around COVID-19 is probably pushing more people over the edge than the physical damage the virus is actually doing.
MOSQUITOS These blood suckers are infecting over 2,500 people a day with deadly diseases.
HUMANS We murder over 1,300 of our brothers and sisters every day … and those are just the documented cases!
THE FLU On average, over 1,000 people a day globally, but as many as 1,500 people a day in bad years!
SNAKES Over 130 people a day. If you really gotta worry about something, worry about a Mother-F*ckin’-Snake on the Mother-F*ckin’-Plane. *

Now it’s time to find a clearing, take a deep breath, and calm down. Then wash your hands, don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth until you do, and avoid slobbering perfect strangers (and definitely their dogs) until you know where they’ve been and the pandemic is contained (through declining numbers, better treatment options, and a vaccine).

(And, more importantly, think about what would happen if our medical professionals acted like many of you are right now!)

Personally, I dread Pneumonia and Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) more. Having had the first many times and a few very bad variations of influenza, until we get something at least as bad as SARS, I’m going to remember what Douglas Adams told us: DON’T PANIC. Panic accomplishes nothing. (After all, as the Brits would say, if you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die, so you might as well Die With Your Boots On!.)

* Snakes are as terrified as you when they are trapped in enclosed spaces outside their habitat, and while your impulse is to try and flee when backed in a corner, theirs is to attack YOU! Given that you are trapped inside a small space where you can’t move and aren’t allowed to take a snake stick on-board …

PS: Comments are disabled, mainly to prevent the need to moderate the hundreds (or thousands) of hate messages that will inevitably be left by the uneducated, press following, masses who (given election results in first world countries over the last few years, number in the tens, if not hundreds, of millions and)
a) refuse to think for themselves (but will stumble upon this blog as they have to read everything Corona Virus / COVID-19 related) and
b) will believe the doctor is an evil, uncaring, psychopath because he wants to bring logic to the situation. It’s not that the doctor doesn’t care, he’s just fed up with the fact that every time something new comes along, we forget about the tens of thousands of people dying EVERY DAY from diseases that are going to be around for decades more if we keep ignoring them.

PPS: the doctor used to just think that university degrees, logic tests, and psychological profiles should be necessary to run for public office … but is now getting to the point where he’s thinking it should be necessary before you are allowed to use the Internet. The fake news (that internet hosting companies can not be made responsible for even when such news is pointed out to them**) is bad enough. But the disinformation is getting more dangerous than reality itself!

**Thanks to section 230 and what turned out to be the the 26 words that created the internet. (See this recent article on The Verge or Jeff Kosseff’s C-Span video, for example.)

Digital is Decades Old. Don’t Get Fooled (Again)!

When se said that Digital. Digitized. Digitization. Digitalization. Are the New Buzzwords for Outdated Tech we were actually understating the reality. Digital may have been the buzz of the 90s … yes … the 90s (three decades ago), but, in reality we entered the digital age in the 70s – FIVE FULL DECADES AGO!

The first digital electronic watch prototype was developed in 1970 by Hamilton Watch Company and Electro Data and it hit the market in 1972. And while the first digital watch had a price tag of over $2,000, by the end of the decade, they were readily available for under $10 a unit and universally used. And they were … that’s right … DIGITAL!

It was only five years later that the world’s first digital camera was invented by an employee of Eastman Kodak. And while the first digital camera was not sold until 1989 in Japan and 1990 in the US, it existed. Since it used digital storage, it represented the move from digital to digitized. Again proving our point that the 90s is when we really entered the digital age.

The first digital mobile phone debuted two years after that, paving the way for Digitization … almost 30 years ago!

And then four years after that, digital satellite dishes 18″ in diameter hit the market, which were the best selling electronic devices in history at the time after VCRs. We were truly in the age of digitization by 1996. Almost 25 years ago.

Then, in 2000, we saw DVDs hit the market, and we truly hit digitalization as everything was not just transmitted, but stored, in 1s and 0s across all mediums. Two decades ago.

So, do you REALLY want to buy digital technology from a vendor that could be two decades old? Think about that before you start singing along to Laura Clark!

Remember, you’ll get what you sign up for … and you won’t necessarily like it!

So the next time you hear the word Digital or any variation of it, we recommend blaring The Who at full volume! Won’t Get Fooled Again!

Furthermore, No Modern 2020 Platform Will Be Without What-if?!

As you may have noticed, the doctor has been on a bit of a bent lately defining what a modern S2P platform is as he’s completely fed up of all of the “digital” bullshit where marketers are trying to sell everything old like its new again and technically advertising solutions that are less powerful than the doctor could code on his 8088 three decades ago! (It had a 2400 baud modem so the requirement of network connectivity was even met.)

And if you think the doctor is being a bit extreme, go back and re-read the definitions of “digital” and “analysis”, ask some pointed questions to these vendors about what their solutions can really do, and you’ll find that maybe, just maybe, he’s not being that extreme at all. It’s sad how many vendors believe that a fancy new UX on a weak Procurement 2.0 solution all of a sudden makes it 3.0 and 4.0 ready when all they are really doing is putting lipstick on a pig (and no self respecting pig wants to wear lipstick)!

Yesterday we defined the levels of analytics and hopefully made it clear that there shouldn’t be a single platform on your consideration list that doesn’t have at least basic prescriptive capability and that you should also make sure the vendor is on a permissive journey before signing on the bottom line!

But that’s not all you need to demand in a platform. You also need to demand a platform with embedded What If? capability.

It’s going to be a while before the predictive analytics work across all the situations a procurement specialist need them to work in, and even longer until the platform supports the insights needed for permissive analytics. But, in the interim, the procurement specialists still need to extract value from analytics — and that value is going to come from What If?.

What If? the demand next year is the same as this year, what will the total cost be if the cost stays flat? What if demand rises 10%?

What If? the delivery is late by a day? By 3 days? By a week? What if the order is routed to the backup supplier? The backup location?

What If? the supplier’s financial woes get worse? What if the supplier goes bankrupt?

What If? the contract milestone isn’t hit? What is the impact? What is the risk?

The procurement professional needs to be able to ask What If? throughout the platform and, more importantly, throughout the analytics. Some Reports should be interactive and allow the user to project the next quarter, year, etc. of data using current data and advanced What If? algorithms. Anything less won’t be enough.

… And Advanced Analytics Should Be a Must in 2020!

Just like any vendor can claim to have a digital procurement solution because, as we clearly explained last week, email and spreadsheets technically count, any vendor can claim to have analytics. Consider the definition:

the analysis of data, typically large sets of business data, by the use of mathematics, statistics, and computer software

And then consider the common definition of analysis:

a presentation, usually in writing, of the results of this process

This means that any software that provides a canned report summarizing a data set (average, mean, etc.) qualifies. MRP software from four decades ago had canned reports that did this and qualify. Thus, since computers are modern in the grand scheme of human history, any vendor can tell you with a straight faced that they have a modern platform with a modern analytics solution if it runs on a computer, supports bid collection in a spreadsheet, and contains a canned report summary — especially if they were an English or Arts Major (especially since we are in the post-modern phase in their worldview).

DO YOU REALLY WANT TWO-PLUS DECADES OLD TECHNOLOGY?

Think carefully about this — because if you don’t ask the right questions and use the right measuring stick, that’s precisely what you might get if you don’t get beyond this “digital” and baseline “analytics” crap.

What you have to know is that there are levels to analysis. And while the number of levels might very depending on how granular you want to get, there are at least five in today’s technology platforms, and these are the seven levels the doctor likes to use.

1. Classificative
At this level, data is classified into buckets for the purpose of basic analytics.

2. Descriptive
At this level, basic statistics are run to compute summary, typically canned, reports on the data.

For decades, this is all you got, and many vendors still try to pass this off as sufficient.

3. Diagnostic
At this level, the user is either given the ability to define their own reports to drill in and find the potential root causes of issues identified in the reports or to run more advanced statistics (beyond just average and mean) to identify correlations between data to find potential root causes of issues.

Most platforms developed or upgraded in the last five years in S2P, Sourcing, and Spend Analysis have this capability. But this is not enough any more, especially when there are do-it-yourself software packages for under 1K that can allow you to get to the next level, which has been around in specialized demand planning and analytics for decades.

4. Predictive
At this level, the platform employs statistical trend analysis, advanced clustering, and/or machine learning to identify trends and predict future costs, risks, performance, etc.

A few platforms are starting to incorporate this, but this should be a baseline requirement considering ERPs, demand planning, and advanced BI tools have had at least some capability here for close to 2 decades

5. Prescriptive
At this level, the platform is not just identifying and computing future trends, but providing advice on what to do as a result of those trends.

Leading platforms are starting down this path, but given that the foundations of prescriptive analytics have been around for over two decades and that best practices in sourcing and procurement have been around almost as long, if a platform can’t provide not only insight and recommendations what to do with that insight, it will never even achieve 3.0 objectives … meaning 4.0 will never be a reality.

In other words, any platform without some prescriptive capability is behind and not one you should be investing in.

6. Permissive
At this level, the prescriptive analytics is used to power automatic actions based on embedded rules. If the platform determines a commodity that is typically on a one year contract is at an all time low, it might initiate the renewal event two months early to lock a rate in if a rule is defined that says events can be initiated up to three months early if prices drop below contracted rates and are projected to be within 2% of the projected low.

Few platforms are here, but you should be looking for a configurable platform with rules that permit simple automation based on both entered and derived data values from the application and the data it contains. Permissive analytics is a cornerstone of the Procurement 4.0 promise so make sure your chosen vendor is building in permissive analytic capability. It can be fledgeling to start, but something needs to be there or it won’t be there when you need it.

7. Cognitive
At this level, the platform embeds machine learning and advanced AI techniques to not only make good predictions but choose the right actions to take on those predictions without any user intervention for run-of-the-mill sourcing and procurement processes and events. When we reach Procurement 4.0, such systems will not only eliminate 98% of tactical work to allow buyers to focus on the strategic, but eliminate 90%+ of strategic work identified as relatively low value (at the time) and allow buyers to focus on strategic efforts that present the greatest opportunity to provide value … truly optimizing the limited Procurement resources available.