True Happiness in the Supply Chain
I was lead to Jim Sinur's blog where he discusses the plight of a global restaurant company that was having difficulty tracking its purchase orders. Really, there are few things that can lose their value faster than fresh foods. As Sinur explains, the company was using a series of ERP systems that segmented the data into separate silos as both product and data moved through their systems from orders to suppliers and eventually to the consumer. When products went missing or arrived late (and inedible), customers became unhappy - and left the restaurants for more reliable sources.
Where does happiness exist? First of all it should exist with the consumer who places their order for a meal and gets what (or better than) they expected. Along the way there should be multiple happy points where hidden transactions are replaced with knowledge and confidence. In Sinur's example these happy points are what he calls "visual process intelligence." In this case he is describing visual dashboard that display status in easily recognized graphical representations.
The dashboards are nothing new. But what was necessary for them to even exist was the technology to span the multiple silos of data and bring the highly diverse elements together into manageable agglomerations of information. This kind of data magic was nearly unimaginable only a few years ago. But thanks to the growing field of big data and analytics tools it's possible to make the transition from a chaotic, untimely, and unmanageable set of reports to globally distributed, near-real time management systems. I see these being deployed with increased frequency and bringing true happiness to those participants in the supply chain, starting with the order and ending with the end consumer... actually ending with the investors who benefit from increased profits generated by all this happiness.