561-futurecrystalballYep, it’s that time of year…. time to reflect on how our predictions for 2015 turned out and to look in our crystal ball to guess what may be the compelling stories of 2016. It’s a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it!

2015 was big for supply chains, electronic commerce, and all the technologies ec-bp.com readers follow. Around this time last year, I wrote that we’d see lots of interest in cloud technology, omnichannel consumers, driverless vehicles, robotics, drones, 3D printing and, most importantly, Big Data and IoT. In retrospect, that was like shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel. We indeed witnessed high levels of activity for all those topics, but allow me to make a few quick observations......

big data posPoint of sale (POS) data has long been the domain of the retailer that collects it. It hasn’t always available – in detail, anyway – to manufacturers and suppliers that could use the data for such things as demand planning, improving supply chains to avoid stock outs and to better understand and act on buying habits so they can more accurately allocate advertising dollars. Of course, all those benefits would in turn benefit the retailers, which could improve planning and forecasting, reduce (or eliminate) stock outs, and even have leverage to enact and enforce service level agreements with suppliers.

irrationalIt’s the start of a new year and once again, I set goals for the year. These are different than “resolutions” as I fully intend on meeting them. Some of these goals are the same from year to year: get in better shape, spend more time with my family, work smarter (not necessarily harder), decrease expenses, increase revenue,  be the change I want to see in the world,  end world hunger, get a super power... and this year I added a new goal to the list. I will walk 1,000 miles in 2011. Instead of approaching this goal rationally, like I’m prone to do for any project, I wanted to apply the ideas in the book Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, by Ori and Rom Brafum. If I behave irrationally naturally, as the authors point out, I may as well behave irrationally in a way that helps achieve my objectives.

StabilizeEveryone is suggesting what the trends in Supply Chain Management (SCM) are for 2016. Most of the writers agree on a “core” of important trends (sort of like the  “motherhood and apple pie” thing. Then there are even some new ones that pop up too. I am going to bring out as many as I find. Where they are not as common, I will provide a link to more information. Read on and tell me if you agree or disagree.

paper-stackIt’s fairly well documented that EDI and automated B2B processes can save money over manual, paper-based transactions. But just how much money are buyers and suppliers paying per EDI transaction, and are there ways to cut costs?

Broken-ChainIn reviewing the business elements of a company that interfaces with EDI, I am certain the most difficult to understand is the “Supply Chain”. The most common mistake is thinking that “Supply Chain Management” (SCM) is just another name for “Logistics”.

outsourceIn every EDI application, knowledge of the business needs and functions is of paramount importance. If you don't understand a "purchase order" or a "load tender" or a "health care claim or encounter" you'll never be able to map the ANSI or EDIFACT EDI data format for these transactions. In my experience, logistics is the toughest because of the many, many unrelated (by ownership) parties who need to be in the loop.

merging"Both sides would get what they wanted; that has always been our mantra." That sounds like a worthy goal in any relationship. How successful in real-world practice, though, is cultivation of the retailer-supplier pairing?

coinsThere continues to be confusion around who pays the price for EDI. There are three answers to this based on the definition of the question.

dashboard onlineThere’s nothing necessarily new about dashboards – software that serves as a control panels for enterprise applications and provides high-level views of a variety of performance and data-intensive information. But what’s clear is their growing importance for supply chain managers.