The author, Lora Cecere, starts the article by stating that two main problems continue to persist: 1) the effective use of data and 2) the understanding of supply chains as a complex system. Cecere states that it is extremely common for companies to still use Excel spreadsheets as their most advanced methodology in their supply chain networks. Additionally, she states that only 11% of companies have the capabilities to evaluate a "what if" analysis and only 24% of companies are able to model profitability impacts on changing conditions in their complex systems.
At the Supply Chain Insights Global Summit, supply chain managers discussed what their futures looked like. Logitech had been facing complex issues with their Ultimate Ear product, which is custom built based on a customer's ear canal images. With the advent of 3-D printing, devices can now be made locally, creating a shorter lead time and a lower cost. Another idea that was discussed was the process of fitting knee implants to customers. Currently, the implants are given to a salesperson in multiple sizes. The salesperson shows up at the hospital to do a fitting, and then orders the correct sizes and has them shipped before the surgery. However, supply chain leaders believe that analytics can change all this by redesigning the supply chain. The supply chain could include digital images of the patient's bone structure being sent to a local lab where the replacements are built. Cecere believed that after these innovative supply chains are built, they could be paired with data mining techniques to lessen supplier's risks.
In her article, Cecere never fully answers the issue of so many companies being behind in their use of analytics and technology, which makes me wonder, what will it take for these companies to perform at a higher technological and statistical level? Is it cheaper access to technology and supply chain software, as we can assume that many business are just too small to invest in such things? And if it is cheaper software and technology, what is being sacrificed for the price?