Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Technology trends in Inventory Management – Thumbs up or down, what matters is the choice

Enough has been said about the role of technology in the world of product supply chains. Yet the fever of brainstorming the pros and cons of including technology within the supply chain systems of the world seems to be ceaseless in its endurance. The positive impact, though unquestionable, still remains a subject of discussion because of the big question – “how much is ‘too much’” still remains the big question. Calls for minimizing complex IT integration, improving business acumen to make on the go decisions, improving decision maker interaction, enabling effective network management to reduce production lead times have been doing the rounds on one half of the sphere. The other half is making waves with innovators constantly bringing in ideas from all quarters, squeezing it into the system, checking up what it what it digests and what it throws out and contributing further out-of-the-box  theories.

Companies like Triple Point Technology (on the technology solutions supply end) provide real-time solutions to address the volatility and variability in the supply chain cycle catering to better inventory management. They base their services on advanced analytics and facilitate complete market solutions that understand the nuances based on historical evidence, hence supporting statistically favorable decisions. The rising tide keeps up its pace in the demand side as well. O’Neill, a surfwear company, more than half a century old, trended towards an electronic commerce server (Liaison Technologies) to take care of its challenges in inventory logistics. The list grows and it is not surprising to see technology giants like Bosch (out-of-stock verification software) and Philips (inventory turnover and delivery reliability solutions) get appended to the roster.

Yet this is only the mellifluous side of the story of a selected few out of the huge pool of organizations that are struggling to make a mark. The struggle is not because of the lack of resources but because of the inefficiency in leveraging the right resources. The last two decades have seen exponential growth in technology solutions. This has only meant confusion among the organizations as to what to pick and how to use. Despite the rise of service oriented sales on this front (as discussed above) the selection of technology has pushed upper level management to the point of thinking if adopting these multifarious technologies is just a fancy disposition.

However, the point that I feel is missing in all this noise is the possible fact that companies might have forgotten that technology (irrespective of its application) is yet another tool. The reason why I feel this missing is there continues to be too much panic and less entrepreneurial mindset. If at all technology is seen as yet another tool it could have been approached for its use in inventory management using a test-fail-learn approach or employ innovative methods to select the right technology. For example, idea of assessing technology using yet another analysis [IEEE, 3] is an innovative perspective. I believe such a position helps us see the entire picture by taking a step backward. It is only unfortunate that such theories or ideas or still only on paper but not running as live wires. Once such thoughts get the right playground, companies will naturally make the right decisions and right choices and not have second thoughts about the role technology could play within their setup.

How does a company’s vision and mission influence its decision making process with respect to supply chain management? How much scope are organizations of this technology cum simulation era give themselves to learn by “innovate and fail” process?


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.