Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Inventory Footprint and the Governance of Big Data

One of the readings this week profiled the startup company Verdigris, and had a discussion on how the use of proper technology has helped this company to become a leader in connected buildings and using big data analytics to sustain efficient energy practices. The mention of this company made me interested in whether or not there were efforts to analyze the effects on energy by increasing efficiency in supply chain management and how technology has been able to make companies more “green”. Has innovation of technological solutions to be used in supply chains actually helped to not only increase efficiency for the sake of cost but also for the sake of the environment?
Terra Technology aids large companies in managing their supply chain and inventory practices by equipping them with the right information to tackle market volatility. Their Thought Leadership has many articles about accurate forecasting and using industry benchmarks to further your organization, but they also discuss how efficiency in supply chain can lead to sustainable practices. According to their research, cutting 10 days of inventory can lead to an annual deduction of 33% of a company’s carbon and water footprints.[1] A term coined “Inventory Footprint” is looked at from the viewpoint of combining large inventory effects on capital, carbon, and water. From our previous class discussions, we know now that having too much inventory or mismanaged inventory ties up the company’s capital that could otherwise be used for further investments or simply allowing cash on hand. However, as mentioned in the editorial regarding predictive analytics and big data usage, analyzing large data on consumer choices and inventory can better the real time forecasting of companies and allowing for more accurate levels of inventory, thereby allowing for more sustainable practices. Terra Technology even offers a sustainability calculator to allow for companies to see how their changes in days in inventory can affect their carbon and water footprint.[2] Therefore, arguably, with better technology and overall predictive analytics of big data that will be ever present, there can be more efforts to sustain the use of our natural resources.
Another topic that piqued my interest from the articles this week is the governance of big data. The editorial on this topic spoke of how big data has the power to transform industries and what skills will be required in order to properly analyze this data. While big data is starting to have positive effects on many industries so far, especially in healthcare, how does the legality aspect tie in? What governing laws are there now about the use of big data and what will be the future for these policies? According to Bird & Bird, a law firm, the legal implications of Big Data are ownership of data and usage rights.[3] Privacy is obviously a huge issue with big data – what fields are allowed to be extracted for the application to sophisticated algorithms? Additionally, how long is big data required to be stored and in what shape and form? Finally, how will customer consent play into the utilization of big data? As the article describing the “internet of things” discusses, almost all objects that we are familiar with will be able to store data and share it on the internet. This progression of technology will have to be followed by a wave of legal policies in order to support this infrastructure. The question becomes how soon will it be required and what will it entail?


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