Saturday, October 12, 2013

Big data and not ERP: A solution for Agriculture Supply chain challenges

Our discussion about ERP under week 7 topic, Role of Technology in Supply chain Management got me curious to learn more about ERP.  Being skeptic by nature, I am still not sure if ERP could actually be an answer to all kind of supply chain inefficiency related challenges. I came across this article, “Farm to Fork- Big Data and the Agriculture Value Chain “written by Hiral Chandrana, Global Head of Consumer Good, Wipro.
According to United Nations, by2050 many of the countries will lack enough arable land to ever-growing population. Consequently, the shift in eating habits towards westernized meat based diets leading to increased cost of food production and demands from consumers for affordable food stuffs will ring a loud alarm about  the urgent need to maximize efficiency. ERP  is what comes to everyone’s mind as  answer to this challenge of maximizing efficiency. But that is not true.
Supply chain from farm to fork generates volume of data from a variety of sources including weather reports, soil conditions, water resources, market demand etc. Unfortunately, this data is highly unstructured or at the best semi-structured. Supply chain efficiency, inventory optimization and high level of critical decision making are the key benefits that incentivize distribution companies to implement ERP systems. However, companies have realized that ERP works best for the standard volume and uniform data. Data along farm to fork supply chain is highly variable in nature.  That restricts ERP capability to actually increase efficiency and on contrary, decreases the flexibility and prevents business from adapting to fluctuations.
Big data may be an answer to this challenge. We just need to unlock its potential. Data from soil samples can be useful to (a) measure the potential yield of their farm land,(b) allow efficient and appropriate use of fertilizers (c) strategic use of pesticides and bring down costs (d) increase awareness around which produce will fetch the best return and inventory and logistics.
Big data analytic has the tremendous potential to improve farm to fork supply chain efficiency. It is just waiting to be tapped! Are you ready for it?
Learn more about how to use big data for supply chain optimization

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