In an EBN Weekly newsletter last month Barbara Jorgensen highlighted the phrase "unsung heroes of the supply chain" and noted its use in various past EBN communications. That got me thinking about the individuals who routinely go above and beyond to make today's global supply chain work. They jump through hoops, soar over obstacles, find solutions to intractable problems, and from time-to-time perform logistics miracles.
Every company has such heroes, and without them the supply chain would be less effective. I am very grateful that Avnet Inc. (NYSE: AVT) has more than its share of supply chain heroes. However, I am fearful that is not enough for the data-intensive supply chain we are all about to enter.
Let me draw a parallel from the world of medicine as outlined in Dr. Eric Topol's new book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care. The super-convergence of technology, cost-effective data storage, and mobility solutions are revolutionizing medicine and putting us on the cusp of having the ability to tailor overall medical care to the unique needs of each individual.
Already small sensors, connected wirelessly to smartphones, are transmitting instantaneous data to physicians, providing doctors with real-world patient information. Shortly there will be widespread use of smartphones with embedded sensors that will be able to instantly detect and transmit an individual's physiological response to new medicine, accurately identifying proper dosage and providing the analytics necessary to tailor personally customized medical solutions.
This technology will also facilitate an explosion of real-time health data across the population that will dramatically move us toward the resolution of many ailments that have literally plagued us through the ages. Combined with the projected near-term ability to inexpensively sequence everyone's DNA, this technology will pin-point medical vulnerabilities and truly transform healthcare.
Think about this in the context of the supply chain. Every company and supply chain engagement is unique, having what amounts to its own DNA reflective of the core strengths and weaknesses at both the macro and micro level of the companies involved. The combined dynamics of the processes at the individual companies and effectiveness of the interactions among supply chain partners translate into reliable or unreliable supply chain execution. At the same time, the complexity of the global supply chain is massively accelerating.
However, just like the data revolution in medicine, a similar data revolution is emerging in the world of supply chain management, and the underlying factors driving both revolutions are the same -- technology, data storage, and mobility solutions. For evidence of this we needn't look further than today's "control towers." This technology can enable multi-tier visibility, essentially providing the diagnostic tools necessary to evaluate the health of your supply chain ecosystem. However, the supply chain technologies of today are only the beginning. As more firms adopt and tap into these technologies the synergistic capabilities accelerate logarithmically, and the effectiveness of these systems becomes indispensible for anyone managing complex global engagements.
Analogous to the medical model, the supply chain revolution is all about the effective and timely use of information. It is clear to me that our future heroes will spend less time reacting to problems and leaping over tall buildings and more time devising innovative ways to harness and translate this information into supply chain excellence.
I welcome your thoughts on this.