Hi Mike, Thanks for sharing these practical tips. I have a few follow-up questions for you.
It seems “automation” today still implies some sort of email chain in which one person receives the notification and then forwards it along to the internal shipping/receiving team and/or the customer. How easy is it set up the system to notify multiple people at the same time so everyone who needs the shipping or receiving information gets it simultaneously? Are there any drawbacks in having that information disseminated across multiple individuals or groups? I imagine a considerable amount of time would be saved throughout the supply chain if everyone got the information at the same time.
And, how do you envision these inbound and outbound visibility issues being addressed by Web 2.0 connectivity tools or social networking platforms? These kinds of tools are becoming more prevalent, and people are getting comfortable interacting this way. Some of these shipping alerts may lend themselves to a Web 2.0 environment.
Hi Jennifer, I am not speaking for Mike, but incorporating a distribution list or adding multiple recipients to an email notification should be relatively simple. The real question I think you are posing is that email notification, although perhaps automated by the sending party, still requires human intervention at the receiving side or somewhere in the chain. The more automated systematic approach would be to implement some sort of event management system, where these sort of notifications would then trigger of series of events which would then be reacted to automatically by the system via a rules engine and making the proper adjustments and decisions without any human intervention. Incorporating Web 2.0 or social media into this would be quite compelling.
Right, Dave. That's exactly what I was wondering - how do we shift from a system that stills need human interventation to a more truly automated event-notification mechanism. That's really what most companies could use.
Ahhh! This is easier said than done. Jennifer, I agree that this is what most companies need, but there are issues, and we touched upon this somewhat on your "Co-Creation and Collaboration" post. This may not pertain as much to an SMB company, but if you look at a typical large (or even medium sized) corporation with global operations (and in many cases, just domestic operations), the number of potential systems that are being maintained may be numerous. Some of these systems may be modern, while some of them may be a bit dated. Also, certain functionality may be specific to each system. Manufacturing, Distribution, Order Entry, Finance, etc. may all be on different systems. The problem is that they are on different systems, in which in many cases a "best of breed" solution is the best approach, but some of the systems are in fact dated and cannot be easily modified or updated without a major upgrade taking place. This is why many companies can only hope for a visibility layer sitting on top of all or some of these systems with limited automation. The technology exists, but are companies willing to take the plunge for full automation?
Dave, you hit it right on the head: "The technology exists, but are companies willing to take the plunge for full automation?"
Fortunately, it's getting easier! Transportation and logistics providers are increasingly offering slicker technology tools to tap into the logistics data stream.
Certainly today, it's standard fare to enable proactive email notifications to multiple recipients, if desired. Also, there are often robust data streams (eg XML) available for the ultimate in notification customization. Finally, more software providers are offering out-of-the-box integration.
Also, one other thing: the web 2.0 intersection with logistics is a fascinating question (Web 2.0 == dynamic and shareable content and social networking, as defined by Wikipedia).
Likely, integration with Twitter and/or Facebook is going to be on the horizon for a lot of companies as these social media streams become more and more ubiquitous. Wouldn't it be cool to get a Twitter direct message on your blackberry telling you your supplier just shipped your pallet, vs. merely an email! :-) Obviously, the desired channel for visibility info will vary across people/firms: some want email, some want a Twitter DM, some want carrier pigeon.
My guess is that we'll see more of a demand for Web 2.0 supply chain visibility after High Tech firms get past some of the basic struggles (visibility from supplier to end-customer). Sometimes (esp. for the SMB) it seems companies are focused on growing sales, cutting costs, and innovating, vs. taking the time to leverage more sophisticated supply chain technologies.
What they often don't realize is that there are options for technologies and it actually helps improve the bottom line and it's worth the time (even for the SMB)....
Can I get the carrier pigeon? Perhaps snail mail would fall into that category. Personally, I don't care about the coolness factor and check my email much more frequently than Twitter, so I actually would prefer an email notice to a Tweet. But the world at large probably would prefer a text, as that is considered universally cool --even for the teens who don't tend to follow Twitter.
I agree with that. The only caveat with texts is that there isn't as much accounting as there is with email. I can easily delete a text from my phone with no simple way to recover it in the case of an emergency or compliance.
This all goes out the window is youhave a Blackberry of coourse (but I can't stand those things...).
Maybe you can also get a carrier pigeon, pocharles, then you can keep the slip of paper for a written record. What do you have against blackberries? I don't use one myself, but I know it is required for many IT people.
Having had worked with them for years now, there are so many little things that pop up when it comes to using and/or administering them. I have mostly done admin tasks with them. I know many IT guys love them but that's because alot of them do not have to do any real setup work (they just get it & use it). Of all of the smartphones I've been fored to work with, the BB's are the most annoying.
The only thing I cannot ignore credit is that their support is awesome and their Knowledge base is better than most.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.