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Google Chrome Might Improve the Supply Chain

Do you think cloud computing can cut costs in the supply chain? And would you trust {complink 2294|Google} or {complink 3426|Microsoft Corp.} to host the applications that run your company's business, similar to the way many opted into software as a service (SaaS) models from companies like {complink 8468|Salesforce.com Inc.}?

Many companies in the high-tech supply chain began to automate processes earlier this decade, integrating silos of data as smaller companies got swallowed up by larger competitors. They also outsourced IT functions and relied on SaaS support to increase the agility of their supply chains.

Still, 96 percent of hi-tech supply chain executives feel more pressure these days to boost profits and increase their companies' competitive advantage, according to a recent eyefortransport survey. The survey, conducted in September, also notes 71 percent of respondents plan to increase investments in technology during the next 12 months, up from 48 percent last year.

I believe most of the pressure to reduce supply chain costs and increase return on investment will occur in the mobile market, from tablets and notebooks to mobile handsets and Internet cloud computing devices similar to Google’s Cr-48, a notebook designed to show off its new Chrome operating system (OS) and demonstrate the power and advantages of cloud computing.

The notebook, which boots up in less than 10 seconds from a cold start and replaces the cap key on the keyboard with one that brings up a Chrome browser and Google search engine, will likely never end up on the market for distribution, but the OS and apps will. Developers will have an opportunity to build those apps and place them in the Chrome Apps Store where companies, especially smaller manufacturers, can take advantage of innovations found mostly in more expensive applications.

The nicest feature of the new Chrome OS notebook is that it comes with WiFi, as well as 3G support from Verizon, which offers a pay-as-you-go service. And each month you get 100MB of connectivity free for two years. After that it's $9.99 monthly. This model could make sense for startups that want to remain flexible, especially those developing products for the mobile market.

The development raises numerous questions: What do you think of cloud computing for business? Can you trust third-party apps from smaller developers to run your business, and are you convinced security issues will not negatively influence your decision? Does your company plan to increase investments in technology? If yes, what type of technology will you look to add and why? What does your IT investment strategy look like for the next 12 months, and does it include upgrades or overhauls?

Answers to these questions will impact the electronic supply chain as companies squeeze more efficiency out of their systems. How will you cut back in the supply chain to gain efficiencies, boost revenue, and garner a larger return on investment?

17 comments on “Google Chrome Might Improve the Supply Chain

  1. bolaji ojo
    December 20, 2010

    Laurie, What's your understanding of Google's overall objective with all of the technologies the company has introduced or plan to introduce. Some of them have taken off strongly and others have seen limited adoption. For instance, Google's office products should have seen higher usage — it's free after all — yet Microsoft continues to sell its Office products. Applications like this impact businesses and one would assume they would be in a hurry to use them. Why has this not been the case and do we have any reasons to believe Google's applications can compete against or replace robust supply chain applications from Microsoft, Oracle or SAP?

  2. Ariella
    December 20, 2010

    Personally, I've set Chrome as my default browser.  I used to use Mozilla but encountered some annoyances with searches that went to ads instead of what I wanted, so I switched over.  Though I haven't used IE as my main browser in years, there are still times when I have no choice but to use it.  Pearson's software does not work properly outside IE, so all who score essays for the company, as I do, cannot opt for their own favorites browsers.   I suppose that the powers that be there are die-hard Microsoft fans who had the system designed that way and did not want to bothered to be sure it would work on all platforms.

  3. mfbertozzi
    December 20, 2010

    It is a good point; Google apps portfolio (Chrome included) and cloud architecture are key players in cutting costs toward IT Supply Chain improvement, anyway let's sync up on events happing right now.

    Due to strong weather condition abroad UK several public services are down or in critical condition. As past year at this stage, Heathrow is closed, Opeareach is declaring up to 10 MBORC (matter beyond our reasonable control) events a day. This means serious problems in terms network availability and connection to IT systems resident in datacenters and not at own premises. 

    How much does 1 hour of SAP – Supply Chain cost not available? So cut costs shows feasible if cloud architecture could ensure very strong recovery features.

    May Google for example scores one against Microsoft or SAP, in offering “on bundle” apps and connection via its worldwide wireless still in deployment?

  4. Laurie Sullivan
    December 20, 2010

    Hi Bolaji,

    Google acquired the cloud word processing and spreadsheet line of applications years ago through an acquisition. Although it does a good job marketing search, when it comes to smaller businesses the company as a whole doesn't see the same success in other areas.

    Don't get me wrong. Google has seen plenty of government and state agencies adopt their cloud computing strategy. Apparently, it saves government agencies between 25% and 50% of costs. Google really needs to appeal to small businesses, too.

    Chrome OS will begin to attract individuals and small businesses to cloud computing. Google will likely (somehow) build functions into the Android operating system for mobile to get Oracle off their back and put to rest the lawsuit related to Java. 

    Laurie

     

     

     

  5. DataCrunch
    December 20, 2010

    If it were up to Google, every application would be offered in the “cloud”, but we all know this is not the reality.  I don’t see Google coming up with a supply chain software suite that can compete with SAP or any other major vendor.  But what I could see happening is that “Google-like” companies potentially offering supply chain widgets to compliment ERP systems with an open architecture API or via web services.    

  6. Himanshugupta
    December 20, 2010

    It will be interesting to see how chrome OS perform and attract attention of the general public. I recently read that google is distributing free netbooks with chrome OS to chosen few to test. If i talk about the andriod OS for mobiles then google has been quite successful in its strategy to capture as much market share as possible. I still wonder what is their stategy as they can not keep on providing free mobile OS plateform.

  7. Ashu001
    December 21, 2010

    Dave, What you say makes the most sense here.Eventually,its not going to either all In house or all in the Cloud.A Hybrid model serves the needs of most ordinary users/enterprises the best. I was recently on the road with patchy Internet connectivity for most part.And this scenario if I was carrying around a Google OS kind of Machine,my productivity WOULD have been seriously hampered. So we need a hybrid solution which can be tailored to fit individual(both people as well as company) needs. Regards Ashish.

  8. Ashu001
    December 21, 2010

    Laurie,

    As a IT professional primarily focussed on solving the needs of SMBs,I can say with a lot of certainty that Cloud Apps have a lot of potential for most SMBs.The ability to outsource all but the most critical functions of your core business is a major,major Plus point. Understandably what those Cloud providers could do with the Data raises significant privacy hassles,but that is something which will be sorted out as these companies gain more experience in providing these solutions.

     

    Regards

    Ashish.

  9. elctrnx_lyf
    December 21, 2010

    I do not think chrome OS will address the needs of a big manufacturing company that are actually served by the supply chain software. As far as my experience goes, every one uses SAP. Even though I’m not guy with extensive knowledge on the supply chain software, I think it is complex software that works on huge database of existing information and to actually manage all the supply chain tasks online over the computer.

    This article can fuel lot of new thoughts. So, I would like to hear from experts regarding how a cloud application can actually benefit the manufacturing companies to have a better supply chain management.

    Kiran

  10. itguyphil
    December 21, 2010

    More importantly, the cost savings is what is the major crutch for SMBs. THe opportunity to budget appropriately and keep costs stable is the most important factor for any SMB especially these days.

  11. Laurie Sullivan
    December 22, 2010

    Ashish, What could these providers do with the data that could raise privacy concerns? How will they sort them out. Will the Federal Trade Commission step in to try and regulate cloud computing like it has done with online advertising?

  12. Laurie Sullivan
    December 22, 2010

    Yes, that's how I got the idea for this post. I'm one of those lucky ones who gets the opportunity to try out the service. Any questions I can answer for you? They can provide a free mobile OS because they make money off advertising. 

  13. Laurie Sullivan
    December 22, 2010

    I agree with Kiran.

    As cloud computing continues to emerge as a disruptive force, organizations will want to assess the potential, according to the research firm Gartner. This change in the market will help CIOs understand and delineate vendors, IT services, software and infrastructure components.

    Gartner predicts that by 2012, India-centric IT service companies will represent 20% of cloud aggregators through service offerings. Organizations that can adopt newer utility and cloud-based offerings in select areas of their enterprises—with a heavy dose of strong risk management skills—will gain an important advantage within their industries.

    So, can anyone provide insight into how cloud computing can help supply chains?

  14. Ashu001
    December 22, 2010

    Laurie,

    The Cloud providers could do a lot of stuff…For instance they could sell off the data to the highest bidder(which is what most Internet Marketing companies are upto today),with Zero disregard for Privacy concerns.

    This is just one,but if you let your imagination run wild you could come up with many more sceanarios.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  15. Taimoor Zubar
    December 22, 2010

    I think the biggest advantage cloud computing can give to a supply chain is to allow access to the data from multiple platforms. Data is the most critical element in making supply chain decisions and ease of access to the data can certainly allow managers to take correct decisions on time. With cloud computing, you are no longer confined by the restriction of accessing the supply chain data through your laptop and while being connected to the company's network. These days smartphone apps, backed by cloud computing, allow you to get real time information about your inventory inventory movement, no matter where you are. This certainly can lead to managing the supply chain more efficiently.

  16. Taimoor Zubar
    December 22, 2010

    @Ashish: Each time you subscribe to a service by a cloud provider, the vendor has to sign a comprehensive terms and conditions agreement. This agreement makes sure that the vendor provides adequate security to the data and the data is not leaked out or misused for any purposes. I believe all ethical companies do abide by the agreement.

  17. prabhakar_deosthali
    December 27, 2010

    Surely cloud computing using a Google Chrome like OS will be a boon for SMBs for their supply chain managment. SMBs have been generally stuck with old generation hardware and software systems and they can not keep on investing every year in upgrading the technologies. They also have to work with poorly skilled programmers and analysts because of their limited paying capacity. In such scenario Cloud appears from heaven like a god-sent angel.  No hardware investments, no software licensing costs, no manpower training. Just pay-per-use.  Only thing is that the data security and privacy of the business information lying on the cloud. For this we not only need very carefully crafted service level agreemnets but also the international legal infrastructure to enfoce legality of such agreements.

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