The Infosys global supply chain management blog enables leaner supply chains through process and IT related interventions. Discuss the latest trends and solutions across the supply chain management landscape.


January 19, 2018

Maximo Can Do Supply Chain - Unveiled!

When it comes to IBM Maximo, the first impression everyone gets is a Work and Asset Management (WAM) solution. This being true because of the rich WAM features, Industry specific solutions and Add-on solutions offered by IBM Maximo. Primarily because of this reason, IBM Maximo has been featuring in the Gartner's Leaders Quadrant for so many years. As much Maximo has been famous for its WAM capabilities, it was also known for its limited Supply Chain capabilities especially till version 6 and 7.1.

Having both Supply Chain and Work & Asset Management on one package is beneficial for customers. It means lean team for support, no complex integrations for high volume transactions (Issues, Returns) with ERP System, faster implementations, less training and less licensing cost. However due to Maximo's limited Supply Chain capabilities it was often integrated with an ERP system for even basic supply chain features like Inventory Management, Replenishment, Purchasing, Contracting & Invoicing.

Continue reading "Maximo Can Do Supply Chain - Unveiled!" »

December 26, 2017

Design Start Centers to drive Business Performance - Part II

5.     Avoid Vertical Scroll (Rows to Display): Each Resultset comes with an option of configuring "Rows to Display". Multiple factors should be considered while configuring "Rows to Display" for each Resultset since it has a direct impact on Vertical scroll.

a.       Total number of Resultsets for the Start Center; recommended number 3-5 based on the Job responsibilities of the user. If more Resultsets are there, then lesser the number of "Rows to Display" for each Resultset.

b.       Size of the Monitor of the users intended for using this Start Center (typically organizations have standard set of monitors for certain departments if not across complete organization; use this information effectively)

c.       Importance of the Resultsets (In the same Start Center, for some Resultsets you have choose 10 while for some other you can choose 5)

Main objective should be to effectively utilize the screen space; avoiding Vertical Scroll while not leaving any unused white space.

6.       Use Object Structure effectively: One of strongest features of Maximo 7.6 Start Centers is use of the Reporting Object Structures. In simple words, earlier you were able to display columns of only the base table in the Start Centers. However, with 7.6 you can show columns from multiple related tables. This is a great enhancement and can be used effectively to show relevant data from multiple tables together.

7.       Dropping irrelevant records: One of the problems of Resultsets is that the records keep hanging there if the purpose is solved. For example, record is approved or user is informed, however still the records continue to appear in the Resultsets. This leads to clogging and potential risk of missing the relevant information. To deal with it, apply appropriate filter criteria on the basis of status, dates to filter out the irrelevant records and continue to show the relevant information. Again business can provide good insights for this. For example, if you want to show Cancelled Invoices to users so that they are informed about its status. However, since there is no further action on it, they continue to appear there. So applying a filter like showing Cancelled Invoices only for 7 days and then dropping them off will keep the Resultset count under control.

8.       Use Color code effectively: If you want to highlight certain records in a different color like a Critical priority record or a record which missed SLA; then you can choose to highlight them in Red color for immediate attention of user.

9.       Use KPIs for appropriate roles: KPIs should be used when the intent is to monitor the quantity of work rather than the individual work itself. Supervisors, Managers and higher Management are more interested in tracking and monitoring the progress of work. Like Work Orders Progress for the Month or Invoice Ageing Information. Leverage KPIs for this with options like KPI Graph or KPI List View.

KPI are typically on the narrow left side of the Start Center. More number of KPIs may lead to vertical scrolling. Alternative is to provide a COGNOS dashboard.

10.       Performance is key: Users live with Start Centers Day-in and Day-out. If they take more than 3-5 seconds to load, there is a problem in the long run. The problem is aggravated because unless all the Resultsets are completed loaded in the Start Center; launching any application or opening any record won't work. So users are forced to wait till it completely loads. Therefore, avoid long running queries, optimize the queries with right indexes.

You may have certain situation where long running queries are reality and cannot be avoided.

In such case; explain the performance problem to business of the initial load of the Start Centers. And give them alternative that the information is still a click away:

a.       As a Public Query in the application

b.       As a separate Start Center which has this long running Resultset. This is not the default Start Center and users can launch it whenever they need to access it

c.       If the number of Resultsets is becoming more than 6; then also consider a second Start Center for the same Role. Pick more frequently used Resultsets in the first Start Center. You may have to create an additional Security Group just for enabling this Start Center for the Role.

d.       In case users' security profiles enables multiple Start Center tabs for them, it is best to provide rights to users to choose the Default Start Center they want to launch. It is a great feature and helps saving performance by loading the most relevant Start Center in first attempt.

11.       Bulletin Board is great for communication: Bulletin Board is optional however having Bulletin Board at the top of the Start Center is a good idea. It takes less space if nothing is there. It is a great way to communicate common messages like scheduled outages, training issue related messages, critical production issues, etc. The messages come with an expiry date so they automatically fall out after the expiry date. You may choose to post messages to all the users or a specific group of users giving the right control.

12.       Inbox Assignments needs extension: Inbox assignments are great, however they don't provide all the necessary information because Inbox is common for all the objects whether it is Work Order, Asset, DR, PO, Invoice or Service Requests. Secondly, if number of assignments in the Start Center is high, then it is not easy to quickly search through them.

To make the Inbox assignments more relevant for users, augment them with a Resultset. For example, if field users have multiple Work Orders assigned to them in the Inbox then add an associated Resultset for the Work Orders. It will give the leverage to add relevant columns for the users providing them more information which is not directly available from Inbox.

It is not advisable though to do this for all the Objects of the Inbox Assignments. Make the choice wisely based on the primary responsibility of the users.


Designing the Start Centers with above guidelines will ensure that Business is having all the critical and relevant information available to them; and will drive Business Performance.

Continue reading "Design Start Centers to drive Business Performance - Part II" »

Design Start Centers to drive Business Performance - Part I

It is Christmas time, and everyone is busy preparing cupcakes at home and enjoying time with their families. The snow storm outside turned out to be much more intense than it was predicted. With heavy snow, trees started falling down. Some of trees fall on the electrical distribution lines. Now a complete blackout in the area. You are a Maintenance Manager, so you start getting multiples calls. You create emergency work orders to attend the problem and assign them to your crew.

Your crew is disbursed in the field at multiple sub-stations. They use Maximo Start Center to monitor and prioritize their work queue. Due to design gap in the Start Center, these emergency work orders appear last in the priority and gets missed by the crew. Scary right?

Start Center in Maximo (also can be referred as Dashboard or Landing Page) is a very powerful tool. In one place, it provides information about critical tasks, alerts and actions to business users as per their roles and job responsibilities.

However, at the same time, once the Start Center starts showing too much information or irrelevant information, it tends to lose its importance. Often this is the starting point when the users start ignoring the information present there. So it is important to carefully design Start Center so that it displays meaning information which assist users in smoothly running business.

Before starting the requirements discussion for Start Center, it is a good idea to provide a walkthrough to them of the Out of the Box Start Center or a sample explaining the benefits of various Start Center features. If business has Maximo background, it will make the job easier. However still remember that Business may not provide all the information upfront because even they haven't thought through these. They will answer the questions which are asked; so guiding them through the design with the right set of questions will lead to a comprehensive design.

Given below are some guidelines for designing Start Centers which will assist Business Users in driving their Performance:

1.       Identify Roles: Study different Business Roles who will use system and understand their top 3 responsibilities. Their top 3 responsibilities will provide good insights into what the users would be interested in to see in their Start Center. This information directly drives the Resultsets, KPIs, identify Favorite Applications, identify Quick Insert Applications and Report Lists.

Of all these, Resultsets are the most important from business perspective and most frequently used. Name the Resultsets which are intuitive to business.

2.       Apply the right filters: The beauty of the notifications is lost if they are too many. Imagine dealing with 20 records vs 200 records. So discuss with Business, think through diligently and work out appropriate filter criteria which should be applied to show the records. Right set of filters will ensure that the Resultsets are relevant and usability is high

3.       Default Sorting is important: When user login to Maximo, the Start Center is loaded with all the Resultsets. In the Resultsets, most relevant records should appear at the top by default; so that users don't have to sort or search the records again. Therefore, default sorting for Resultsets is important. Most frequently used criteria for sorting is date; typically, with 2 options: Newest record at the top or Oldest record at the top. A good understanding of business is needed to carefully make this choice. If a huge backlog of work is expected for valid business reasons; then going by the oldest record at the top will almost always lead to the newest records getting least attention. On the other hand, having newest record at the top risks the chances of missing the SLAs.

Secondly, try to keep date criteria as the 2nd or 3rd sorting criteria after identifying other critical parameters which business will be more interested to see and address first. It could be based on Priority, $ amount, or Type. Business can provide good insights into it.

4.       Avoid Horizontal Scroll: Select appropriate columns which are most important to business. Keep it to a minimum number of relevant columns to avoid horizontal scrolls. Having 5-8 columns is appropriate based on the screen space available. Label the columns appropriately which makes sense to Business.

......continue on Part II

Continue reading "Design Start Centers to drive Business Performance - Part I" »

May 26, 2017

Integrated Vehicle Diagnostics Solution in Automotive Aftermarket


Ravindra Hunagund, Lead Consultant, MFGDCG, Infosys Ltd.,

Swapnil Vijay Akolkar, Lead Consultant, MFGDCG, Infosys Ltd.,

Saurabh Sharma, Senior Consultant, MFGDCG, Infosys Ltd.,

Snigdha Goyal, Consultant, MFGDCG, Infosys Ltd.,

Independent workshops have traditionally struggled to keep pace with OEMs and authorized workshops on vehicle diagnostics, tools & technology, vehicle electronic information and quality of service / parts. With EU commission systematically introducing regulatory amendments, such as the EU regulation 566/2011 which mandates the manufacturers to release and share the vehicle related electronic data for identification of exact service parts for the vehicles, a level playing field is being created where the independent workshops and authorized workshops would have to battle out to get the aftermarket share by serving varying needs of the customer. This blog brings out an integrated automotive diagnostics solution that will assist independent workshops in being competitive against the authorized repairers in this ever changing scenario.


Globally, the aftermarket is emerging as a new lucrative area for OEM's revenue as 15% of OEM revenue comes from aftermarket business, which represents 70% of OEM profit. The automotive aftermarket is mainly divided into two broad categories: authorized repair shops (dealerships) and independent workshops. The authorized repair shops are part of the dealer network providing servicing solutions, warranty programs and consuming original parts whereas independent workshops are less expensive alternative to authorized repair shops. OEMs have lost 3% of their global market share in 2015[1]. This has been possible due to the following factors:

1. Release of electronic data of repairs: According to this EU regulation 566/2011, the manufacturers in Europe automobile industry are obliged to release and share the electronic data so that an accurate identification of service parts can be done for the vehicles. The independent workshops would now have unrestricted access to the electronic repair and diagnostics data as is the case with the authorized repair shops. The ultimate goal of this regulation is to provide enough choices to the customer and encourage competition at all levels of the automotive aftermarket value chain.

2. Availability of diagnostics tools: Next generation diagnostic tools have enabled the independent workshops to service and maintain vehicles from various different brands with the same level of service quality as that of an authorized repair shop. The technicians are able to point out the exact problem in the vehicle and save time and cost for both the workshop and the end customer.

3. Collaboration with other service providers: Non-traditional players in the automotive aftermarket such as fleet operators, insurers and leasing firms are signing agreements with independent workshops, to lower their costs and channel the customers to only the contractually agreed upon independent service providers.

The market for diagnostics scan tools can be segmented as given in the figure with software based repair tools showing the most promising growth rate of 7.5% by value. The market and future for diagnostics tools looks very promising as the growth rate of the automotive diagnostic end-to-end scan tools market is projected to grow globally at a promising CAGR of 5.6% from 2015 to 2020, growing from US$3.83 Billion in 2015 to US$5.02 Billion by 2020.

Current Challenges

Challenge#1 - Lack of E2E Diagnostics: Due to absence of any single integrated aftermarket solution for fault diagnostics to parts ordering, difficult problems lead to reduction of the workshop profits and which in turn leads to backlogs which can potentially damage the overall customer satisfaction. It has been estimated that these problem cars have the potential of costing workshops $24,750 of lost business in a year

Challenge#2 - Increasing Vehicle Complexity: It is estimated that a modern vehicle has the computing power equivalent to the system which had guided the Apollo astronauts all the way to the moon. 72% of workshop owners feel that keeping up to date about the latest vehicle technologies and electronic systems is challenging

Challenge#3 - Local Fault codes to OEM codes mapping: OEM's fault codes to independent diagnostic fault codes mapping is inconsistent. If these advanced workshops are to compete with the main dealers, they would require a combination of the following three things: Getting OEM-trained skills, technology and all the vehicle information

Challenge#4 - Lack of clarity in ordering parts for given faults: Due to high level of inconsistency between the fault diagnosis and the parts required for rectification, incorrect mapping of OEM parts numbers to independent retailers there is a higher rate of parts return/re-ordering

Point of View Solution

The challenges faced by the independent workshops can be tackled by using cloud based end to end diagnostics solutions that provide a common platform for scanning a vehicle, detecting faults, ordering parts, publishing reports and generating invoices for the customer. To tackle all the challenges discussed in the previous section, Infosys based on a client engagement and market study proposes a cloud based diagnostics solution as below:


1. Workshops can service vehicles across multiple vehicle brands without having to train the technicians especially for any make or model. Having a single guided workflow application from fault detection, correction, technical data, parts ordering till invoicing can save cost and effort for the workshop and the customer

2. Tool can be accessed over laptop/ tabs/ smart phones and can be connected to any vehicle via a VCI (Vehicle Communication Interface)

3. The workshops should be required to just purchase VCIs and license for the tool and pay based on the subscription taken.

4. The tool can pull together data from multiple databases for getting repair, maintenance, diagnostics, faults-parts mapping, parts and other such information on a single platform, saving both time and cost for the workshop and the customer

5. A comprehensive diagnostics with intelligent fault-tracing can list down all the faults detected on the vehicle within minutes of starting the scan giving the technician a strong starting point towards servicing and repair of the vehicle

6. The tool can be linked with distributor's part catalog for parts selection and ordering

7. The customer can look at the readings from vital measures of the vehicle and get a printed report of the complete diagnostics

8. The tool can monitor the Telematics data transmitted from the vehicle and post maintenance alerts to the customer

9. The tool can also send scheduled maintenance alerts to its registered customers to increase customer satisfaction levels and have longer customer retention period


With favoring regulatory changes towards release of proprietary repair data, advancement of technology in diagnostics tools and reduced TCO owing to cloud based IT solutions, independent repair shops market is perfectly poised for benefiting from integrated solution covering diagnostics, fault tracing, symptom analysis , parts recommendation, integration with parts distributor's ERP and provide billing options. While a few solutions exist in the market currently, there is a definite chance to focus on extending the capabilities (Pass Through, predictive maintenance etc.) and providing end to end solution targeting repair shops giving them a competitive edge against authorized dealers.


July 12, 2016

Be ready for the drone invasion @ warehouse!

We have seen a burst of new technologies in supply chain area. Drones, advance of robots in workplaces, Internet of things (IoT) are becoming a reality. Time is ripe to induce more technology into core operations of supply chain like warehouse operations, yard operations and so on. Here I would like to discuss on how to capitalize advances made in drone technology can add value in warehouse operations. Drones are also personal interest of mine as we had experimented with a small drone in our home few years back.

Traditional warehouse managers have always been looking for ways to improve productivity of the operations and people in warehouse. Drones can significantly improve warehouse operations in the area of inventory management, yard management and safety of the warehouse. Drones can be put into use in
1. Annual stocking: In a warehouse the storage locations and pallets are bar coded. Drone which has a scanner can scan the location to confirm its position then scan the pallet label to confirm the item and quantity. Frequency is yearly and involves the entire warehouse.
2. Cycle counting: Its similar to annual stocking as the operation involves going to location and confirming the item and quantity. Cycle counting involves fewer locations in a warehouse and the frequency is few times a day.
3. Track Trailers in Yard: In large yards its time consuming to identify trailers, drones can be of big help here. They can sent out for "search operations" in a yard and using the camera in the drone operators can hunt for trailers.

Pros for using Drones:
• Increase productivity in physical counting and cycle counting. Productivity can be improved by a factor of 2X or 3X.
• Overcome safety challenges, as taking physical counting in high rack locations involves using both forklifts and humans which increase chances of accidents.
• Drones can perform the work faster and also be more accurate.
• Drones can also be used for searching and finding inventory.
• Drone can also be used for searching trailers / trucks vehicles in large yards of the warehouse.

What type of warehouse can be early adapters for Drones?
Retail, Third party logistics warehouses are ideal for Drones usage. These warehouse are typically large sites, with high rack locations which are bar coded. The warehouse layout is like typical street block with aisles and locations marked.

4 Steps to put Drones in Action:
In order for the warehouse to take advantage of drones following things are necessary
1. For Drones to move independently within the 4 walls of warehouse, the key requirement is to have physical warehouse map with details of all the aisles, rack locations and other details.
For this the crucial input is to have warehouse map which has the co-ordinates of each location. A geodesic survey of the inbound and outbound areas of the warehouse needs to be done. Warehouse map is created with x, y, z co-ordinates of all the locations. Site survey can be accomplished by civil surveyors by working in non-peak or non-work days in 6 to 8 working days. Warehouse physical map is fed into drone software. Drone can navigate using the warehouse co-ordinates. In my previous project implementing Locanis WMS we had enabled Forklift guidance system in a large warehouse.
For Indoor referencing  to increase the positional accuracy of the drones we can use beacons. The way I envisage this is we place beacons in aisles and pathways of warehouses. So whenever drones pass these beacons it will publish the exact positional co-ordinates which can be then be used for navigation.
2. Drone needs to be equipped with a scanner which can scan various bar codes stickers of different bar code standards like EAN, UCC.
3. Once the drone scans the data it needs to communicate to the WMS system or a custom software which can capture the location and inventory.
4. Drones need to communicate using a different frequency, as warehouse have other equipment's like forklift terminals, Hand held terminals, RFID devices using Wi-Fi.

Challenges for Drone usage:
• Drones can be used for inventory management functions in Full pallet areas. Using them in Carousels, multi deep pallet locations, Pigeons holes are going to be challenge.
• Warehouses which do primarily Cross docking, Break pack are also not suitable for drone operations. As the inventory is fast moving and mostly in ground locations.
• In order for drones to work in warehouse operations we need to have robust "anti-avoidance" technology. This is an important factor when drones and humans have to work in the same environment.

4 steps for inducting drones  as discussed above can form the basis of inducting drones into warehouse operations. In the near future we would be seeing more drones in warehouse working along with humans. Pretty soon I think we will see "Drone operator" as one of the job titles in warehouses across the world. Welcome to the world of warehouse drones!

Continue reading "Be ready for the drone invasion @ warehouse!" »

September 30, 2015

How will Future Maintenance be?

Tomorrow's enterprise would want to limit their efforts, energies and expertise to the areas of their core competency rather than dwelling on non-core areas. When we look at asset intensive organizations, most of these firms would want to stick to their area of expertise i.e. manufacturing/producing products of value. So, these organizations can spend their resources and energies in innovating and manufacturing products and leave the supporting areas to the experts in those areas like how IT implementations are not carried out in house as it is not their core competency.

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January 18, 2015

The Expert Talks- Sustainability


 About The Expert


Vijayaraghavan Krishnamurthy is a Principal Consultant working with Digital and Integration Services at Infosys. Vijay has worked extensively across areas spanning Supply Chain Planning and Execution. He is based out of Hyderabad, India and is closely associated with the ECO group at Infosys, working on sustainable practices. Read on as Vijay shares with us his insights on Sustainability in the context of Supply Chain Management.


Continue reading "The Expert Talks- Sustainability" »

December 3, 2014

Should we really 'Make in India'? Why & How?


Should we really 'Make in India'? Why & How?

Last month on my flight back to Pune after Diwali Vacations, I happened to read an article on Manufacturing strategy in India. The writer was a former bureaucrat of recently defunct Planning commission. It made me think have we really missed the bus, Are we too late or even if we aren't, Is it a step in right direction. Well if it is, then it should be put forward in the right manner too.

Politically speaking I have been giving cheers and thumbs up to the decisions of our Prime Minister so far. He talks about good governance, employment, growth and development so on and so forth. The article I read in my flight made me ponder on the decision to "Make in India". The motive behind the rhetoric which I think and have explained later is still naïve, is to bring and create more jobs in India, reduce unemployment and to thus solve the major problem of our burgeoning and aspirational young population. I agree that India's policy should mainly focus on creating millions of more jobs in manufacturing for the stability of India's socio-economic and political situation.

 Alas! There is a catch.....!!!!

In the present ever changing dynamics of world where new technologies can/are disrupting/replacing old monolithic production systems, It is not yet clear what our new government exactly wants from "Skill Development". Is it to predict how many technicians, mechanics or technicians or even carpenters will be needed in some years to come and precisely what skills are needed and  hence how to train those youth early?

Two kinds of technologies have combined together to disrupt the existing old conventional manufacturing monoliths. First one is the next big change which No doubt will change the dynamics of manufacturing processes. Have we heard about 3D printing lately?  It is basically manufacturing of a complete product by means of a single, automated machine, right from blueprint, prototype design, assembly and finished item. A 3D printer can make almost anything it may seem to take days, months and large skill force. Example: a complete apparel from raw material, or a complex internal combustion engine, turbine blade or even a machine gun that can fire bullets.. As a result, there are ever increasing fears that with the advent of this technology, what would be the role of human beings at operational levels as the number of jobs in manufacturing will appreciably reduce. No doubt the valuation of machines, patents, factories will reduce as newer invention of disruptive technologies but the risk of human liability is imperative. But doesn't automation kill jobs even though it creates fewer on which companies like ours exist?. No wonder enterprises come to us for (first) Cost Cutting (then) Outsourcing (through) Automation (using) Technologies (end) Blah Blah Blah.... J!

So this 'New  world order' is of cutting edge and more importantly Disruptive technology, we have to plan and devise our policy of 'Make in India' keeping this in mind.  A world in which everything is done by machines or computers is very much thinkable if not realistic. Let me try to complete my whimsical fantasy as one should also visualize what human beings might be doing in such a world, How will we earn to pay for all the products and services created by machines. A completely mechanized world, in which machines will produce machines. All this might require very few or negligible workforce. Probably the only people who will have money or will be generating it may be a handful of capitalists who own these machines, their financial managers to manage it and increase it further or their lawyers to fight for any property disputes amongst them! This might create a perpetual cycle in which power will entirely be in the hands of capitalists only, and to increase and protect their power they will replace leftover humans with more efficient and 'obedient' machines. While I have contemplated a twist in the script of Hollywood Sci-Fi flick 'Transcendence' which could have brought some more revenues to it. But I surely don't think the idea is far behind.

The second one is the Digital technology connecting widely dispersed suppliers and customers which are creating new disruptive business models in India like abroad such as flipkart, olacabs, bms. Even though things aren't as bad for our own Indian Baniya ? (Brick-mortar retail store) but the combinations of these different technologies are leading to ideation and thus invention of large networks of many small enterprises.

Hence, methods of skill development which are based on the Assembly-line production to ensure mass production through large workforce might not be the correct approach. When it's just not clear how to predict the type of these jobs in coming 5 to 10 years what are we going to teach in the program where youth's career is involved and India's future as well. The government skill development programs should inculcate in youth the ability to learn required and much needed latest technology skills in the enterprises where the jobs are being created rather than through a large system like Skill development institutes that aims for mass production by millions of narrowly skilled and certified people who may not be employable any more when they pass out from these institutes. A similar problem is faced by Indian IT companies for past several years.

Now coming on to the point from where I started the discussion: Is "Make in India" statement incomplete or flawed? India, with its large aspirational youth population must be at the forefront of the creation of new disruptive models of manufacturing. India's policymakers must envisage what shapes these new enterprises to safeguard the interests of youth keeping in mind the new technologies that might come up. The new models can be formulated on these new concepts of production management and technology. Hence we shouldn't create Jobs like old conventional model of say garment manufacturing which may lead to wastage of time, training and effort of youth at the advent of radically disruptive technology. We surely don't want to be world's largest 'towel' manufacturer!

Another challenge for us is to make the "Make in India" financially viable. Unlike China, India may not sustain to be the market place of 'cheap labor'. We have a vibrant democracy which has its roots spread till Worker Unions in each factory. The main aim of Indian policy makers must be  improving the livelihoods of all Indian citizens. So can we compete with China's Low cost manufacturing? No! Have we ever wondered about the recent decision by our Communist neighbor to abrogate one-child norm with two-child norm. Why has this been done? Is it because India will soon overtake the dubious distinction of World's most populous country? I think probably not, it's because China's working class which is primarily 'Youth' is diminishing as a percentage of country's total population. China will soon be the place of world's most populous country of old men. Hence to increase the youth's population and sustain in being world's manufacturing hub, they had to change this policy. It is an inexorable certainty.

But we must keep this in mind as well that we just can't merely aim to increase the gross domestic product (GDP). Our aim should also be that the manufacturing strategies lead to growth in jobs and opportunities for better livelihoods, not just increase the share of manufacturing output in overall GDP (which has been stagnant for years)--As that can be easily increased by some large investments in capital-intensive factories which probably the government is doing right now from back end, much to its folly. The Indian economists overriding concern must be the satisfaction of workforce and not the satisfaction of capital. Humanistic values should be core of governance policies of manufacturing enterprises in which the creation of shareholders financial value must not overrun human aspirations. Moreover, centrestage of the growth of employment should be to have it dispersed across the country into many smaller enterprises. This will lead to all round regional growth and prevent mass scale migrations and regional polarization of jobs. No doubt, their network with larger clusters must be facilitated, with which they will get the benefits of a large scale enterprise, purchasing power without losing their innovativeness and entrepreneurship.  Therefore the push through policies must be on  core strategy of supply chain design which is to drive the creation of more effective supply networks, clusters, hubs, and cooperative enterprises.

Let me offer a polemic to my earlier confabulation: Technology is the only force shaping this 'New world order' today. No doubt the production systems are changing with technology or sometimes even some business processes get re-engineered (Radically change with a need of doing away with what was done earlier to reduce costs , effort and bring efficiency). But Human need may not be completely eliminated. They will be performing new activities in the enterprises which will gradually take new forms. Technology will enabler in shaping new enterprises and may be they will ascertain my earlier concern somehow but we must agree that as more disruptive technologies are developed, human beings will remain at the center of new forms of sustainable and networked manufacturing systems.

Continue reading "Should we really 'Make in India'? Why & How?" »

October 20, 2014

Simple Measurements - Levers for Operational Efficiency Gains

Posted by Abhay Dhall, Associate Consultant (Manufacturing Vertical), Infosys Limited

The world of manufacturing is perpetually concerned with improving operational and manufacturing efficiency of a plant. A common approach is the much-used and abused lean manufacturing. Manufacturing companies think of lean manufacturing as a formula but instead it is a philosophy with many facets which can create value by reducing redundancy and non-value processes in a manufacturing system. The philosophy of reducing waste must be applied throughout the value chain of a product and not just during the manufacturing phase because by the time the product is on the shop floor, most likely it has gone through multiple unnecessary systems and processes.

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September 30, 2014

Typical Challenges in a Repair & Return Process - Part 2 ( Analysis)

Analysis & Probable Solution:

The conversation which is mentioned in the blog titled "Typical Challenges in a Repair & Return - Part 1" brings out some of the key issues which are pertinent to a repair & return process. In the following section I have attempted to classify the issues into categories and suggested possible solutions for them.

Continue reading "Typical Challenges in a Repair & Return Process - Part 2 ( Analysis)" »

Typical Challenges in a Repair & Return Process - Part 1

Very recently I was a member of a project team implementing an Asset/Inventory Management system for a well-known pipeline maintenance company in North America. In the course of the implementation I had the opportunity to interact with the business leads managing both operations and inventory functions in the organization.  During these interactions I came across many process related issues like enabling material visibility across the organization, acknowledging service receipts, tracking material movement across warehouses, material reservation by work management teams etc.  But the challenges posed in one process area stood out amongst all these and that was the 'Repair & Return' process.

Continue reading "Typical Challenges in a Repair & Return Process - Part 1" »

September 24, 2014

A Tryst with ERP Implementations

Gaining efficiencies, reducing maintenance cost, improving visibility across the company, reducing diverse IT system maintenance costs - these are some of the common reasons a company goes for an ERP implementation. Agreed, the reasons and the benefits are well thought out and the plan is all firmed up. But is it always a 'Bed of Roses'? I would say, not at all. Especially after my recent experience at a well-known oil pipeline company in North America. Immediately after the go-live we not only encountered a lot of unexpected issues especially in areas like reconciliation & document approval management, but also had to face a lot end user queries on how certain things are done in the new system. We did manage to bring the situation under control. But I would say that there were a few important lessons which I learnt from this experience which will stay with me for life. These include some of the good practices we followed which helped us and some of the improvement areas where we could have done better. The intent of this write up is to share the lessons from my experience so that it might be helpful for others embarking on a similar journey.

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September 11, 2014

Planning for EAM Application Consolidation Program

Early millennium saw a burst in various IT applications addressing the needs of Enterprise Asset Management. Over the period it became a strategic application for asset intensive sectors like utilities, oil and gas, transportation etc. However back then, both IT infrastructure and the products were in nascent stage. Typical approach was to have a standalone environments for every site or business unit. Product offered limited functionality and usually there was a small local IT team to support the application. Over the decade IT infrastructure has evolved and so has the product capability. Keeping number of data centers limited and having centralize EAM solutions seems to be a natural choice now. Organizations with multiple standalone installations of EAM solutions are at the point of infliction and consolidations of these standalone instances is proving to be a logical path ahead.

Now that organizations are gearing up for the consolidation the major concern of the stakeholders is to achieve the targeted benefits and planning plays a crucial role in this journey. In this blog I am going to focus on various stages of planning for any EAM consolidation program.

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September 8, 2014

Crafting a Digital Enterprise using SMAC stack

Last week, one of our Senior VPs, Narry, also head of Hyderabad SEZ head, forwarded an invitation for a workshop on Digital Enterprise organized by HYSEA (Hyderabad Software Export Association on 6-Sep-2014. Narry is one of the past presidents of HYSEA. Workshop being planned for a Saturday, initially I thought of ignoring, but considering the topic's relevance on the whole community around us - living and nonliving things on this planet - I decided to register. And this was one of the best learning and stimulating experiences I have had in recent past.

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June 27, 2014

Oracle Fusion Distributed Order Orchestration - The Next Gen Supply Chain Intelligence

Oracle Fusion application is the next- gen suite of enterprise resource planning from Oracle, leveraging the features and functionalities taken from Oracle E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and Siebel product lines and the suite is built on top of the Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Oracle Fusion Distributed Order Orchestration is an integral part of Fusion Supply Chain Management, which performs the Centralized decomposition/disintegration to itemize intricate orders into separate, interconnected fulfillment design targeting the multi- network, division and partner fulfillment networks.

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June 6, 2014

What's your KPI?

Asset Management, a key function, has a strong potential to influence the success of the mainstream business. However, it seems ironical that it has received little or no strategic importance. The scope of Asset Management had been limited to short or midterm goals which seldom tied back to the strategic business goals of the Organisation. Adding to this agony, very few attempts focused on identifying gaps in its orientation towards the overall business goals. One of the reasons for this loose integration I think is the overbearingness with self-centered KPIs. We all know the importance of Metrics, KPIs offers us exactly this. Firstly, it baselines the factors determining the success of an action and finally concludes with the actual measures on how one performed against these set yardsticks. Being comprehensive is very important while aligning the objective span across line of action contributing to overall success of a program. What limits this then? There are few challenges which I think needs to be accounted for

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April 8, 2014

Impact of SMAC on Enterprise Software Applications


Technologies such as Social networking, mobile, analytics and cloud computing have been shaking the IT industry for past several years. But in last couple of years, this combination of technologies together is transforming the business model. IDC calls this combination "Third Platform", Gartner calls it "Nexus of Forces" and Cognizant calls it "SMAC "- Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. This paper uses the word SMAC to represent this technology stack.

SMAC is disrupting the world. No CIO discussion is complete without considering impact of SMAC on business. Faster than ever improvements in this technology stack, are adding value to whole gamut of businesses. Advantages are many and seem very fascinating, with promises being made as large as - predicting future (Analytics), available anywhere (Mobile), everything so simple and networked (Social), and at a fraction of price (Cloud). This new technology stack has started transforming tomorrow's enterprise and has impact on each of the areas of an enterprise, hence subsequently on all the software applications used within and by the organizations.

Gartner predicts that by 2017, SMAC stack will drive more than 26% of the total enterprise software market revenue, an increase from 12% in 2012 - representing over $104 billion new revenue from this stack.

This Point of View delves into this technology stack and finds out how each of the component of this technology stack is impacting enterprise applications.

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March 6, 2014

ERP in Cloud - Hype or Hope!!!



Until a few years ago, cloud was considered only a marketing hype and did not find many takers. Decision makers and senior IT executives had deep reservations about it- especially running business critical applications such as ERPs. Today, even though cloud has made a measurable inroads into IT roadmap of quite a few organizations around the globe; it still remains untouchable for the majority- primarily for complex ERP functions. There are concerns on data security, privacy, business continuity and control. This Point of View looks at these concerns in details, while highlighting some of the key benefits such as cost advantage, flexibility and rapid time to benefit coming from cloud.

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February 3, 2014

E-retailers exploring same day delivery


You ordered a product online and it gets delivered to you by end of day. Surprised!! But you would simply say WOW!!! We as consumers would feel delighted, lot more excited and confident about e-shopping. 

In US many retailers have started experimenting with same day delivery option. Few such examples are: Google is inviting its employees in the Santa Monica area to try out its Google Shopping Express service for same day delivery pilots. Walmart exploring same day delivery option for fulfilling their online orders from physical stores. E-bay launched a similar program with shoppers who spend more than $25 at local store can pay additional $5 for same day delivery. Amazon getting closer to reduce delivery lead time with their patented 'speculative shipping' model. This blog articulates about how e-retailers can get closer to same day delivery.

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January 16, 2014

Social Media in Supply Chain....the new trend!

Guest Post by
Neha Barnawal, Senior Associate Consultant

"Stop Marketing, Start Engaging"... This line from Scott Stratten very well captures the essence of social media as applicable in business scenarios (Marketing here). One of the major advantage social media offers is engaging people and enabling them to communicate and collaborate. Apart from Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn; various Enterprise social software (as a part of Enterprise 2.0) are invariably providing platform to the enterprise stakeholders to connect, collaborate and communicate. Read entire blog here.

January 15, 2014

Maintenance Practice- A standard to be followed or adapted?

Preventive Maintenance? - The spine of maintenance philosophy, we all do it, don't we?

Predictive Maintenance? - hmm..gadgets, graphs, analysis etc. heard it's expensive, very expensive,  we don't even go near to it!

Reliability Centered Maintenance? -  Strategy, an engineering framework, failure mode analysis maybe..phew! Which fancy maintenance book are you reading these days by the way?

You might be wondering what is this all about, right? So let me tell you, this is an extract of conversation which I was having with one of my good friends, a Manager at the equipment bank of a leading construction company. Some candid responses which appeared contradictory to what I was thinking about the latest maintenance practices being followed in leading industries. Now what makes these evolving practices such as predictive maintenance and RCM dreadful names? Why is there an inhibition in leaping the boundaries and looking beyond practices such as corrective and preventive maintenance? 

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January 13, 2014

Why not WMS App?

The companies today need a Warehouse Management System (WMS) that can be implemented quickly, configured easily and which is cost effective.  Well imagine that you get a WMS solution and various functionality as and when it is required for business.  This implies - speedy implementation with no costly Upgrades! This blog explain into the benefits of new evolution in WMS adaptability i.e. WMS Apps which can help grow business by having immediate performance gains.

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September 19, 2013

Safety in Work and Asset Management- Part II

Continue reading "Safety in Work and Asset Management- Part II" »

Safety in Work and Asset Management- Part I

Safety is an important aspect of Work and Asset Management (WAM) process. The Safety standards form an important evaluation criterion for Work and adherence to the safety norms are scrutinized thoroughly. For industries like Oil & Gas, Nuclear, Aerospace, Energy and Utilities etc. dealing with high risk Assets, safety is a critical factor and a mandate to follow. So if we already have such a high standard and even a higher scrutiny, why do we keep hearing about safety related incidents? The reason here could be a missing link of control, accountability and information exchange between the Safety and WAM function. Now why do we say that? Here's why..

Continue reading "Safety in Work and Asset Management- Part I" »

September 12, 2013

Smarter Partnering for Smarter Business

IBM conducts an annual event for its business partners. Generally this is a three days event spread over one full and two half days. This event has many objectives -Connect with IBM senior leadership, understand IBM's plans and commitment towards business partners and new offerings / solutions from IBM -  to name a few. The event was in its seventh year and event participation is only invitation based. From ECS ADT, IBM invited me to attend. As I am an avid networker, hence didn't want to miss this.

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August 7, 2013

Key Asset Management trends in Oil & Gas Industry

Within Infosys, we have a renewed focus on Energy Industry which primarily involves Oil & Gas companies for us. For some time, we have been working on finding out key trends and defining strategies for next level of growth for us in this area.

Asset Management being my key research area, I took a holistic approach and reached out to many of our project teams working for Oil & Gas clients, colleagues and researcher in this area. The result was not something new and I guess majority of these trends are often seen in Asset Intensive industries. However, some trends certainly have critical importance for Oil & Gas industry.

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July 26, 2013

Importance of Proactive Master Data Maintenance in SAP SCM Support

In my current project about a year ago, North America region Supply Chain Planners were having major concerns related with flawed planning resulting from incorrect or no Source of Supply (SoS) for receipt elements such as  Purchase requisitions &/or Planned orders. These regular concerns were impacting planner community's confidence & trust with an existing APO solution & team managing it. This project was in a steady state from almost 2-3 years having Level 2 (support group based onsite at client locations) & Level 3 (support group based in offshore locations) model.

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July 1, 2013

Asset Management on Cloud

In last couple of years, within our Infosys Asset Management practice, there have been multiple discussions about feasibility of having asset management applications on Cloud. That made me getting into discussing with product managers of couple of Asset Management software providers, about the market trends, technical feasibility, clients' preferences etc. This note would summarize that discussion.

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June 20, 2013

Global Template Solution - Approach

In today's business scenario global organizations are trying to increase their footprint in every corner of the world. Even as they grow globally, their operations are substantially influenced by local business environment, processes and culture. As the organizations grow, the processes become disparate and it becomes difficult to manage operations at global level. So even though 'Globalization' is the buzzword today but it comes with its own set of challenges and one of the biggest challenge is to harmonize the operations across countries / regions and at the same time align them to meet the critical and mandatory local requirements. Organizations trying to bring process standardization and harmonization using enterprise software applications often take a "Global Template" approach; where they model their global business processes, with permissible localization, in these software applications.

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April 8, 2013

Linear Asset Management and Dynamic Segmentation- Part I

Traditional Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems always treated assets as point assets. Plant equipment, Fleets, IT assets you name it, they are all point assets and have self-sufficient programs available within most of the EAM packages to take care of their maintenance requirements. So what's the fuss about linear assets then?

Continue reading "Linear Asset Management and Dynamic Segmentation- Part I" »

March 11, 2013

Infosys Team at IBM Pulse 2013


I am back again in Vegas for IBM Pulse 2013. Last year, I covered the event live with daily blogs, but this time my whole schedule was so packed that I hardly had any time to write. Hence summarizing the whole event in one blog.

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March 5, 2013

Is Customization a Boon or Bane?

  One of the biggest challenges for an enterprise today is to constantly upgrade and optimize their IT infrastructure to cope up with the fast growing technology and never ending business demands. As the IT consumers have to transform their heavily customized old school enterprise applications to a standard technology platform, the Enterprise application developers and the Companies are having a stand of between customized application and a configurable solution.

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February 5, 2013

Adding intelligence in the Forecasting process to support Supply Chain Segmentation

There has been a growing momentum across multiple industries to move from a "one-size-fits-all" approach to a portfolio of different supply chain strategies. Companies segment Supply Chains using different attributes across multiple dimensions of product [product volume or demand variability], customer [Customer/Channel value] to design multiple efficient or responsive Supply Chains. Mr. Thomas further recommends in his blog approaching Supply Chain segmentation as an end-to-end strategy that encompasses business processes starting all the way from the Customers over to Suppliers. This also includes Demand Management process, which will be the focus of my discussion in this blog. The Demand Planning Organization which is responsible to sense, plan, manage and communicate demand needs to factor in the different Supply chain strategies that are to be employed for different segments.
Most advanced planning systems provide a suite of statistical forecast models and different parameters for the Forecaster to further fine-tune the models and in addition they also contain Best-Fit models that perform multiple iterations to choose the forecast model and its parameters that provide the lowest Forecast Error specified. There is however no easy way for the forecaster to assign these models to different segments that is available out-of-the-box. As a result, the Forecaster ends up reviewing the forecast models for every part every forecast cycle and then changes the assignment, given a change in the strategy for a particular segment.

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January 14, 2013


It is generally recommended that you plan critical products and components in SAP APO [or an APS system] and non-critical products and components in SAP ECC [or the respective OLTP system]. The critical products have some typical characteristics that can be used as guidelines to identify them: long replenishment lead times, usage in multiple Upper Level parts and A-Class products [based on ABC Classification that I had discussed in my earlier blog]. The non-critical parts are planned in ECC with the assumption that the planning for these parts does not need advanced algorithms and the parts can be procured easily and quickly on a need basis.

However this consideration misses one critical aspect - the Supply Planning Organization Structure. The above recommendation works generally well where we have planners that are dedicated to plan just these non-critical components. However, we have seen in multiple clients that the Planners are responsible for planning the entire Product Family across all the levels of the BOM for both the critical and non-critical parts. The planning done for non-critical parts in ECC requires the planners to access not only multiple transactions, but also multiple systems and then execute on the system proposals. Also, with increasingly shorter lifecycles for the components, it is getting increasingly important in the High-Tech industry to plan the components considering substitutes, before placing a buy signal to the Suppliers. We have seen that due to these reasons, the planners prefer to have both the critical and the non-critical parts being planned in APO and the proposals presented to them in a consistent manner for them to make decisions.

Continue reading "ROP using APO CTM" »

January 11, 2013

Green Supply Chain Management

                                                                GREEN SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT (GSCM) 


What is Green Supply Chain Management: Green Supply Chain Management is all about delivering products and services from suppliers, manufacturers to end customers through material flow, information flow and cash flow in the context of environment. Traditional Supply Chain Management focuses on Total Quality, optimum Cost and best service which in some way contributed to environment. Today's Green Supply chain management mandates to incorporate the environmental idea in each and every stage of the product and service in a Supply Chain. Hence Supply chain managers have a great role in developing innovative environmental technologies to tackle the problems faced by the economy on environmental problems and communicate this to every stake holder in the chain. Lean Manufacturing is eliminating waste in every stage of supply chain. It focuses on producing economically and environmentally friendly quality products which meets the customer expectation. It is the best practice to be followed since it reduces inventory, saves space and energy. Hence Lean manufacturing contributes to the Green environment. EPI is to measure the effectiveness of environmental performances of a country. This measure provides the details on how close the countries can establish environmental friendly policies and procedures.

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November 16, 2012

Headline for the 2012 Holiday Buying Season- Overcoming the Challenges of Fulfillment Complexity

Guest Post by

Bob Ferrari, the Founder and Executive Editor of the Supply Chain Matters Blog, and a periodic guest blogger on the Infosys Supply Chain Management blog.

As was the case last year, the 2012 holiday buying season will be very much about the continued leveraging power of consumers in exercising multi-channel buying preferences and technology-enabled online tools.  An equally important test as we swing into the 2012 surge will be how online, brick and mortar retailers, along with their respective direct ship suppliers, exercise capabilities in multi-location stocking and fulfillment capability.  From this author's lens, expect the 2012 holiday buying surge to yet another stress test for managing fulfillment complexity among online, retail and B2C goods providers.

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October 1, 2012

Oracle based Demand to Deliver Capabilities for High Tech Industries

Guest Post by

Rajeev Ranjan, Global Practice Head, Oracle Practice in Manufacturing Vertical, Infosys Limited

Infosys, a named Diamond sponsor, will have a major presence and will premiere its Oracle specific service and technology offerings. One of these capabilities is termed Demand to Deliver (D2D) which has been initially tailored to address supply chain business process and information technology challenges within the high tech and consumer electronics industry. I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed specifically regarding packaged D2D capabilities by Bob Ferrari, the executive editor of Supply Chain Matters blog.

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September 24, 2012

How to get more from an EAM Implementation

Earlier I wrote on a very similar topic (Why my EAM implementation is not giving me as I expected) and that included many reasons those were leading to suboptimal output from EAM implementations.  One such reason was lack of quality data in the EAM systems. Also, very often, I see clients mentioning about data cleansing, data enrichment and master data management issues in their existing EAM applications. This made our EAM team to further explore possible reasons for these requirements and find out solutions.

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September 13, 2012

Making 'Cash on Delivery' attractive to E-Retailers

It is still early days in India for the 'Online Retailing' industry. Right now the industry is fragmented as there are many players in this space. Hence there is a stiff competition among the players. One of the ways by which  E-Retailers are attracting people to buy on the net is by offering 'Cash on Delivery' (CoD) payment option. This is helping them overcome the reluctance of customers to shop on internet. This payment option tries to overcome the trust barrier which prevents customers to shop on internet.

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August 21, 2012

Enabling individual item picking in tomorrow's warehouses

Warehouses of today are facing increasing challenges in their picking operations. On one hand, they are required to support the growing e-Commerce sales where picking happens by unit (individual item or each picking). On the other, they continue to support existing store operations, where items have to be handled either in eaches or cases. Also, they are now forced to strike the right balance between the high-order-volumes-and-less-order-lines scenario of the e-comm world and  less-order-volumes-and-high-order-lines scenario of stores.

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August 10, 2012

Rapid Innovation will Differentiate the Future of Retail Industry

Guest Post by Bob Ferrari

Bob Ferrari is the Executive Editor of the Supply Chain Matters Blog, and a periodic guest blogger on the Infosys Supply Chain Management blog.

In an Infosys Supply Chain Management guest commentary in March, I commented on the fundamental reinvention that is underway in the retail industry, which comes with significant implications to current and future supply chain organizational, process and information technology capabilities and investments. Online sales have been growing at double-digit rates and the implications profoundly point to the reality that consumers prefer online tools and have shifted their shopping and buying preferences. The "Clicks and Bricks" business model is rapidly unfolding as retailers counter the juggernaut of online retailers such as Amazon.  Online providers are disrupting the retail industry because of innovation, in the true spirit of the Clayton M. Christensen book, The Innovators Dilemma.

Continue reading "Rapid Innovation will Differentiate the Future of Retail Industry" »

July 30, 2012

Oil operators and Oil services firms - time to dissolve 'internal walls'

I recently came across an interesting write-up from consultancy firm, Arthur D Little, on how a few Oil majors have re-structured their E&P ops by combining three divisions - Projects, Technology and Procurement (PTP). Calling for the emergence of a new organizational form, the paper highlights how today's battles' - increasing size and complexity of oil projects with a majority of them going over budget and exceeding schedule targets; skills shortage; and resistance to new technology adoption - can be countered by dissolving a few internal walls. The challenges gripping the industry can be effectively tackled by "...integration of all relevant Projects (including Drilling), Technology (including R&D) and Procurement units into one single, integrated global division which is then tasked with the full burden of delivery".



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July 18, 2012

Spicing up your supply chain recipe through robust Yard Management

Today, optimizing the warehouse yard does not appear to be of top priority on most CEOs' dashboards. Since Yard Management constitutes a relatively small portion of the overall expenses pie, it is easily overlooked by management. This is why a significantly high percentage of businesses today still rely on manual yard operations. However, poor Yard Management can have a direct impact on warehouse operations in the form of lost trailers, lost SKUs and loss of critical labor productivity - especially in volume intensive businesses.

Continue reading "Spicing up your supply chain recipe through robust Yard Management" »

June 29, 2012

Growing interest in sustainability from asset intensive organizations - Part 2

This post is in continuation of our earlier discussion (Growing interest in sustainability from asset intensive organizations - Part 1) with Bob Ferrari, the Executive Editor of the Supply Chain Matters Blog, on "Growing interest in sustainability from asset intensive organizations". I, along with Joanna Karlic, an Infosys intern (Infosys Global Internship Program - Instep) I am mentoring, have been looking at what the main pain points are in this area. We reached out to many of our Infosys colleagues to get their views on the scope of sustainability within asset intensive organizations. We spoke to many sustainability and business domain experts who have wide expertise working within asset intensive organizations like Power Generation, Utilities, Oil & Gas, Telecommunications and Transportation. We further substantiated their view points with our research from various other forums.

Continue reading "Growing interest in sustainability from asset intensive organizations - Part 2" »

June 21, 2012

Face book, Twitter and Asset Management

Last month, we were discussing our new Maximo Utilities Amplifier Solution with Ralph Rio, Research Director, ARC Advisory Group ( This Amplifier solution would help Electric Utilities clients in better realization of their work management goals in the area of Capital works, Budgeting, Work Scheduling, Regulatory compliance and Customer Self Service. It also brings in the much required process automation and adherence, thereby ensuring a robust process adherence and control mechanism.


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June 12, 2012

Multi - channel commerce in Europe - the next frontier for Retailers?

Retailers worldwide have tended to move steadily towards a more integrated and unified strategy around Multi-channel from the Bricks and Mortar model, moving through a Multi-channel Operations mode with channels in silos to a more integrated Multi-channel Commerce mode. The only issue has been the speed of adoption by retailers globally.

Continue reading "Multi - channel commerce in Europe - the next frontier for Retailers?" »

May 25, 2012

SAP acquired Ariba, what does it mean for the on-demand, procurement and SAP world?

When a colleague forwarded the news of SAP (finally) buying Ariba past midnight India time on Wednesday ( ), my first response
was roughly on the lines of "better late to the dance than allow Oracle to steal your partner". That said, the "Ariba on the bid block" has been now a since-2006 story ever since Oracle kicked up some serious acquisition dust during the Peoplesoft, JD Edwards, Siebel years. With IBM acquiring Emptoris and folding it into the Smarter Commerce theme, all eyes in the procurement world was on Ariba.

Over the past few years, I've watched Ariba's stunning repositioning as a serious on-demand player (yes, cloud hadn't become so fashionanble in 2007-08) with a lot of admiration, though as an SI, this meant a steadily eroding revenue pie. I've always felt that this was one good management case study of charting out a strategy and staying true to it, in spite of quarter-on-quarter setbacks.

Continue reading "SAP acquired Ariba, what does it mean for the on-demand, procurement and SAP world?" »

May 18, 2012

Confluence of IT and Business Strategy for a Transformation program

Emerging business needs and stiff competition are forcing organizations to rethink on the business strategies, often leading them to identifying avenues for improvements and towards what is known as "Transformation".  Various reasons for a business transformation would include smart ways of working, effective information sharing, continuous improvement in the operation model, availability of vital information for better decision making etc. These forms key contributors to an effective transformation exercise.  For any transformation to be successful, it is important that the key contributors are identified and implemented effectively, but how often are we sure of completely meeting our transformation objectives?  The answer is, very rarely! What did we miss then?  Was there a flaw in charting out the transformation ideologies? Or did we completely lose the business context while implementing the transformation program?
Any transformation brings with it both cultural and technology changes, making an enterprise to be extremely cautious about implementing them. Let's have a closer look at the transformation layer, with heavy reliance on IT to drive the business process, predominantly two entities  co-exist within the transformation layer; they are Business Process by itself and the IT. Business transformation is definitely an eye catcher with the top leagues in management as it negotiates well with the top line, converting their short term and long term goals and adding value to their customers thereby enabling them to stand out in the competition. Business process once optimized, it enables better ways to do things going forward. No matter everyone likes it or not, this very idea resonates well with the management.
Business Process Blueprint once ready, the IT owns the onus of translating these business processes or so called rules to ensure that they get implemented seamlessly. IT strategies need to ensure that the business process is completely adhered to. As an IT consultant, I would have myriad way to meet "my understanding" of the expected business requirements but the question is how correct is "my understanding"? How sure I can be while tracing the requirements, all by myself, back to all such related processes which are impacted by the changes I make? How sure am I that the requirements tractability would always lead me to a correct requirement to IT strategy mapping? Who would and how to sign off on such a change? Complexity further aggravates if boundaries in terms of adherence to a best of breed IT solution or package is being pictured by the management. Restrictions get further placed on the IT Implementer to adhere to a safe implementation route, the so called best IT practices.
The Business and the IT layer, having their individual goals and hence their respective KPIs, are often heading towards meeting it and with a typical nature of their execution in which one precedes the other, there is a scope of conflict with little or no scope for corrections. Getting into such situation at a later part in the game creates problems by not allowing a timely retrofit option. IT Implementation often gets done without completely analyzing the business impact, a phenomenon not completely attributable to lack of business acumen but more to do with less or no Involvement during the business blue print phase of the project. What was thought to be a best of breed business process renders to be a mere IT solution without realization of the expected business benefits. What may look good from an IT strategy point of view could actually be a business problem in the future.  How do we make things work then?

A decision on implementing transformational changes entails both IT and the Business consultants to watch out for conflicts and collaboratively implement the change. A trade-off between changes in the underlying business process or negotiating on the permissible IT System changes is imperative but if the entities work in a constructive- Iterative way, it can bring about great benefits to the whole program. There sure are challenges involved like unavailability of all stake holders to validate the change, resistance to change owing to Impact in the multiple process areas requiring revisit etc. but the Impact of not having it is damaging. These challenges could be remediated to great extent by an early partnership in the transformation program, a mechanism to ensure a collaborative working model between the IT and Business entities. They are an integral unit for success of any transformation exercise and should go hand in hand.

May 9, 2012

Supply Chain Visibility: The need & qualities of an effective system

In today's world, supply chains are no longer localized to an organization's four walls. As companies go more global for their demand and supply markets, there comes with it a spider-web of partners and dependencies. The situation gets more complex as partners may have their own processes, systems and work in their own time zones. This easily has a potential to lower the supply chain efficiency due to lack of collaboration between partners and non-availability of timely information. As a result, organizations end up either under stocked (that leads to lost customers) or overstocked (leading to unwanted inventory carrying costs).

Continue reading "Supply Chain Visibility: The need & qualities of an effective system" »

May 2, 2012

Supply Chain Control Tower Readiness- Part Two

Joint Post by

Gopi Krishnan GR, Practice Manager - Business Application and Services, Retail CPG, Logistics and Life Sciences, Infosys

Arun Kumar, Principal Consultant - Business Application and Services, Retail CPG, Logistics and Life Sciences, Infosys

In part 1 of this interview blog series with Supply Chain Matters, we have already analyzed the readiness of both IT and supply chain functional industries for the need to go for broader visibility, more timely and accurate decision-making, and predictive process capabilities which are more frequently expressed in the context of supply chain control tower (SCCT) capabilities.

In part 2 we have shared our views on the mode of expression of SCCT and our view for the best approach for adopting SCCT. Please read part 2 here.

Supply Chain Control Tower Readiness- Part One

Joint Post by

Gopi Krishnan GR, Practice Manager - Business Application and Services, Retail CPG, Logistics and Life Sciences, Infosys

Arun Kumar, Principal Consultant - Business Application and Services, Retail CPG, Logistics and Life Sciences, Infosys


With the current scenario of rapidly increasing base of business in terms of geography, customer base, varied suppliers and voracious line of products, the complexity of the global supply chain is becoming more difficult to manage.

In lieu of this, modern organizations are spending a lot to re-define the needs for broader visibility, more timely and accurate decision-making, and predictive process capabilities in their supply chain methods. These needs are more frequently expressed in the context of supply chain control tower (SCCT) capabilities.

We have expressed our views in an interview with Supply Chain Matters and posted it as a 2 part blog series on "Supply Chain Control Towers Readiness". In part 1, we have analyzed the rationale for SCCT in the IT industry as well as supply chain functional areas; and whether the readiness is coming from specific industry sectors. Please read Part 1 here.


April 27, 2012

Best practices for defining Asset Register

During last couple of weeks, I had some discussions with few of my colleagues from our Utility practice. The reason for discussion was an Asset Management consulting assignment where these folks were helping a utility company to define asset management strategies for them.

This client of ours does not have a centralized asset centric repository and information is scattered in multiple applications - leading to substandard processes, data duplication and inconsistent data - to name few of the problems.  So, this team's focus is to suggest best practices for Asset Management which may ultimately lead to selecting an enterprise package for managing their assets.

Continue reading "Best practices for defining Asset Register" »

March 28, 2012

Bricks and Clicks - The New Business Model and Supply Chain Capability for Retail Industry

Guest Post by

Bob Ferrari, the Executive Editor of the Supply Chain Matters Blog, and a periodic guest blogger on the Infosys Supply Chain Management blog.

The Economist featured an article in its February 25th print edition with the title: Clicks and Bricks. The gist of this article is one that many business and industry analysts have been frequently dwelling upon, namely that retailers are feverishly trying to reinvent themselves for this rapidly changing new age of online shopping and multi-enterprise commerce.  The stark message delivered by the Economist was: "To build a profitable online business, retailers must integrate it seamlessly with the bricks-and-mortar operations.  Many keep them separate, increasing the risk that they fail to communicate or work together properly".

Continue reading "Bricks and Clicks - The New Business Model and Supply Chain Capability for Retail Industry" »

March 8, 2012

Infosys team at Pulse 2012 - Day 3 (Last Day)

Today was the last day of the conference and Pulse was open only until 4 PM. We saw large crowd coming to our booth which kept all of us busy throughout the day. We had our speaking session on our solution on Pipeline asset Integrity Management and some IBM meetings as well. A very packed day today and lots of running around from one room to another along with last minute rush on our booth made me lose my notepad on which I had my notes from general session in the morning.

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March 7, 2012

Infosys team at Pulse 2012 - Day 2

Suddenly woke up at 3 AM and could not sleep further. Seems I am having jet leg after 3 days of my travel, not sure how my body's chemistry work. Finished some work, emails.  Saw the sun rising from behind the mountain. Googled some review comments for my hotel - Tropicana, and people have totally different views on sun rise. Nobody wanted to have sun rays coming to Tropicana hotel room and wake them up. After all who wants to wake up early, after spending enough time and money previous night on slots machines in Sin City. It is only people like me who come to Vegas to attend these annual conferences on a business visit and attend stream of sessions, meetings and have to finish their regular office work as well. In spite of all of these, we all love to come back to Pulse again and again, year after year. Gopi GR, our previous Maximo practice head who also incubated Maximo practice within Infosys, yesterday said it is like an annual pilgrimage for maximo folks. For me, it is meeting my clients, friends and learn new Maximo and related products advancements.

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March 6, 2012

Infosys team at Pulse 2012 - Day 1

Woke up with a nice sunrise view as seen from my hotel (Tropicana Las Vegas) window. Had to skip the general session for some unavoidable reasons. Heard from other folks that it was quite interesting which was more on gaining visibility, control and automation to enable Business without limits.


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March 5, 2012

Infosys team at Pulse 2012 - Day 0

I am back again in Vegas for IBM Pulse 2012. Though I have attended all Pulse events since its inception in 2008 (last year I gave it a miss), it still looks new every year.  Probably every time a new interesting theme from IBM makes it worth attending. Also, the horizon of the event is increasing every year, which makes it more exciting. This year, 7000+ people are scheduled to attend this event.


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February 10, 2012

Make your Assets Green, as Dollar is Green

In some of my recent conversations with clients and colleagues, while discussing asset management, we also discussed "green" which was little unusual some time ago in EAM context, but not any longer.

Continue reading "Make your Assets Green, as Dollar is Green" »

February 8, 2012

A New Lens for Supply Chain Roadmaps

Enterprise-wide supply chain transformations begin with a clear articulation of business objectives that the program is expected to achieve. They expand into an analysis of revenue-accruing & cost-optimizing functions, and result in the identification of capabilities that the organization aspires to develop or enhance. Distillation of such capabilities leads to the establishment of the right solution set (package or custom solution) through an evaluation of alternatives. Finally, a phased roadmap is laid out that sequences the timelines and roll-out of identified solutions. After spending nearly a year to narrow down the roadmap and solution set, the execution phase begins with the actual implementation and roll-out of the identified solutions in a phased manner. This structured approach has been followed for a long time with very good results. And when results turn out not so good, 'execution' gets blamed.

Continue reading "A New Lens for Supply Chain Roadmaps" »

February 6, 2012

Supply Chain Agility - Is it for Real?

Supply Chain Agility represents how fast a supply chain responds to the changes in environment, customer preferences, competitive forces etc. It doesn't talk about random variations in executing day-to-day supply chain operations. It rather  specifies how a company's supply chain responds to changes,  once business is aware of external changes which can negatively/positively affect the business in achieving its objectives. It is a measure of how companies adapt their supply chain to these changes and then how fast it is able to achieve it.

Supply Chain Agility comes with a cost and sometimes that cost might be huge enough to turn down the profitability. Companies have to decide how much agile the business has to be and where in the value chain they need agility and whether it  fits in well with overall strategy of the company.

Continue reading "Supply Chain Agility - Is it for Real?" »

January 5, 2012

Has Best of Breed WMS Won the Race?

It is the time of the year when you look back at the predications that were made and how they turned out. I am just going to look at a prediction that was made a while back. In 2006 the analyst community predicted that gap between the Best of Breed (BOB) WMS and ERP WMS has narrowed significantly and it was just matter of time before the ERP vendors caught up with the BOB vendors (1). Today after 5 years the gap still exists (if not widened) and BOB WMS vendors continue to lead the race.

Continue reading "Has Best of Breed WMS Won the Race?" »

December 30, 2011

The Real Headline for the 2011 Holiday Buying Season- Need for Balancing Retailer Online and Fulfillment Process Investments

Guest Post by

Bob Ferrari, the Founder and Executive Editor of the Supply Chain Matters Blog, and a periodic guest blogger on the Infosys Supply Chain Management blog.

In late November Supply Chain Matters penned a guest commentary on the Infosys Supply Chain Management blog that outlined our belief that retailers should anticipate different supply chain fulfillment capabilities for the upcoming 2011 holiday buying season. Because of the reality of a rather challenging year of supply chain disruptions in 2011, we warned on the possibility of retailers not having the most popular and desired products the consumer wanted because suppliers would fall short of meeting holiday demand spikes.  We further noted that the upcoming 2011 holiday buying season would once again drive home the premise that MCO and responsive supply chain inventory management are often the best complement to effective multi-channel and online commerce plans.

Continue reading "The Real Headline for the 2011 Holiday Buying Season- Need for Balancing Retailer Online and Fulfillment Process Investments" »

November 2, 2011

The Upcoming 2011 Holiday Buying Season will again Test Retailer MCO and Supply Chain Capabilities

Guest Post By
Bob Ferrari, Executive Editor, Supply Chain Matters blog

Just about a year ago,I penned a guest posting on the Infosys Supply Chain Management blog that commented on the pending 2010 holiday buying season and how consumers would test retailer multi-channel operations (MCO) and synchronization. In our commentary, we cited three trends that would manifest themselves in 2010, namely.
1.Far more value-oriented shoppers would embrace just-in-time shopping techniques, balancing perceived best price with product availability.
2.A more empowered consumer who would gain the information advantage by deeper utilization of online shopping and research tools.
3.The state of product demand planning and inventory management among retailers becoming more advanced.

Continue reading "The Upcoming 2011 Holiday Buying Season will again Test Retailer MCO and Supply Chain Capabilities" »

September 8, 2011

Multi-Channel Commerce: Not viral yet, but definitely diffusing

Yesterday, I, along with a couple of my team members, had the opportunity to present the progress on our Distributed Order Management (DOM) solution to Kris, our Executive Co-Chairman (and CEO till last month). Kris's objective was to understand the solution innovation in what we have done - i.e, building a Reference Implementation on the foundations of Sterling Commerce's base DOM product offering.

This Reference Implementation has been our answer to clients increasing need to get onto the Multi-Channel Commerce (MCC) bandwagon. We've had some good successes of late focusing on the merits of starting off the blocks with a reference implementation in an agile-like manner (I use such terms carefully!) as against blue-sky sessions with a bunch of assorted business analysts and their managers with highly varying interest levels with the finished product looking nothing like what each person there had envisaged in his/her mind.

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August 27, 2011

Product Allocation Planning - Managing supply constraints

In my last couple of posts (here and here), I wrote about features of a good FG product allocation planning tool, and the strategies surrounding setting up the right process for it.

The focus was on setting parameters like product groups, customer groups, planning horizon and frequency.

The next important question is how to effectively distribute supply amongst multiple demand channels during periods of constrained supply.

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August 25, 2011

Role of EAM Packages in Smart Grid - Part 2

This is in continuation of my previous blog on Role of EAM packages in Smart Grid.

This note of mine is focused on debate of ownership issues of Asset Register - where asset date to be kept - EAM system or GIS or both based on data classification.

Continue reading "Role of EAM Packages in Smart Grid - Part 2" »

August 22, 2011

Random ramblings and learnings from gATP implementation in a CPG setup

Our two and a half year Supply Chain transformation journey with a leading CPG player in the industry is coming to a much anticipated eventful, yet a successful end. While the 7 rollouts of scale and scope of Global ATP project were crucial watershed moments in the program, the intervening period was completely marked by emotions such as surprise (at customers asking some feature bordering on the ridiculously "impossible"), suspense (when we were unsure of meeting seemingly challenging targets of volumes of work and tight deadlines), despair (when sometimes we discovered we were closing all doors to possible solutions to a business problem), hope (when tired minds in the project started looking at problem laterally giving glimmers of a solution) and exhilaration ( when we as a team miraculously came over a challenge that we surprised everyone with including ourselves). The mix of emotions that we as consultants went through was akin to a high-adrenalin Hollywood or a Bollywood blockbuster.

As we close in on the curtains for the program, let me share some thoughts and learnings that could make such programs have a better success rates in future

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August 19, 2011

Supply Chain Management- The Ideal Breeding Ground for Cloud?

The market for cloud-based services is expected to reach nearly $150bn by 2014. Gartner expects that one-fifth of all businesses will own absolutely no IT assets by 2012.

Manufacturing companies around the world, with their inherent penchant for low IT budget, are paying much closer attention to cloud computing and its potential value to supply chain processes - from sourcing to after-sale service.

Supply Chain Management space is, according to me, the ideal breeding ground for cloud computing. Let's explore how and look at its impact on various facets of supply chain management in a manufacturing company. Let us also look at some of the pitfalls that should be avoided.

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August 10, 2011

Role of Consolidation in Supply Chain Management - An Enterprise Architecture View Part 2

Now that that the impact of consolidation on people, process and technology in supply chain management has been analyzed,(refer my previous blog on this topic), the next area to focus on is role of consolidation of business architecture building blocks in supply chain execution.

A)  Consolidation of Business Rules for effective Supply Chain Control
As supply chain organizations are becoming more and more global with greater customer focus, business functions and processes need to respond the changes appropriately. As a result of this business dynamicity, every day presents new challenges to the Enterprise Architect to maintain or improve supply chain effectiveness.

One of the key challenges among them is to provide better control by globalizing processes and technologies, but at the same time remaining flexible enough to accommodate local processes, language, compliance etc variations. This is not an easy task for Enterprise Architect since critical analysis of consolidated business rules, processes and governance is required to distribute them across the global and local boundaries.

Continue reading "Role of Consolidation in Supply Chain Management - An Enterprise Architecture View Part 2" »

July 19, 2011

Green supply chain - Reverse logistics and Package-less for Quick-wins

This is continuation to my previous blog. In this blog we can see Reverse logistics and Packaging in detail, which can give quick results to the green vision.

What have you done after finishing Pepsi, Coke or Dominos? Yes, tossed the can/bottle/box into litter-box. You do not need it once the contents are over. At the same time you cannot have drink alone without can or bottle, or Pizza delivered without a box.

Continue reading "Green supply chain - Reverse logistics and Package-less for Quick-wins " »

July 5, 2011

Is Inventory the "necessary evil"?

In my earlier blog, I had highlighted the following challenges most of the Supply chain professionals face across multiple dimensions from a Customer Service perspective:
1. The drive towards Globalization has resulted in the focus to not only look at the developing markets for cheap supply, but also to tap these developing markets to drive future growth. These newer markets do add to the overall growth of the organization, but also pose newer challenges in meeting the customer demand satisfactorily
2. Increasingly demanding customers with information at finger tips and lower brand loyalty
3. Increased channels to service the customers with varying degrees of Customer Service expectations
4. Intense competitive activity driving lower prices and reduced scope for differentiation
5. Increased pace of product innovation - rapid new product introductions combined with rapidly reducing product life cycles.

Continue reading "Is Inventory the "necessary evil"?" »

June 22, 2011

Going green - a Marketing gimmick, Cost saving tool or Sustainability?

Long time back, when I was managing shop-floor operations, I was asked by a senior production manager from another company "Why do you give so much importance to green in your operations, whereas it is a marketing gimmick for many?" My answer to that was it has a marketing angle, cost saving potential and is a sustainable approach. Is it true? Yes, there was a time when green initiatives always used to fall in the tail end of organizational initatives' presentations . But now it is more likely found on the initial slides of such presentations.

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June 14, 2011

Supply Chain Analytics Fact, Fiction or Fantasy

Supply Chain Analytics is a very hot topic today and has gained considerable mindshare among our customers too. I can vouch for this interest across sectors Retail, CPG, 3PL and even large agri based players from customer interactions we have had over last few months. But analytics as an area and current idea of the same from different quarters reminds of the old Indian fable where blind men perceived and described the same giant elephant as akin to different and unique objects. The story is the same about Analytics as a subject (would dare not call people blind here!). Too many areas/subareas have been attributed to analytics and claimed to be a part of analytics.
Broadly what analytics leads to is superior business performance through data driven intelligence. In order to achieve the different levels of intelligence(simple to advanced predictive analytics), it requires an organizational dimension based on inputs in terms of Processes, Policies, Procedures and  Practices( incidentally 4Ps).Also it requires a computational dimension fired by data. Both of these dimensions form the basis of the analytical intelligence an organization can leverage on. It is this intelligence which leads to insights for a supply chain planner or a warehouse manager for him/her to act up on in such a way that it leads to superior performance.
I would touch up on few of perspectives on Supply Chain Analytics( few prevalent already and few emerging) in this blog series.

Continue reading "Supply Chain Analytics Fact, Fiction or Fantasy" »

What's on the Minds of Supply Chain Teams- A Perspective Derived from this Past Conference Period

Guest Post by

Bob Ferrari is the Executive Editor of the Supply Chain Matters Blog and Managing Director of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC.  Bob is a guest contributor to the Infosys SCM blog.

This spring's supply chain conference season is drawing to a close and it has been a rather busy one. With the economy and optimism slightly improving in the U.S., conferences dedicated to supply chain came back in a resurgence during this first part of 2011.
It seems that the topic of supply chains, along with their capabilities, challenges and shortcomings contrasted to a continued era of business volatility has once and for all become a common theme for discussion and discourse.  In this Infosys guest commentary, I will summarize what I found to be common themes and topics of discussion among supply chain and procurement professionals these past weeks.

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June 3, 2011

What Products Should Be Campaign Manufactured?

Every marketer dreams of a manufacturing facility that is without any constraint. If marketing people had their way, they will expect all the products available "On Demand" whenever customer places order. However real life manufacturing does not work on such utopian considerations. Every manufacturing facility in the world, howsoever sophisticated it may be, has some constraints. Hence not all products can be made manufactured "On Demand". By extension few products have to be manufactured in Campaigns. By Campaign, I mean, manufacturing them at set frequency (Example - Once every quarter at scheduled date). Forecasted demand between campaigns is aggregated and campaign quantity decided accordingly. Campaign manufacturing is common practice across all types of manufacturing - Discrete, Repetitive and even Process manufacturing. This is because every technical asset has some sort of limitation and cannot manufacture everything "On Demand".

Continue reading "What Products Should Be Campaign Manufactured?" »

May 30, 2011

HazMat in SCM Needs to Worry About New Tech Impositions!

During the last couple of weeks, I have been associated with the brainstorming around how best to manage Hazardous Waste or Material (HazMat) for a major US retailer. The client management team is focused on having a solution that covers HazMat of all kinds across the enterprise since that is the core KPI of the department. Most of our initial discussions have been around two threads:
1. Understanding our Point of View on Reverse Logistics (RL) since HazMat typically need to flow in the opposite direction of the regular product supply chain flow
2. Figuring out whether SAP EHS solution is the best bet versus IBM Sterling Commerce RL capability and IBM Maximo's work management capability.
Personally, I wasn't too keen on going for either of these approaches.

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May 28, 2011

Infosys @ IBM Software Days, Dubai

I am just back from attending the IBM event - Software Days at Dubai.

Infosys was one of the GOLD sponsors of the Event. Primarily meant to show case the Smarter Planet initiative, the event had a reasonably good participation from customers and partner community. Apart from the 8-9 partner's stalls, IBM had put up separate stalls to show-case their capabilities in various verticals like Government sectors (I found the smart city story from Rio de Janeiro quiet interesting- too good to believe! This can potentially take E-governance to the next level), Retail sector (Sterling Commerce et al) and Natural resources.   

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April 27, 2011

Role of Consolidation in Supply Chain Management - An Enterprise Architecture View Part1

 Consolidation in Supply Chain Management: The Focal Point of Chain Effectiveness

I don't wear spectacles, but I do understand the pain my friends and colleagues undergo because of incorrect power, or in physics terms, focal length of spectacle lenses. It not only creates blurred visibility but also impacts effectiveness in responding to external changes. The role of right "level of consolidation" is similar in providing right supply chain visibility and ensuring its effectiveness. Over a few blogs, starting with this one, I plan to cover how level of consolidation defines harmony between supply chain players within its ecosystem.

Continue reading "Role of Consolidation in Supply Chain Management - An Enterprise Architecture View Part1" »

April 21, 2011

Is Customization a bad word?

I remember attending a session on the topic "How much customization is too much" in one of the Maximo events last year.  While the presenter during the event finally concluded by saying that (i) innovative and easy customization approach in Maximo leads client to make changes to Maximo, (ii) Customization is avoidable as there is no 100% fit for any package and (iii) suggested some best practices to avoid and deal customization requirements.

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March 30, 2011

Memory Centric Business Analysis and Supply Chain Visibility: One Complementing the Other

Growing data analysis need of business users was evident when a super user expressed the desire to generate an operational report which will not only help him to know how many units of a certain product did a business unit sell in a retail store in Irving, Texas but would also state how much revenue did that product generate during the last four months broken down by individual months, in the south west territory by individual stores, broken down by promotions and demographics, compared to estimates (previous forecast) and compared to the sales of a previous version of a similar product.

The above user request clearly validated that today's decision managers must be able to analyze data along any number of business dimensions, at any level of aggregation, with the capability of viewing results in a variety of ways. They must have the ability to drill down and roll up along the hierarchies of multiple business dimensions.


Continue reading "Memory Centric Business Analysis and Supply Chain Visibility: One Complementing the Other" »

February 26, 2011

Infosys EAM Team at Pulse 2011 - Annual Maximo User Conference

Next week, starting Feb 28th till March  2nd, I'll be at Las Vegas attending Pulse 2011 conference. Pulse has been the stage over the last few years where IBM has propounded the use of Maximo as THE one solution for all asset management blues, regardless of asset categories (MRO/facilities/IT), industry vertical you may belong to or modular footprint (work management vs inventory management vs procurement, for eg). We are a Gold sponsor this year and you can meet me and my colleagues at booth # 305. We have a host of activities lined up :

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February 23, 2011

Forecaster ABCs - The 'Vital Few' for Forecasting

Lets travel back in time in the 19th century, to take a quick look at the very interesting observation made by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto - 20% of the population possessed 80% of the country's wealth and the same was observed for other countries and over different periods of time. This has been known widely as the 'Pareto's Principle' or the 80/20 rule or the 'Law of Vital Few'. This principle has been adopted in the ABC Classification, which also happens to be the topic of my blog, with the 'A' group items [the 'vital few' representing 20%] contributing to 80% of the phenomenon, the 'B' group [representing 30%] contributing to 10% of the phenomenon and the 'C' group [the 'trivial many' representing 50%] contributing to only 10% of the phenomenon.

This law asserts that the outputs are not always equal as the inputs; that a small set of inputs, contribute or influence significantly the outputs. The principle plays an important role in depicting the imbalance, which may be 70/30, 80/20, 95/5 or 80/10, 90/30 or any set of numbers in between. The key to note is that this relationship is between two different sets of data [input & output or cause & effect] and hence need not add up to 100.

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February 14, 2011

Getting Serious about Supply chain collaboration

Based on the various client interactions & inquires so far, I  can say that organizations are getting very serious about collaborative  relationships with their suppliers and are investing a great deal of their time & resources in strengthening the relevant processes. In this blog, I share my thoughts on the market direction & activity in this space.  Supply chain collaboration is nothing new in the world of competitive supply chains, but collaborative relationships have so far been limited to mature and large suppliers. They were limited to suppliers  who can afford, and are mature in terms of IT infrastructure, to be connected with EDI. Organizations have realized that even smaller suppliers are important to be ahead in this competitive landscape, as disruptions from their end could potentially disrupt the entire supply chain.

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January 2, 2011

Supply Chain Modeling- the real possibilities

The chains of habits are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.

Can Existing Supply Chains be Modeled for Results?

There are a variety of supply chain models, which address both the upstream and downstream processes. The SCOR is one such model.

The SCOR or Supply Chain Operations Reference model, developed by the Supply Chain Council, measures total supply chain performance. It is a process reference model for supply-chain management, spanning from the supplier's supplier to the customer's customer.It includes delivery and order fulfillment performance, production flexibility, warranty and returns processing costs, inventory and asset turns, and other factors in evaluating the overall effective performance of a supply chain.

The Global Supply Chain Forum (GSCF) introduced another Supply Chain Model. This framework is built on 8 key business processes that are both cross-functional and cross-enterprise in nature. Each process is managed by a cross-functional team, including representatives from finance, logistics, production, purchasing, finance, marketing and research and development. While each process will interface with key customers and suppliers, the customer relationship management and supplier relationship management processes form the critical linkages in the supply chain.

Supply chain leaders must investigate current business processes and practices for fitment to SCOR. When Supply chains can be measured in terms of dollars and units, metrics and parameters - modeling for results and cross-functional collaboration happen.

Performance is a function of defined process, its constraints and outcomes. Consistent results and lost opportunities must be recorded for sustaining benefits. Modeling is just the begining of a journey to create a successful and un-surprising Supply chain. Changes to behavior in decision-making is the point when one can be certain that their Supply chain model is working.

January 1, 2011

Asset Management Predictions for new decade

As we are welcoming the New Year 2011, I tried to figure out what Asset Management software users (mainly Asset Intensive organizations) should look for from their Asset Management implementation in next few years. Based on my experience from some direct & indirect client interactions in last couple of years, I tried putting together a list of trends and here is the synopsis.

Continue reading "Asset Management Predictions for new decade" »

December 31, 2010

Partnering with Honda at Supply Chain World Conference in Singapore: a lot to learn about high-growth markets

This blog of mine is quite different from all my blogs. Instead of trying to analyze what trends I see or what directions I construe in supply chain management, here I will share with you some of my experience during a recent presentation at the Supply Chain World Conference in Singapore. We (Infosys and Honda) were invited for presenting at this conference on some of the innovations carried out in supply chain inventory optimization and distribution lead-time management

Continue reading "Partnering with Honda at Supply Chain World Conference in Singapore: a lot to learn about high-growth markets" »

December 25, 2010

When and How to Use "Best Fit Model" in Your Statistical Forecasting Suite?

Most of the Demand Planning applications like SAP APO, i2, Manugistics, Demantra etc offer statistical forecasting as one of their major differentiating functionality. Statistical forecasting generates the forecast for future periods based on history data provided. Lots of algorithms are on offer in these suites. Sometimes as many as 30 to 40 different algorithms / methods / Forecasting Strategies (All are different terms used for same thing) are on offer.

Continue reading "When and How to Use "Best Fit Model" in Your Statistical Forecasting Suite?" »

December 15, 2010

How to define boundaries for Supply Chain Operations between EAM & ERP

Recently some of my Infosys colleagues attended MUWG (Maximo Utility Work Group) conference and while they shared their experience about the conference, they mentioned about one of the most discussed topics which was "how to define boundaries for supply chain operations between EAMs & ERPs".

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December 11, 2010

Distributed Order Orchestration implies channel reduction?

The other day, a colleague of mine sent me the brochure of Oracle's fresh pitch to the multi-channel world titled "Oracle Fusion Distributed Order Orchestration - The New Standard for Order Capture and Fulfillment". While the DOO terminology is a slight tweak on the more popular Distributed Order Management (DOM), I read through and noticed a fundamental difference in the pitching of the offering. The text goes thus:

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November 29, 2010

Parameters to design your supply chain organization

This blog of mine is somewhat related to my earlier blog that talked about if companies run unique supply chains for each market segment. Staying on a similar subject, I want to ask few questions about designing a supply chain organization. Suppose you are the head supply chain for a global organization with operations scattered almost everywhere and fairly complex supply chain network. How would you decide which organizational structure is best suited to your company? And as the company grows in scale and size, how would you ensure that you keep pace with the growth and your organizational structure is aligned to enable this growth. I have listed few parameters that I think must be critically examined before arriving at a structure that is scalable, flexible and robust enough to fuel company's growth in the desired direction. I don't think that this is an exhaustive list and I look forward to hear from you all - about the parameters that you feel are really important and worth capturing. I understand that it will vary drastically from one company to other, but I have tried to capture the one that I felt are the 'must haves' and fairly common across multiple industry segments. Please do share your comments and provide your inputs - Read on...

Continue reading "Parameters to design your supply chain organization" »

November 17, 2010

Apple-Foxconn: Strategic partnership or a hard-to-get-out-of relationship?

It all starts with a desire to forge a long term partnership. The supplier impresses you (the customer) with his ability to do what it takes to exceed your expectations - ramping up volumes at a push of a button; reducing time-to-market; pushing cost down or not flinching to make capital investments just so that you get the desired quality....and then comes a day when you realize that the long term partnership has morphed into a dependency that you cannot get out of; at-least not without a painful divorce proceeding. Was Apple in this frame of mind when Foxconn attracted a spate of negative publicity recently?    

Continue reading "Apple-Foxconn: Strategic partnership or a hard-to-get-out-of relationship?" »

November 8, 2010

Order Management: Deeply rooted in Supply Chain

In this blog I would try to put forth my understanding on the point as to why Distributed Order management is deeply rooted within the supply chain function and why to me it turns out to be a founding member of the SCM club.My thought process strated here.  This is an attempt to draw parallels or bring out the core SCM areas Order Management addresses and also talk about few classic supply chain concepts from which the OMS way of problem solving has emanated from. I believe manufacturing is the genesis of all Supply Chains so excuse me if my points/cues are skewed and towards planning in Manufacturing.

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November 4, 2010

Why my EAM implementation is not giving me as I expected?

Enough has been written on this but mainly in context of ERP. There have been many reasons given- toppers are lack of training, lack of top management commitment, poor package fitment and, unrealistic expectation etc. While, most of these hold good for EAM packages as well but I see two other reasons which are also the major factors for EAMs; (i) Master Data Management (ii) ease of use.

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October 29, 2010

How far "Pull" concept should drive your Supply Chain Activities?

In this blog I will try to answer one of the most pertinent question every supply chain operating manager face in his or her day to day working. To set the context consider a simplistic model of a manufacturing supply chain.

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October 25, 2010

Impact of Social Media on Supply Chain

We recently concluded our All Hands Meet where I got an opportunity to meet my fellow colleagues from a practice called Next Gen Commerce. As the name suggests, it is associated with clients that are aggressively forward looking and ready to take bold steps in leveraging new technologies and venture into new domains to gain consumer mind share. One of the great things that I heard was about how companies especially in developed economies are trying to capitalize or monetize information that's available on net - basically using what we all call "social media" to gain competitive advantage.
While I was thinking all this and trying to imbibe all great things that I heard, I was wondering if there could be an impact of social media on supply chains. This blog of mine is therefore of an exploratory nature (since I have little awareness on this subject) where I would like to share my thoughts and seek your inputs and comments.
I am sure Social media is something that all of us know in bits and pieces, and it touches our lives today in some form or the other. The typical examples of social media are facebook, twitter and blog sites such as ours. Some of these are subject-specific and lot of these are fairly generic and provide a platform for people to share their experiences, ideas and opinions in this borderless world. Although, it is just a platform for people to exchange information, but I am sure, it has a powerful influence to businesses and of course, to supply chains.

Continue reading "Impact of Social Media on Supply Chain" »

September 9, 2010

How to set your Safety Stock Policies?

Every distribution warehouse in supply chain network holds inventory and has some safety stock maintained. How much safety stock or inventory should be kept at each warehouse is the topic I am going to address in this blog. In fact my focus will be on one common mistake that is made in the process of setting inventory and safety stock norms.

Continue reading "How to set your Safety Stock Policies?" »

July 12, 2010

Postponement strategy: what are the key drivers and design elements

Through this blog, I would like to share critical drivers and few design principles for a right postponement strategy and urge each one of you to give comments, share your opinion and point of view.
As most of us know, postponement is one of the strategic initiatives adopted by companies to build an AGILE supply chain. There are various ways in which companies adopt postponement in supply chain. More prominently, it can either be a Manufacturing postponement that aims at delaying the differentiation in product offerings to customers or a Location postponement where goods are customized either at factory or a DC based on physical proximity to customer locations. Ultimately, it's about postponing some value-adding supply chain activities until a customer order is received.
Why do companies resort to this strategy? What's so special about it and what are its pros and cons? Please read on and do let me know your experience - really look forward to read your comments ...

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July 9, 2010

Rx for Healthcare Supply Chain part 2

In my last blog entry, we addressed core SCM concerns like special transportation needs, inventory management and reverse logistics and how these are instrumental for an efficient healthcare function. Breakdown at any point in this function has life or death implications. Taking this discussion further, let us touch on the need in this sector to collaborate better to leverage on the supply chain efficiencies of the intermediaries involved.

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July 8, 2010

Would SCM be a differentiator in your Apps Portfolio?

Dennis Gaughan of Gartner in his blog dated 29-Jun-2010 wonders whether its time for corporations to rethink their enterprise applications portfolio strategy ( Well, I think organizations are thinking about it all the time, sometimes when they do their annual planning and are reminded of the morass in their application landscape and sometimes thanks to M&A (esp for financial institutions) forcing them to look at what to sunset and what to fold in.

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Rx for Healthcare Supply Chain

Healthcare has been a market defined by its own challenges. It also has customers (its patients), and being in business of saving lives, the emphasis on value creation, customer service and profit motive is in no way insignificant to other sectors. Even so, it remains strikingly similar to the conventional market place.  In the context of our discussion, this blog entry in two parts looks at healthcare supply chain which comes with its share of complexities.

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July 1, 2010

Contract Negotiations - The Trust & Technology factors!!

If government policies dictate supply chains, Contracts are the essential glue that keeps the supply chains chugging. After-all, without a contract in place, no sane buyer and supplier is going to transact for long. For the past two months that I have been swamped in contracts - one recently signed with a client and the second one currently under intense negotiations with a product vendor - I have realized how painstaking the negotiation process can be; particularly when the stakes are high, when uncertainty prevails due to complexity of work and geographical barriers and when you do not have a past relationship.  

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Sell-side Supply Chain and the importance of User Experience

Of late, I've been trying to think through the root cause of some of the customer specific expectation mismatches we faced on the web-commerce side in a couple of our accounts. Around two years back, fueled by Sterling Commerce's acquisition of Comergent in the B2B e-commerce space (Order Capture offering, later re-christened into Sterling Commerce MCS or Multi-Channel Selling) and by a few opportunities in ATG Commerce, we at SCM Practice moved into the front-end of sell-side supply chain, both B2B and B2C. Among the most important of all the learning we've had since then have been the important of user experience at this end of the supply chain.

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June 28, 2010

Tight rope walking: The supply and demand balance

Most of us in SCM have always been intrigued by the balancing act of supply and demand. Whereas production, quality, suppliers, warehouses, logistics and Engg (new product development) groups have been groaning about their constraints for replenishing the market requirements, the markets have never ever been constant.  So, when the markets show sudden changes or a gradual shift which exerts pressure on the "demand", the SCM professional has to devise ways and means to see how they can maintain the balance.

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June 10, 2010

Sterling Commerce folds into IBM - an Infy perspective

Ever since the IBM acquisition of Sterling Commerce (, the standard questions I get asked is essentially variations around the theme of suitability and impact on our practice - Wasn't this acquisition purely for the BIS B2B integration piece which suddenly gives IBM access to 18,000 customers? Was the SCM piece of Sterling Commerce some kind of an afterthought or collateral benefit, if you may? If at all, it would fit in, where would it be? And most importantly, what happens to Infosys next, being by far (by a few light years, if I may say so myself) the leading player in Sterling SCM package related services in the SI space?
Let's get to the last question first. 

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June 7, 2010

Differentiators in the Transportation Management System solutions

Recently a client of ours had asked a question, which TMS solution provides us with the best capabilities. There are multiple TMS solution providers in the SCM space such as i2, Manugistics, SAP, Oracle, Red Prairie, Manhattan. Though all claim to be unique in their own respects and provide a bundle of functionalities, but there is a common search for the best. The question usually rests with the respective consultant's ability to grasp the depth of the product, client needs and the client's views of the product's alignment to the business goals. So, this blog corresponds to me putting down my thoughts on the various TMS solutions available in the market. Off course this comparison would comprehensive with expert comments from the supply chain community.

Primarily, one can categorize the TMS functionalities into planning (both strategic and tactical), execution (standard OOB TMS functionalities), Financials (Freight payment and cost allocation, though not looking at TMS as a financial tool), Fleet and yard management, door to door scheduling coordination.

In a generic sense almost all products have the basic TMS functionalities in terms of tactical planning, execution and the basic financials with a small degree of variations in terms of these capabilities. But when it comes to the functionalities pertaining to strategic planning, the more specific cases of fleet & yard management and scheduling the differences start to come up. I personally feel that i2 TMS and Oracle TM cover a wide range of functionalities and can be considered as leaders within this space. With respect to Fleet and yard management, Oracle TM has some capabilities which allow it to be ranked higher as compared to other TM products. Having spent the last few years working on TMS products (primarily i2 and SAP TM), i2 TM ranks ahead in terms of various capabilities when compared to the current SAP product. Though yes, as an obvious fact the integration between SAP ERP and SAP TM would be more seamless as compared to i2 TM. Also, the TMS solutions from Manhattan, Red prairie and Manugistics do not fall much behind the leaders in terms of the various functionalities.

Another stream where I feel that various transportation management solutions have shown innovation and created a differentiation is by offering on-demand solutions. This uses the concept of SaaS  by providing the application to the client as a service on demand. The customer here does not need to install the software on the site, but subscribes to the hosted application of the vendor. This innovative delivery model has greatly reduced the organization's total cost of implementation and thus helped in the  early realization of benefits. Currently such solutions are being provided only by the larger product vendors. I also feel that in the years to come this innovative delivery model would pave way for a paradigm shift in the way TMS solutions would be implemented , leading to substantial cost reductions and shrunken timelines.

Do share your feedback, thoughts and comments on this topic.

May 30, 2010

Challenges of Dealing with Quality Inspection Stocks in Supply Chain

Quality Inspection Stock is defined as a stock that is quarantined for inspection and is generally not available for unrestricted usage for customer orders. The process of Quality Inspection could be a long drawn process involving multiple kinds of product checks to as short as couple of hours involving some kind of sampling technique. Most of the ERP systems available in the market have their own Quality Management module along with other modules such as Plant Maintenance or Production Planning. By implementing a Quality Management module, it is possible for supply planning systems to take into account realistic release dates of quality inspection stock into unrestricted stock. With such release dates being accounted for, the Supply planning system can accordingly propose incremental supplies in the network based on demand supply calculations as a function of time.

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April 28, 2010

Impressions and Conversations Held at the Recent Sterling Commerce Customer Connection 2010 Conference - The State of Global Supply Chains

During the recently held Sterling Commerce Customer Connection 2010 Conference, I had the opportunity to speak and interchange with a number of various industry supply chain and IT executives.  The good news was that unlike previous conferences, the mood among supply chain and IT teams is much more upbeat than 2009. There is a sense that the days of dark gloom are behind and teams can now focus on what really needs to get done across global supply chain business processes.

One highlight of my activity was the opportunity to sit with some members of the Infosys supply chain leadership team to discuss the state of global supply chain as companies approach a period of post-recessionary transition toward growth.  My discussions included Gopi Krishnan, delivery manager and lead for SCM, Atul Pandey, Industry Head-Enterprise Application Integration and Services, and Jai Sankar, Vice President, Enterprise Solutions.  Discussions also included other members of both Infosys and Sterling Commerce technology marketing and implementation teams.

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April 22, 2010

Toyota Recalls - Opportunity in disguise

Over the last few weeks a lot of noise has been created with the recall of millions of Toyota's prized brands. Even the best selling cars like the Prius and now Corolla were not spared. Not to say the least that it is acceptable but I am amazed at the coverage being given to this. Car recalls in the automobile industry is a fairly common practice even with other large auto manufacturers having recalled their vehicles at one point of time. Rarely has this tarnished the image of a company to the extent it is affecting Toyota. In fact, recalling vehicles back was not long ago, considered a mark of maturity on the part of the manufacturers, its dedication to quality and regard for customer satisfaction. This definitely gives a sense of the changing times in the automobile industry and the supply chain market as a whole. But if we leave aside the company part of it and dive into the reasons I feel that a lack of Integration between the various entities is a possible reason for this fiasco. I will just take two points into consideration that I feel account for a major part of this issue - First, incomplete supplier collaboration,  Secondly, improperly planned growth.

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March 31, 2010

Logistics - a key driver for improving supply chain margins

Logistics is a considerable part of supply chain costs. So far as profitability goes, this can be a true driver to improve supply chain costs. Logistics is an area of best practice that can contribute to your managing rising supply chain cost.

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March 30, 2010

Lean supply chain – Is that always good

Often have we heard in various supply chain forums and places “ A good supply chain is a lean machine”meaning that we have minimal inventory, delivery should be Just in time and a Configure to order strategy etc. In most cases a manufacturer would want to have a lean system for the raw materials and the Work in progress. But would he want this for finished products as well at the point of sale, I think not.

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February 27, 2010

Technical Architecture and the silos thereof....

I was recently sitting in a café a flipping through a magazine on Green Architecture for Retailers. It included the entire gamut of retailers - apparel vendors through grocery vendors and how they wanted their stores to be green; Emphasis on green paints, green lights, recyclable paper towels and so on; the investments and the returns thereof; testimonials that justified the idea, the ones that stressed on the longevity of these implementations and those that cautioned the reader.


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February 14, 2010

Y2010 & Ahead – value chain trends in emerging economy – Part 2 (Technology Trends)

In the prior blog on this topic, I had described a few value chain trends for Y2010 and beyond. In this blog, I will outline a few technology trends linked to these value chain trends.

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February 11, 2010

Y2010 & Ahead – value chain trends in emerging economy – Part 1

It takes a crisis to bring out the best of our innovation and constructive potential. A crisis helps us focus on finding and doing the right things and breaking the barriers and maintaining status quo.  This has been a common theme for most of my clients who I have been associated with in Y2009. As the economic recovery seems to be taking roots, I anticipate the following trends to strengthen especially in the manufacturing sector, as we look at Y2010 and beyond.

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January 29, 2010

Leveraging SRM techniques to build business teams

One of the key objectives in the existing challenging environments is to develop long-term, productive relationships with the internal customers who are stakeholders within the procurement business team. This is interesting observation and SRM techniques can help organizations in building strong relationship with internal customers through foothold strategies that leverage long term relationship.

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SCOR -S Certification; a boon for students

Great news awaits students expecting to launch their careers in supply chain. The SCOR Scholar (SCOR-S) certification program has been launched by Supply Chain Council in 2010-2011. Designed for university students who do not yet possess significant on-the-job experience, SCOR-S certification will demonstrate a basic understanding of how to use the SCOR Framework for supply chain management. “The SCOR Scholar certification will be one of the only programs in the world that provides students professional certification of a methodology for managing supply chain performance,” says Caspar Hunsche, SCC Chief Technology Officer. “In addition to core supply chain management knowledge, SCOR-S certification will send a strong signal to potential employers of a student’s interest and ability to excel at a supply chain career.” A detailed training catalog can be downloaded from Supply Chain Council. Workshops include SCOR Framework, Implementation, Integration, Benchmarking, Performance based Logistics (PBL), Cost Modeling and Supply Chain Risk Management. In a way, such specialized training programs open thinking and real-world practice possibilities for students. Besides, such forums and certifications bring relationships with SCOR practitioners and teachers who meet and resolve practical supply chain challenges in their day to day operations. Let’s discuss the significance of the SCOR-R certification. Students can get an insight into supply chain basics and industry processes from experts. Understanding of SCOR benchmarks and process drivers by specific industries help align supply chain academic knowledge with indicators one must look for to realize business performance. Next, such certification helps students edge out competition when it comes to presenting themselves to prospective employers. Ability to relate to critical aspects causing a business constraints become clearer compared to trivial facts. Inter-relationships between various operational entities are key to finding a resolve to today’s supply chain problems. The SCOR-R experience will enable students to balance supply chain risks and rewards more effectively. This is just a few from the list of many benefits that students can gain from this certification from the Supply Chain Council. Well started is half done. This cannot be truer especially when it comes to beginning a career in an exciting profession of supply chain.

January 28, 2010

Automotive manufacturers of 2009: Numbers convey their Supply Chain behavior

So the “Report cards” of the automotive manufacturers in US are out!! There are contrasting realities and some startling facts!!!. Do the Japanese and American car manufacturers behave the same way in the face of recession? How do their manufacturing and supply chain strategies reflect on their overall performance? Are there any “dark horses” among the American manufacturers who would pose the biggest threats to the Japanese in future? Are there laggards among the Japanese who would have to face the threat of survival in future? The numbers convey their behavior!!

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January 27, 2010

The Pit Stop - An Agile Supply Chain

I had the opportunity to attend a seminar on "How to Gain Competitive Advantage with End to End Supply Chain Visibility" sponsored collectively by Sterling, Deloite and GS1 held at Oxfordshire, UK sometime in November last year.

Deloite presented how important it was to maintain focus on business operations, with a clear emphasis on working capital optimization.
GS1 (They design and implement global supply chain standards) delved on the need of standard based solutions that enable organizations to gain visiblity of specific assets and how this in turn is driving process improvement throught the entire supply chain.

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Decide where you integrate: MCO does not equal MCC!

It’s the beginning of the year and our campus here at Bangalore is abuzz with client visits, with sometimes the Bangalore campus alone hosting 4-5 client visits in a single day. Budgets are being cast, everyone is looking for the right drop box to put their IT dollars and wait for maximum magic for the amount spent. While I am not involved in a majority of these visits, there's one industry vertical where SCM practice consistently gets invited to present their point of view, viz., Retail. My reasoning for this is that there’s really no other industry where one encounters so many best-of-breed SCM packages strung together by each of these retailers in a collage uniquely their own.

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January 22, 2010

Being Lean in Supply chain

Well, this blog of mine is different in many ways, from the ones that I have posted so far. I am not going to write too much to describe this topic but I am more interested in knowing what you all know. I want to reach out to each one of you to know what you have seen in industry either as an operations guy or as a consultant. Even if you have not seen it being practiced in real life, I am sure you would have some serious opinion on this matter.

The topic is very simple and well-intuitive. My question is: Have you seen “lean principles” being practiced in supply chain in any industry (preferably consumer goods/discrete manufacturing). I know the term “lean” has been used or mis-used very often, but I am open to hear anything from you – just take a pick, think and find out instances from your experience, that you can bucket under being “lean in supply chain”. Do not just restrict yourself to manufacturing...

Let me give you one example: recently, I had a discussion with a Supply Chain Head of a leading consumer goods organization and they intend to implement a “pull based” system in their supply chain.

Consumer goods companies have been pioneers in supply chain and their performance in supply chain has been best-in-class by any standards. Traditionally, we have seen organizations especially, consumer goods, running a typical push model where sophisticated forecasting is done to predict demand, goods are manufactured and distributed to various POS locations as per the dispatch plan. The product is actually pushed down in supply chain and focus is to improve forecast accuracy because that really drives everything else.

On the contrary, here is this company that would like to implement “pull system” and do away with forecasting to the maximum possible extent. To me, this is one true example of being lean in supply chain. I have always seen companies focusing on improving traditional push model that I described, but I have never seen a “pull model” running anywhere and hence this blog…

Going back to my question to all of you:

Do you think such practices exist in companies (esp. consumer goods)? I don’t know any company implementing a pull methodology in supply chain (please provide examples other than Toyota)? How do you marry push and pull in the supply chain, and where does it exist? Where is the Customer decoupling point? What tools do you use? How do you drive this initiative – what are the critical success factors?

Please share your experiences and insights – looking forward to hear from this great group of supply chain leaders…

December 7, 2009

SCM cross pollination: Ikea and the Indian bi-cycle manufacturers

Supply Chain is a horizontal function”, says the voice aloud. “Big deal”, I say, smirking. “This essentially means that it is agnostic to industry sectors”, continues the voice. “Natural”, I say still smirking. “It is thus fair to expect that concepts and best practices applicable in one industry sector can be leveraged for another sector”, the rich baritone voice states. “Fair enough”, I say, continuing to play ball not knowing where we were headed. “As a supply chain consultant, do you think you have lived up to that expectation?” No longer in the dark and no longer smirking, I turn diplomatic and deflect this query to the readers.

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November 27, 2009

Buffett’s bet on railroads- basically, a bet on America?

Hope you had a great time with your family this Thanksgiving. For me, Thanksgiving was an excuse to maximize my time with my family before they left for India this coming Sunday on a three month long vacation.

Anyway, coming to the topic of this blog, today I watched this amazing show on CNBC called Warren Buffett and Bill Gates - Keeping America Great, where the two greatest legends of the current times took questions from Columbia B-School students on various topics ranging from the economy to philanthropy.

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November 21, 2009

The Death of DRP- an eyewitness’ account

I simply loved reading Lora Cecere’s blog titled The Death of DRP. I loved it, because it brought me a feeling of déjà vu. You see, for the past few years, I was part accomplice and part eyewitness to the slow murder, while working on a supply chain transformation program for a leading CPG.

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November 12, 2009

Nostradamus, 2012 and Cloud Computing!!!

Nostradamus is known for his ominous, predictive, and mind numbing riddles of many disastrous events that have changed the course of history as we all know. On a separate note, there are plenty of influencing theories about how this world is coming to an end on 2012 Dec 21 that are astrological – such as Mayan calendar, and astronomical – such as an approaching star, in nature (check out the movie 2012 releasing on 13th Nov). I’ll leave to y’all-readers of this blog to pursue this interest further.

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November 8, 2009

Impact on Warehouse Management systems in context of gATP implementation

 Global Available to Promise is one of the most promising modules of SAP to manage a sales order. The module has far-reaching impacts on business processes right from Sales Order acquisition to the warehouse level fulfilment strategy. In this blog, we will try to understand how gATP implementation (one of the core supply chain modules of SAP) is having far reaching consequences on warehouse management processes.

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November 7, 2009

Being Unique with MCC: Can Something Buried Under The Hood Be A Differentiator?

Earlier this week, I was in a dinner meeting with the VP of e-commerce at a large general merchandise retailer along with some others from his management team. This was an all-hands meeting of vendor managers whose teams are helping the retailer string together a viable online retail channel. During the course of the dinner, I and another collegue got to spend a surprisingly uninterrupted 20-or-so minutes with the VP (considering the clamour there, it certainly was surprising and may be it helped that none of us were smoking!). Among various things we discussed, one comment he made caught my ear. He felt that in the entire supply chain transformation that's being conceived, differentiation can only be realized via the e-commerce front-end application. Rest of it, order management included, are just supposed to fulfill pre-ordained roles in a predictable fashion.

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October 13, 2009

China’s Supply Chain: The currency factor

After writing about the manufacturing priorities that drive China’s supply chain (here) and about Supply clusters that play a vital role behind China’s rise in manufacturing (here), let me continue on the macro view of China’s supply chain – this time highlighting the role of its currency (RMB) in fueling its supply chain.

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September 13, 2009

What drives China’s Supply Chain – Quality, Cost, Time or Flexibility

Fresh from a study tour to China and tired after submitting a lengthy thesis on China’s Industry context, let me quickly pen a few lines on the competitive priorities that drive China’s Operations and Supply Chain.


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Keep it simple and Stick to basics

This time I am going to share something that I have observed over a period of years working in industry and now as a consultant in supply chain domain. And, it is not based on just one or two experiences, but something that I have really seen at many occasions. I am sure, most of us would have experienced it too, that business users don’t need and talk those ‘big and heavy’ words or jargons. On the contrary, they look out for some simple solutions to take care of their business problems. The problems could be and in fact, are multi-dimensional and fairly complex but what they need is a ‘simple and basic’ solution that works fine for their set of constraints.

In my opinion, lot of times, people tend to talk in air without actually understanding issues that the client is facing, and use such heavy jargons as if that’s one quick pill that will solve all the problems. I personally feel, that we should be extremely careful and cautious of ‘just’ talking jargons; I am sure if we just stick to our basics, it will be more than enough for most of the problems that people face in business. Let me share few instances that made me felt so…

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August 27, 2009

Tapping Collective Maintenance Wisdom - An EAM Route?

I recently got a chance to go through an interestingly titled research report from Bill Polk of AMR going by the headline "Asset Management Algebra: EAM = ROI". In these times of increasingly deficient attention-spans, reading a 2-pager is always better than reading a 20-pager with authors belaboring the same point in multiple ways.

Apart from the usual benefits of EAM (ROCE, efficiency improvements, structured information etc) and its new found importance (movement from tactical to strategic), an interesting point which I haven't come across in many other places was about "Capturing and preserving data from an aging workforce". While implementing EAM systems, we typically think of labor management (thru the EAM app or via a little help from more high brow "Workforce Management Systems or WFMs") as a way to capture skills of the maintenance personnel thus making sure the right party is assigned to the right work order.

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August 26, 2009

Supply Chain “Proverbs-to-ponder”


Efforts for sustaining supply chain benefits have been under fire. Business requires supply chain programs for implementing their strategies. Variability, especially uncertainties in operations dim the chances for even the best solutions to return results in a consistent manner. Sustainability, is taking center-stage for CXOs and I see them scramble for ideas that have demonstrated results.

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July 7, 2009

Is “Supply Chain function” a critical function to business?

This blog is a representation of my feelings and thoughts about the significance of supply chain as a function. I have been associated with supply chain for little less than a decade now, and based on my experiences and interactions with supply chain practitioners, I feel that supply chain function has slowly started gaining importance in the industry. We know that companies are driven by functions that drive business, get revenue and manage money. And therefore, functions such as Sales, Marketing and Finance have always been the pillars of any organization, independent of its size and scale. Having said that, I feel that over the past few years, supply chain as a function exists as a more formal organization and has grown from a mere supporting function to the one that has a direct impact on a company’s balance sheet. As per one of the articles in AMR Research, the average tenure of a supply chain organization in consumer products is eight years. So, there is still a long way to go from here.

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June 1, 2009

Amazon for Cloud Computing is as Starbucks for Coffee??

I’ve been globe trotting lately - India, UK, US and such. Living in Seattle puts a tacit yet obliging pressure on you to visit Starbucks. Ordering a cup of coffee after 9 months was an all new experience from the previous time I was there. Double-tall, non-fat, de-cafe, extra-hot cappuccino for instance, Sugar free, soy, cinnamon dolce, and no-whip latte for another. So I couldn’t stop but notice the granularity of the orders and what Starbucks had accomplished in the past 9 months.

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May 19, 2009

Is Supply Chain Planning still the top most priority of investment during uncertain times?

In the current downturn, organizations are typically looking at spending only on sustenance and not wanting to start any new projects/initiatives- however there are organizations which have a clear focus of ensuring that they make the right investments in a downturn to overcome the challenges faced and also be ready when the economy revives. Organizations are always thinking of planning and optimizing their investments and this is more relevant in the current economic scenario. Areas of investment in Supply Chain during the current dark period’ gave us some interesting outcome.

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May 16, 2009

Alignment in Supply Chain – is it really possible?

Recently I read a great news article in Supply Chain Digest titled “Triple-A Supply Chain” that actually talks about the article published in Harvard Business Review in the year 2004 by Hau Lee. I am sure most of you would have read it but for those who haven’t, I sincerely suggest that it is a must-read for all supply chain practitioners. Although the article is more than four years old, it is very pertinent in current business environment. Let me just provide the objectives of the three A’s mentioned in the postingf and then, I would like to share my viewpoints with respect to one of the A’s that I feel is the ‘most relevant and critical’ capability for all the companies. The three A’s that have been talked about are:

a)      Agility – it is about how quickly a company can respond to any change in its business environment. It refers to short-term changes.

b)      Adaptability – it is the capability of a company to adapt to business changes that are more permanent in nature and therefore, it is strategic and has a long lead time.

c)      Alignment – it is the ability to have common and shared interests across the supply chain including vendors and customers.

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April 24, 2009

Agile SCM Cloud - How to implement one?

In the previous two blogs I have talked about the possibility of creating a cloud of SCM functions and commoditizing’ em to relieve the user from the tedious task of choosing, procuring, implementing and customizing SCM functions for his business. The general trend these days with the advent of grid and cloud computing is to focus more on the application and its use for the business rather than worry about scalability, reliability and security which are now an integral part of the cloud offerings.

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April 22, 2009

DNA Therapy for Strategic Cost Reduction in Supply Chains

My recent hunt for stem cell banking information in South India got me excited on a subject of high interest in the biomedical world. Stem cell therapy is the latest medical wonder discovery and supposed to be a cure for 70 odd complex maladies of humans, especially interesting because till late these ill’s were supposed be hard to win over with the conventional medical treatment methods - treatments which were more focused on treatment of the symptom or providing a patch solution for the life threatening diseases, not usually a permanent cure.

DNA is the building block of all life and living on this planet. They are the smallest finite elements which determine the characteristic and personality of any individual. DNA or gene therapy gets to the root cause of the problem. They provided the paradigm shift in medical treatment from the symptomatic treatment of the yesteryears to treating or correcting the diseases cells at source.

What has DNA therapy got to do with Supply Chain Management?

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March 13, 2009

Is IT really a primary driver for making your supply chain ‘World-class’?

There have been numerous articles or reports written on building a ‘world-class’ or a ‘best-in-class’ supply chain that you would have surely read. Few of them definitely outclass others in terms of the focus and clarity they provide to the supply chain enthusiasts and practitioners. One such report that I would like to bring to your notice is recently published by McKinsey & Company called “The Race for Supply Chain Advantage” – an outcome of an intensive research done, with large multinational companies participating from multiple industry segments. The report provides the six key practices that would drive supply chain performance, and make companies world-class with outstanding results in some of the most critical parameters such as customer service, cost and inventory. I wouldn’t like to comment anything on the practices listed but I do feel worth mentioning an interesting finding in this report and that’s about the better performance of companies with fewer formal IT systems as compared to the ones that have invested heavily into technology.

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February 27, 2009

Supply Chain - A strategic lever in a weak economy

Today’s news headlines are largely depressing reading. So this weekend I steered away from the newspaper and in fact picked up a relatively new strategy magazine [which will remain nameless]. The magazine headlined a story “Top 7 ways to increase sales” and provided assorted articles on marketing/ how to increase revenue etc. Flicking through the magazine I was pleasantly surprised to see a section dedicated to Supply Chain but was simultaneously disappointed to see only four pages of commentary [out of a total sixty-six pages]on this very strategic lever!

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February 16, 2009

AGILE SCM CLOUD – Why do we need one?

Because we do. Is it that simple? No way.

I guess the answer to this question manifests when we take a close look at any SCM application environment and the landscape of the hardware and software technologies associated with it and the amount of effort required to integrate these applications.

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February 10, 2009

What IT hooks do 3PLs hang their business coats on?

The global economy is changing. That's arguably the only thing that can be stated as fact about this change. The only other thing that could be stated as fact is the continuous need for corporations to make profits, serve customers and to provide value to shareholders. This is true for 3PL providers and their customers too. So, what do 3PLs do to be prepared for the coming change? What are the IT hooks they hang their business coats on?

I will be sharing my experience with the facets of 3PL IT force multipliers on 24th Feb 2009. Please register here to be a part of the webinar.



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January 15, 2009

AGILE SCM CLOUD – What could it mean?

First of all I must let you all – the readers, know that this is the first of the three parts blog on Agile SCM Cloud.  So please stay tuned for the “AGILE SCM CLOUD – Why do we need one?” and “AGILE SCM CLOUD – How to implement one?

We are living in great times as far as Information Technology is concerned. There is a wave of information explosion and a corresponding need to process it efficiently and effectively. For example, search for new energy source or satellite downloads for weather forecasting. On the other hand almost contrasting to the computing needs Moore’s law is reaching its limits considering atomic sizes of the transistors leading to dual, quad and 8 core processors. Companies like Intel are even rolling out instruction sets to support multiple operating systems. All of this has an impact on the way we have been computing so far – a piece of software tied to a piece of hardware and both of these tied to a business need. We are now thinking of dynamic environments that grow and shrink to meet the demands. Not to mention the biz terms like Grid Computing, Virtualization, Software-as-a-Service, Utility Computing, Green Computing and Cloud Computing in that order to go with it.

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December 4, 2008

Outsourcing in supply chain – a unique way to deploy global supply chain programs

This is based on my recent project experience with one of the leading networking companies in US, which is running its strategic supply chain performance improvement initiative globally. Usually, companies tend to implement such initiatives as a pilot for a select few customers and markets and once the pilot is run for a certain period of time, it is rolled out to other areas incorporating learnings from the pilot phase. The rolling out of such strategic initiatives to all the markets globally is imperative to achieve the desired financial benefits, finally leading to revenue and profit growth.  The key is the global execution that becomes a real challenge in a global scenario, especially when it demands a significant amount of investment in terms of time, cost, talent and effort from teams located regionally.

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September 1, 2008

Energy Sector and the Supply Chain

Demand and Supply go hand-in-hand. One would be forgiven to associate such a statement with best-in-class supply chain supported by best-in-class IT support systems. This could be a distant dream for few other aspirants. However what I am referring to is the not-so-obvious-but-omnipresent power sector.

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The advent of "on-demand" SCM

 Of late, I’ve been noticing an increasing appearance of the term “On-demand SCM” in the web-world. Inscrutable as it sounds the first time, what got me thinking was the obvious overlap in most articles between SCM as a function as SCM as a collection of IT systems. Standing behind the many wonders of IT-enabled supply chains (and being completely blinded of everything else), we may be forgiven (or burnt-at-stake, depending on who you're asking) for assuming SCM equals SCM apps/integration (Akin to arguing that “child is INDEED the father of man”!)

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