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Keep Digging, There's A Pony In Here Somewhere

By Art van Bodegraven | 05/13/2014 | 7:57 AM

The hot button du jour seems to be so-called Big Data.  I am ambivalent - and you are not surprised.

On one hand, it is beyond exciting to think that we have (relatively) easy access to data that we either could not get, could not extract timely, or could not manhandle and manipulate with any ease to make the decsions that needed making about distribution networks, slotting, inventory deployment, manufacturing integration, demand analysis and response, and so on, in the not-so-long-ago.

On another, we are now challenged on a couple of fronts.  One is the reality that the profession cannot find nearly enough bright analysts to ferret through the morass of numbers to isolate the significant from the trivial.  Another is the continuing frustration of not having analysts who can put trends and anomalies in meaningful context, with very brief experience bases.

A third might be the number of more senior practitioners who are not yet comfortable with data-driven decisions, especially when esoteric fragments are involved, preferring to repeat their intuitive plans and actions.  Of course,  it does not take much of that to drive away what analytic capability resides within the supply chain organization - and warn off any aspirants.

So, we face yet another need to persuade well-meaning industry veterans that the 21st century is not only here, it is not going away.  Even more frightening is the reality that  the not-quite-retired remnants of the Baby Boomer generation are going to be working with more Millennials, not fewer.  And, the attitudinal disconnects involved have got to be resolved so that we can get the best out of both worlds.

The answer cannot be that we must wait for each generation do metaphorically die off in order to do, and do better, what must be done in the supply chain world.  So, keep digging and keep educating.  The future might be a little bleak but it is not necessarily the black hole that some fear.

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About Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven (1939 - 2017) was Managing Principal of the van Bodegraven Associates consultancy and Founding Principal of Discovery Executive Services, which develops and delivers supply chain educational programs. He was formerly Chair of the Supply Chain Group AG, Partner at The Progress Group LLC, Development Executive at CSCMP, Practice Leader with S4 Consulting, and a Managing Director in Coopers & Lybrand's consulting practice. Concentrating in supply chain management and logistics for over 20 years in his 50+ year business career, he has led ground-breaking strategic, operational, and educational projects for leading US and global clients. Art was principal co-author of DC Velocity's Basic Training monthly column for a decade, and was the principal co-author, with Ken Ackerman, of Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, the definitive primer in the field. His popular blog, The Art of Art, has been a staple of DC Velocity's web site since its inception.


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