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Watch Your Language - There Are Women And Children In The Room!

By Art van Bodegraven | 11/20/2014 | 11:03 AM

Once upon a time in a land far away, I spent inordinate time on the road chasing and doing business. We received instructive language examples regularly in one locale. In a favored watering hole and ptomaine ptalace, at the end of a long and wrong day, we asked our server for a cup of hemlock. Brow furrowed, she allowed that she would have to check with the bartender to see if they had any in stock. It was neither the time nor place for a teachable moment regarding Socrates' untimely departure.

On another day, we inquired as to what the soup of the day might be. Little Lucinda brightened considerably as she proudly announced that the soup of the day was that perennial favorite, "du jour". You can't make this stuff up.

So, with Lucinda in mind, a reminder to know the right terms, and what they mean, is important in many dimensions, not least avoiding the appearance of being on the cusp of being, as is said in some parts, "ate up by the dumbs". The caution is to use only those terms, no matter how popular they might be with others, that you, yourself, understand. A corollary is to be sure you are aware of the subtleties of terms you understand a little.

So, do yourself a favor with a brief self-check. Do you know what IoT means? Does the Internet of Things mean simply machines that can communicate, or is there more to the story? Is it only machines, or do chips and sensors count, too?  What are the contemporary concrete examples of IoT at work?  What might the IoT mean to supply chain planning and processing?

You do know that the ubiquitous cloud is not a fluffy white thing up in the sky, of course. Right? So what is it, really, and how does it or they work? Is there more than one cloud?  Who owns it or them?  Are there specific supply chain ramifications, or is the phenomenon a general condition?

And what, by the way is this SaaS thing that seems to have gained momentum as the cloud looms larger? What are the varieties of SaaS arrangements? If cloud-based, are there vulnerabilities you need to protect against?

Then, there is convergence. What is that all about? Is it merely a broadening of a 3PL's portfolio of products and services? Or is it a game-changing differentiator that will separate the stars from the bit players?

3D printing is all the rage, it seems, but what is it? How does it work? Is it a latest version of simple additive manufacturing? How does it change, if at all, what we do in supply chains?

Next comes visibility, and the list grows regularly.  Flowcasting is beginning to enter the vocabulary.  What is that?  Is there reakky an effective DRP at the store level?  Or, is this something that is less than it appears to be, but with consulting muscle behind it?

The point is that all these are not just terms to throw around in order to appear to be wise, or current, or ahead of the wave. We owe it to ourselves, our colleagues, and our customers to know what is behind the words, and how they relate to what we do, and how well we do it.

That's my soup du jour. What are you having?

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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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