HfS Research and Accenture encourage Logistics Managers to embrace Intelligent Operations

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Organizations that leverage Intelligent Operations to make decisions and act in real-time will be best placed to thrive in the future, according to a new report from HfS Research and Accenture.

The survey of 460 respondents across the globe found that organizations which harness the combination of innovative talent, diverse data, and applied intelligence will be best placed to overcome digital disruption and utilize data-driven insights to drive superior business outcomes and enhance the customer experience.

The move to Intelligent Operations is fast becoming make-or-break for organizations, with 80 percent surveyed saying they are concerned with disruption and competitive threats, especially from new digital-savvy entrants. 

The report reveals that most organizations are currently unable to make data-driven decisions due to a paucity of skills and technology to process data: in nearly 80 percent of respondent organizations, 50 percent to 90 percent of data is reported as unstructured and largely inaccessible.

Debbie Polishook, group chief executive at Accenture Operations, share these views in an exclusive LM interview:

LM: What are the “pain points” for supply chain managers wishing to implement Intelligent Operations?

Polishook: Its critical to understand how Intelligent Operations can help solve real-life supply chain challenges. For example, a manufacturer will ask “am I going to get my inbound material in time to make my order?” The challenge here is harnessing real-time data and having the right talent and infrastructure to make rapid decisions. This type of data is extremely unstructured and from disparate sources. The race for Intelligent Operations is to build intelligent platforms, that collect data, for example, on material status, supplier status, or shipments. These platforms must support many-to-many relationship across the supply chain. Take for example DHL or UPS that are shippers for a large number of retailers, CPG companies, aerospace manufacturers, oil companies, etc.  With intelligent platforms once you have companies like DHL or UPS on board you have access to their key day across your entire supply chain. The first few connections are the hardest but once it gets rolling there is a snowball effect. The companies that own and embrace intelligent platforms supported by data driven intelligent processes and capability will own the supply chain.

LM: While your report suggests that the risk/reward ratio is becoming positive, what are the security concerns?

Polishook: Beyond the major security concerns such as consumer data protection, we believe supply chain leaders are also concerned about protecting their intangible differentiators such as their Intellectual Property and know how. The general concern is open data sharing, that could potentially erode competitive advantage. The question is not if companies should consider sharing data but how to best protect proprietary data to control who sees it and who doesn’t.  A tidal wave of changes in data-sharing is coming. According to our research, Intelligent Operations is not just about incremental changes to legacy technologies but is about making a step change to embrace new technologies that enable safe data sharing, such as secured public cloud and/or Blockchain. Secure data needs to be stored in a manner that makes it possible to selectively share data while also keeping a seamless flow across a smart partner ecosystem.

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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