Some people’s learning styles require them to see a picture or diagram – or sit in a classroom or meeting – to get the most out of a topic. And there are others who can read pages and pages of prose, and those who prefer never to leave the safe confines of a 13-inch laptop, hunched over the screen, staring at a pivot table for hours on end. But regardless of learning style, we can all agree that sometimes a picture can tell a thousand words. Such is the case of geospatial technology applied to looking at individual suppliers and the broader supply chain.
Spend Matters thinks that 2014 will be the year in which procurement organizations begin to deploy geospatial views of their spend and supplier data in regular practice. While some organizations will no doubt leverage existing spend analysis and supplier management tools (Endeca, Iasta, SciQuest/Spend Radar, HICX, etc.) that already can incorporate map-based views to enable this, others will turn to new types of solutions that offer a different geospatial view of the broader supply chain.
Earlier this year, my colleague Peter Smith explored a tiny but absolutely fascinating provider called Sourcemap (they will be on my personal shortlist of “must talk to” vendors for 2014). In the next installment of this series, I’ll share some of the highlights of our findings on Sourcemap, including how localized and geospatial views of all sorts of supply chain activities – supplier location, spend, and logistics, as well as supplier behaviors and even the truly “social” supply chain – can work in tandem.
But for the meantime, remember these takeaways:
- We can promise that if you use spend analysis or supplier management technologies and/or are willing to experiment with new tools (that you can download or access over the Internet), in 2014 you will become acclimated to "map-based" views of suppliers and supply chain activities – in contrast to views limited to data in pivot tables, spend cubes, and dashboards (and you won’t want to go back)
- Geospatial technology will help you discover new things and opportunities, from ways of engaging suppliers in joint cost takeout or CSR opportunities to more actively managing supply chain risk – which you would have missed in traditional forms of data analysis alone
- Geospatial views loaded up with systems data will combine with third-party information sets (both structured and unstructured data) to form new types of big data “mashups” that provide an entirely other perspective on the supply chain – and help in such areas as identifying lower-tier bottlenecks, potential new sources of supply, raw material capacity, and constraints and the like. We expect to see predictive and forecasting tools (e.g., forecast bottlenecks) based on these combined datasets become mainstream as well.
So take out your map and supply chain compass. And stay with us as we explore the geospatial potential of spend analysis, supplier management, supply chain, and new tools that provide a whole new perspective on global business.