Topology and Risk Management in the Physical, Financial and Credit Supply Chain


The eight concept that I introduced as part of the ten items in my “what’s next” presentation at ISM’s Risk Conference in Chicago was the importance of “developing a topological understanding of risk in the physical, financial and credit supply chain.” Here I suggested that if we assume the premise that risk is not something (in many cases) that suppliers create for themselves alone and that risk cascades throughout a supply chain, then monitoring the physical, financial, and credit supply chain is key.

This involves understanding, for example, overlays and situational awareness across seemingly discounted events and geographies (e.g., how a natural disaster can create a credit crisis or supply shortage– 1,500 miles away). The essential component in achieving this level of situational awareness is to think and build systems like the CIA – and what they discovered with Afghanistan – in terms of the advantages of being able to integrate a single view into operations spanning maps, terrain, activity, assets, and risk elements (e.g., non-combatants)—and to relay this picture to all of those who needed it to make decisions and carry out operations.

There are a number of off-the-shelf tools that incorporate standard BI-type environments and data with geospatial perspectives. But geospatial tools often provide a one-dimensional look – showing up as 3D on a screen – of a single supplier or activity. It is the interrelationship of all the moving parts of activity that create a true topological view of the supply chain spanning physical, financial, and credit components.

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  1. isomorphismes:

    So your “topological distance” metric would be something like “number of hops”? Where a hop could be a transaction of at least a certain size, let’s say.

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