What Charles Dickens has to do with Charles Darwin (and supply chains)

by Marcy Rizzo

April 10, 2011

What a fabulous blog from Richard Howells,  VP of SAP Solution Marketing - Supply Chain on Supply Chain Risk and Charles Darwin.  I wish I wrote it (ha!) He echoed the ideas put forth in the Day One keynote from SAPinsider's conferences in Orlando a couple of weeks ago, and made it fresh news and totally relevant to the SAP world.

This figure that Richard quoted in the blog was also mentioned in the keynote. It really struck me as awesome. I don't use that word lightly. Richard says:"in 2010 alone, economic losses across the globe resulting from natural and man-made disasters reached $222 billion. This was more than triple the losses in 2009."

Staggering statistic when you take a moment to consider it. And the natural disasters are in ratio to other drivers of tragedy across the world, which he goes on to describe in the blog.

These continual rolling of events -- albeit disaster or celebration (wish there were more of these) -- call upon the global supply chain to get smarter and faster with less waste. And things are moving at a pace that seems unp recedented. Perhaps that is just my ignorance of history. Nevertheless, I stand looking up with my mouth open, while shaking my head all too often.

The term supply chain is scalable after all; consider the individual needs in parallel. One must be: flexible and responsive to change, plan as well as possible, and then trust the system, deliver upon promises, collaborate well, avoid borrowing what one can't afford, and replenish suitable to one's landscape. OK…enough of that.

As a conference producer of SAPinsider SCM events for all these years (8), including PLM, procurement and manufacturing, I get to talk to 1000’s of people (no kidding) affecting supply chains all over the world. They are each a part of a moving part within their department, company, industry, from 30+ different countries, involved in every aspect of the “Idea-to-Delivery” process, contributors both customer, and supplier alike. (This is another part of the keynote in Orlando that was fun to consider – “Idea-to-Delivery.”) I can’t think of any role that this doesn’t include in the end-to-end supply chain.

It seems like SAP has been ramping up for years along different application areas with a keen focus on responsiveness. These new products were announced at the Orlando event, and they are in keeping with the needs of our time: real-time solutions.

A few years ago, it was product traceability tools, which is clearly a huge safety imitative, where saving time can mean saving lives. Then there was SAP Event Management - offering an alert system in real time to monitor exceptions. Integration proved a big push one year, focusing on gaining real data from the shop floor and connecting that intelligence to the business. Now “the Business” is a constant partner in IT system investment and process optimization, with proven co st savings showing patterns in the procurement arena.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”* Perhaps I do know my history. Richard’s blog really got me thinking.

I look forward to the upcoming SAPinsider Paris events -- Supply Chain Management, Product Lifecycle Management, Procurement, and Manufacturing coming up this week, 13-15 April. I’ll pay special attention to the keynote!

Marcy Rizzo, SAPinsider Events

*A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

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