Effective supply chain management in the internet-driven 21st century requires a healthy balance of sophisticated analytical techniques as well as tried-and-true business process and governance approaches. Important decisions need to be made by people with a solid understanding of the business context, but they must be supported by unemotional, data-driven analysis.
The uninformed often imagine sales and marketing staffs to be populated by a mix of characters from the casts of Glengarry Glen Ross and Mad Men. But in the world’s most advanced and successful firms, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, there’s lots of hard-nosed, rigorous analytical work done to support the objectives of these business functions.
So many of the activities a firm undertakes to improve efficiency focus on controlling costs. Good work can have a nice impact on the firm’s bottom line. But pricing and promotion work affect the top line, where the impact is amplified.
As they say, a company’s most valuable assets are its human resources. But it’s far more than a glib platitude. There’s great merit to this claim, since a high-performing team combines all the right elements, from job-specific technical skills to soft skills to the various “intangibles” that contribute so importantly to a firm’s culture.
Many businesses struggle to make productive use of the vast amounts of data they now collect. Some of it is familiar data related to supply and demand, even though the scale may have increased thanks to the proliferation of products and the globalization of supply chains. Newer data sources include information about individual clicks on a company’s website and natural language processing to interpret the sentiment of comments made on social media. It all amounts to what many refer to as “big data.”