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Relying On Technologies To Transform Data Into Information

Mark Ohlund, Chief Information Officer & Sr. V.P., Armada Supply Chain Solutions
Mark Ohlund, Chief Information Officer & Sr. V.P., Armada Supply Chain Solutions

Mark Ohlund, Chief Information Officer & Sr. V.P., Armada Supply Chain Solutions

Several pain points within the enterprise for which solutions do not exist yet and Solutions that would make your job easier.

The biggest challenge Armada faces is not primarily a technology issue, but a process/practice issue.

The issue is data “viscosity”, the rate at which data is exchanged with our trading partners and clients. Historically, data exchange has occurred in batches, assembled at pre-ordained times and exchanged between partners.

Typically these exchanges occur once, or at most, twice daily, usually during early morning or late night hours when system resources were available. Thus, the data is very viscous, it flows very slowly between trading partners and subsequently hampers the efficiency of processes dependant on this data.

 Achieving supply chain visibility, involves several high-level activities. The first activity includes exchanging trading partner data  

As Armada evolves our technology to better automate supply chain processes, there is increased need to provide more complete and current visibility into the supply chains. These historic data exchange practices are inadequate. Receiving a daily data exchange consolidating the previous day’s activities means that, at best, we’re working with several hour old data.

Armada’s goal is to create and maintain efficient, agile supply chains for our customers. This is accomplished via two primary activities: generating information that provides supply chain visibility and using this information to automate supply chain activities.

Achieving supply chain visibility, involves several high-level activities. The first activity includes exchanging trading partner data.

We do this through the use of a commercial integration platform. Second, we require a way to store this data reliably and efficiently to facilitate its access.

This is accomplished through a data warehouse and related extraction, translation and loading (ETL) tools.

Third, the data must be translated into information. We rely on assorted reporting, business intelligence (BI), visualization and analytic tools to provide this transformation of data into information.

This generated information has two purposes: informing our clients of their supply chain status and serving as the “fuel” for our business rules engines to execute increasingly automated processes. To continue the mechanical metaphor, if the information is extremely viscous (i.e. it flows slowly), it acts as grit in a gear-driven mechanical device. The efficiency of that device is hampered due to poor lubrication–delays in information flow–required for the mechanism to achieve its potential.

Armada already possesses the infrastructure necessary to operate its supply chains in a low viscosity environment. What we require for significantly more supply chain fluidity, is a migration from the status quo of environments that batch data into a once or twice daily transmission to environments that can provide the updated data as it is generated.

This change will translate into real-time information that increases the agility of the supply chains. These agile supply chains then possess the ability to proactively respond to unpredicted influences in the supply chain, as well as the regular, predictable activities of our client’s supply chain engines.

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