Mary Zampino's blog

Big Data...It's Personal

Who's watching you? What do they know about you? Are you worried your record in the Big Data database is wrong? Would you correct it if you could? What if you had a tool to manage your big data like you manage your spend? Around SIG, we've been talking a lot about Big Data, as you can tell from Sarah's two posts (which you can access here and here) and my earlier post on the topic. This morning I started a firestorm of emails when I blasted the team with a note about a new tool I just discovered. Although in beta, Acxiom, a company that supplies marketing data to organizations, has published an online tool that allows you to access your personal "Big Data" record. I decided to try it. For a few moments, I stared at the screen, convincing myself to input the necessary information required to produce my report. Naturally suspicious when prompted to enter any kind of sensitive information (from weight to address to social security number), I hesitated to experiment with the tool. I decided I wasn't giving up any personal information that wasn't already public, and for the sake of this blog, I'd try it. After a very quick login, the tool presented me with several categories of information, including data on my characteristics, home, vehicle, economic, shopping, and household interests. Once I click on these categories, I can view the data that this company has about me, and I can actually edit it. For example, I can change my gender, and then configure my data record so that my gender characteristic will be excluded.

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

It's All in the Delivery

Following the 2013 SIG Global Sourcing Summit in Amelia Island this past May, I was reviewing feedback from our breakout session attendees and read a comment that referenced the usefulness of the Duarte workshops with respect to presentation content, delivery and design. Usability and customer experience are both passions of mine and drive me when I am constructing guidelines for our Summit breakout session presenters and their slide decks. As a sourcing professional, I am sometimes hesitant to recommend a particular product, service, or provider. But, I can’t really keep quiet about this organization any longer. I attended the Duarte workshop and it was amazing. If you are someone who has to present things like business cases, market reports, research, spend category strategies, or if you have difficulty conveying your message, then this workshop should be part of your professional development. The two-day workshop took place in the Duarte headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA, where the facilitators immediately threw us off by asking us not to introduce ourselves with our name, company and role¸ but rather our name, company and favorite story. In each 5-10 second introduction, I felt like I already knew the person based on their story and their passion in conveying the story. During the workshop, we each built a presentation that addressed a real problem while in the session...but no PowerPoints were computers or tablets at all! The presentations required agile development yet no particular expertise with design. We learned some excellent strategies for how to structure a presentation and watched guru Nancy Duarte map some really famous speeches (Dr. Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream, President Ronald Reagan addressing the country after the horrible Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy, and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru speech on India's Independence).

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

Supply Chain Management...Risky Business?

I just finished viewing insights from Risk Expert Joe Yacura of ISG, in the video, Supply Chain: Understanding The Risk Factors. This was an excellent, less-than-30-minute overview of supply chain risk management that I enjoyed with my bagel and tea. Joe discussed the critical nature of supply chains and the sources of risk, and he made some recommendations on how to harden the supply chain, specifically addressing cyber-attacks. A company’s supply chain and it's criticality to the company’s reputation is more evident as the sources and frequency of risk increase. Joe defines supply chain risk simply as "the disruption of the flow of products or services that meet the requirements [of the company]." Consumers and regulators alike want greater transparency into supply chains, with a better understanding of vulnerabilities, and as a result we are seeing an increase in mandates for company supply chains. Major sources of risk include weather, natural disasters, product reliability and consistency, counterfeit information and misrepresentations. Let's consider some of those risks: weather...who among us thought Manhattan could be so vulnerable until Sandy hit? How many of us, our hearts aching for the victims, were also concerned about our financial institutions and information, servers and files drowning in rancid water? Were there back-ups? Was my credit card statement floating in Battery Park or the basement of the bank I use? Cyber-attacks: wow, even the New York Times went down recently. If they can lose their bread and butter who else can be hit?

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

Big Data

Big Data is a major topic right now. Let me give a little analogy here. Have you been to a chain store lately and used the same credit card you have used before at pretty much the same store? Have you noticed that the coupons that spit out with your receipt are becoming more and more relevant to your actual purchases? They assigned you a tracking ID, tracked your purchases, looked at other things relevant to you at that seasons, your wedding registry, your recent home renovations...and connected the dots to try and sell you wedding favors and landscaping lights and a hat for the upcoming Spring.

That's Big Data. The corporation you buy from has started tracking your regular purchases and figured out how to predict your spend. The same thing is happening in Sourcing as well, actually it has already been happening. As we automate more and more of the sourcing processes and procurement operations and we track consumables from the supply chain to the shelf to the consumers pocket, we learn a lot more about habits, trends, and purchasing power. We can therefore more easily address risk (inventory levels, supply interruptions), leverage pricing (issue discounts, take rebates) and innovate and collaborate. Of course, Big Data requires infrastructure, which is why companies are moving towards the cloud. Imagine all of those transactions being tracked that data warehouse just gets bigger and bigger and more and more traffic comes in as we've got to figure out how to mitigate that risk and have someone else carry the burden of addressing the risk and costs of it.

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG