Nearly five years ago I wrote a blog about Big Data and how it could be relevant for sourcing and supply chain professionals. Needless to say, a LOT has happened since then. In a Gartner survey performed in October 2016, 48% of companies indicated that they have a Big Data initiative currently underway, with another 25% who stated they had plans on the horizon. So it is no longer a question of whether or not companies are using Big Data…that is a given. Now the question is how companies are using it and how they are incorporating Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the equation.
The information being collected from Big Data initiatives is powerful and can provide predictive analytics and insightful information. For example, a shipping company being able to change delivery routes based on current traffic patterns increases productivity (not to mention customer frustration). A large company using it to detect anomalies in behavior by third party vendors and mitigate the risk associated with that information could protect them from millions in cyber security damages.
It was nearly 90 degrees and the breeze was barely offering any relief from the heat radiating off the white sand. I love the beach but there are times when even the relatively cool, 80-degree water can’t offer any way to provide relief. I looked at all those beach front homes with their cover decks, fans and A/C with envy. Then just when I was thinking of packing it up and heading for the air-conditioned car, clouds rolled in and covered the sun. Temperature moderate, winds began to pick up and I could see the telltale signs of a shower in the distance. Relief was coming thanks to the cloud.
Being on the beach can make you feel a bit exposed. Like a small business that is so vulnerable to the whims of the market, it can be tough to find relief that is offered to the larger competitors with resources and plenty of volume to offer to the latest solutions providers. With recent advances in technology, that is beginning to change thanks to the cloud. Take the workforce management systems for example. Finally contingent workforce management systems are in the cloud. That means a small or medium sized business (SMB) can get the control, visibility and risk mitigation that has previously been available to only larger enterprises. Like that experience on the beach, this cloud is bringing relief to SMBs who have grown to embrace the use of the external workforce.
Jay Lash, Principal Consultant, Compass Rose Advisory
Situated in the southernmost part of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, nestled among green rolling hills, coffee plantations and dairy farms is the small town of Santa Rita do Sapucaí. A cursory glance shows Santa Rita as a charming town full of farms and churches but in reality, this picturesque little city has so much more to offer. In recent years, it has become known as “Vale da Eletrônica” or Electronics Valley because it is home to the highly respected technical school, Escola Técnica de Eletrônica Francisco Moreira da Costa and is also known as a hub for technological applications, from carpool and table service apps to toothbrushes with sensors that connect to children’s games. And Santa Rita isn’t the only city in Brazil ramping up their efforts.
Plagued by years of upheaval economically, Brazil is making a comeback and relying on the IT sector to help make their triumphant return. A $200 million joint investment with chipmaker Qualcomm, was welcomed in March by the federal government to build a semiconductor factory in the state of São Paulo where other major tech companies such as Samsung and Lenovo already have operations. Their hope for the investment is that this will be the first step for Brazil in becoming a noteworthy player in the manufacturing of high density semiconductors that are used in 4G and in the future, 5G devices, as well as IoT applications. The investment from Qualcomm is expected to bring in about 1,200 new jobs which only makes a tiny dent in solving Brazil’s unemployment rates—at 11% there is still a long way to go, but it’s a step in the right direction.
As we move further into arguably one of the worst hurricane seasons in history, our minds and hearts become even more focused on those who were affected by some of the most recent hurricanes. Each news outlet has been sharing the accounts of ordinary people performing heroic acts to save the lives of their neighbors and even strangers. In times of natural disasters, we often find our humanity and the need to reach out a hand to those in desperate need.
I wonder what happens when tragedy is not raining down? Where is the humanity? I would suggest that it is ever present if we choose to look for it. Humanity is shown in the small acts of kindness such as when a stranger goes out of their way to help someone with their luggage, or when a wallet is found and returned in complete condition.
Gandhi stated, “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
In business, leaders must be the humanity, providing servant leadership to our teams as they struggle through the daily work challenges. We must remember that our role as leaders is likened to that of a silent hero, focused on helping others in a time of need and without personal recognition.
Here are five things you can do right now to add humanity into your work culture:
Mark Pollack, Vice President, SIG University and Chief Strategy Officer, SIG
Have you ever tried having a productive day at work after being involved in a head on collision the previous day? It is pretty rough! The concussion sure made it hard to focus on what Sally was explaining at the executive meeting. You did not make the best decisions that day and I’m pretty sure you ruined your chances of bringing that one strategic partnership to fruition when your slurred speech was mistaken for intoxication. Actually, I bet you didn’t go to work the next day and I bet your employer told you to take the time you needed to heal, see the right doctors and come back stronger. Physical health issues can affect anyone at any time. For that reason, many workers are given medical insurance, sick time and other benefits to ensure they can recuperate before returning to the work place.
Yet, less visible injuries occur to our mental health and they can be just as frequent and debilitating. However, rather than providing the necessary support to workers, many are not given benefits to take time off or get a mental health checkup. Rather than receiving well wishes of getting better, most people with mental health issues deal with them in quiet because of stigmas that exist.
I decided to write my blog this week on this topic after being inundated with news reports in the recent days, weeks, months and unfortunately even years of crime and other tragic outcomes related to various forms of hate, anger and frustration. As I question my bi-racial child’s future in a hate entrenched society, and reflect on the loss of a friend at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last year, I can’t help but think that there has got to be something that could have been done to prevent this. Is there something I can do? Is there something anyone can do other than teach our children how to show compassion, consideration and love for others?
Think of a great workplace. What sets it apart from the rest?
Nearly 70 percent of employees globally agree that happiness at work is the best ingredient for a unique work experience, according to a new JLL study on the human experience in corporate workplaces. In a survey of more than 7,000 employees in 12 countries, JLL found that the “human experience” means far more than work-life balance concerns, but encompasses how empowered, engaged and fulfilled employees feel in the workplace.
Savvy C-suite executives today see a direct correlation between a productive workplace and a healthy balance sheet. Despite advances in workplace technology and increasing levels of automation in corporate real estate management itself, the facilities and workplace are ultimately about the people they house. Organizations ignore this reality at their peril.
From a real estate perspective, companies need to think about whether their real estate offers the right locations, technology and design to inspire the best from their employees. In an era of rapid business change and stiff competition for talent, creating memorable, engaging workplace experiences is more important than ever for organizational success.
JLL’s new research, Workplace Powered by Human Experience, looks at how the workplace experience and a focus on people can help businesses thrive in the new world of work. The key takeaway? Three priorities drive the human experience in today’s workplace: engagement, empowerment and fulfillment.
Engagement comes first
Ed Nolan, Managing Director, Workplace Strategy, JLL
I recently finished two-and-a-half days at Singularity University’s Global Summit (not to be confused with our own SIG Global Summit!). It was an incredible, mind-blowing, education-packed few days. Singularity packs their event with high-energy speakers who speak passionately on their area of expertise. I heard presentations on virtual reality, augmented reality, healthcare, leadership, socially responsible business, entrepreneurship, the future of work and so much more. The presentations covered a wide variety of topics, but they all had one thing in common…they all made you think about the possibilities…they all challenged the status quo…and they all embraced the concept that disruptive technologies are changing our world exponentially.
No session covered this better than keynote David Roberts whose core message was that slight variations in key assumptions could have a HUGE impact on our future. In his impassioned, funny and moving presentation Roberts connected the dots on some of the most exponential technologies our world has seen by asking everyone to consider some “what ifs” in life. His enthusiastic presentation and challenging questions inspired me to dig further.
What if…your phone was smarter than you? In 2013, Gartner predicted that by 2017 smart phones would, in fact be smarter than humans. Are they? Artificial intelligence (AI) has certainly progressed to such a point that you might argue that they are. In an article and related research, Gartner presented four phases of cognizant computing:
At Singularity University’s Global Summit, keynote speaker David Roberts posed the question, “What if machines made more money than people?” Sounds crazy…but is it? With Blockchain, could that be the way of the future?
I confess that when he asked the question, I still didn’t feel comfortable enough with the concept of blockchain to have an informed opinion on the viability of it. So I did what 77% of people do when seeking information on the Web…I Googled it…and I kept Googling it until I found articles that dissected the concept well enough that it made sense. If you are equally confused by the term, hopefully this analysis will benefit you as well…because rest assured, you WILL need to understand it—especially if you work in sourcing, outsourcing or supply chain as the potential is unlimited.
Fundamentally, blockchain allows consumers to transact directly with one another without the need for an intermediary, like a bank. If you use Paypal and select “eCheck” as your payment method to reimburse a friend for say a concert ticket, it appears to go directly from you to them. In actuality it first has to clear your bank, which can take 3-5 business days, or up to 8 days if another country is involved. Blockchain removes the middleman by using digital currency (aka cryptocurrency) which can be spent with companies or people who are set up to accept it as a form of payment. The digital currency can be converted to cold, hard cash, but with thousands of companies now taking digital payments it is not really the norm.
When most people think of Argentina, they probably think of the tango, wine, soccer fanatics or maybe the emotional play, Evita. What many may not know is that despite many setbacks and hardships, this country of proud and hardworking people has continued time and again to rise and become one of the leading exporters of products ranging from soybeans to software.
Until the arrival of the Europeans in the 16th century, Argentina was a sparsely populated country and most people lived either in small, walled towns that made pottery, grew potatoes and squash and used metal for their work, or belonged to hunter-gatherer communities. Despite the Spanish and British fighting for land and the breakup of the United Provinces into what is now Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay, Argentina has continued to grow and develop its’ resources. The first railroad was introduced in the country in 1857 and by 1912 there were over 20,000 miles of railroad throughout Argentina, making it easier to export goods to other countries. Due to exports of wool, meat and grain, by 1900 Argentina was the richest country in Latin America and the seventh richest country in the world. At the same time, the population was booming due to a new wave of immigrants from Italy and Spain. Then Argentina, like the rest of the world, was deeply affected by the Great Depression and subsequently ruled by ineffective leaders and dictators throughout much of the next century causing Argentina to become largely indebted. After a severe recession in 2001-2002, the economy began to grow rapidly for several years. This growth occurred in part by making the peso equal to the US dollar, privatizing numerous state-run companies and using part of those proceeds to pay off debts.
What is the secret to a Fortune 500 brand’s success? Brands fail not because they lose market share, but because they lose competitive differentiation and profits. The conventional definition of a brand’s value in the provider-driven market used to be the price that the brand could command over a generic competitor. In today’s consumer-driven market, the power of the brand seems to have become separated from its origins: the ability to create and sustain a long-term flow of profit by making people want to buy the product or service, and be willing to pay a higher price for it.
This shift has caused sales and marketing teams to become fixated on driving sales without regard for profitability. We are no longer living in the provider-driven market of decades past, where the company held the power and the information, and could use that to sway the consumer toward purchasing. I can’t think of one industry today that is not impacted by the consumer-driven market that exists. Consumers now hold the power with more access to information, they are the ones driving the purchasing decision, and the providers are now at the mercy of the decisions they make.