While industry supply chain teams continue to work on achieving 2016 year-end strategic, tactical, operational line-of-business business and supply chain focused performance objectives, this is the opportunity for Supply Chain Matters to reflect on our prior 2016 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains that we published just before the start of the year.

Our research arm, The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group has published annual predictions since our founding in 2008.  Our approach is to view predictions as an important resource for our clients and readers, thus we do not view them as a light, one-time exercise. Not only do we research and publish our annualized predictions, but every year in November, we look-back and score our predictions for the year.

As has been our custom, our scoring process is based on a four-point scale.  Four will be the highest score, an indicator that we totally nailed the prediction.  One is the lowest score, an indicator of, what on earth were we thinking? Ratings in the 2-3 range reflect that we probably had the right intent but events turned out different. Admittedly, our self-rating is subjective and readers are welcomed to add their own assessment of our predictions concerning this year.

In our prior Part One posting, we looked backed on our prediction for overall economic climate and business planning and the outlook for sourcing and procurement.

In our Part Two posting, we revisited our prediction for continued turbulence and change surrounding global transportation, along with our prediction related to the widening of supply chain talent and skill gaps.

In our Part Three posting, we revisited and reported on our industry specific supply chain predictions for this year.

 

2016 Prediction Six: Certain Industry S&OP Processes Would Morph to Broader Forms of Integrated Business Planning and Product Management.

Self-Rating: 2.5 (Max Score 4.0)

The term integrated business planning is often depicted as a specific technology vendor term but in reality it is a desire that all functions of a firm be aligned at a single set of financial, business, supply chain operational and tactical business outcomes.

Multiple surveys of multi-industry Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) processes consistently point to existing frustrations in setting the right key performance indicators, investing more time in collecting data than in analyzing implications of decisions and insuring expected business results.  Some point to the need for the S&OP process to be able to more directly influence top-line revenue growth along with closing the product demand and supply gaps of existing plans.

A lot of these challenges remain driven by lack of integration among various financial, line-of-business and supply chain decision-support systems, not to mention integration to new product planning and portfolio management. All exist as islands of information that were not pre-designed to integrate into a singular decision-support process. The unfortunate reality is that the decision process supporting S&OP remains firmly rooted in spreadsheets linked to various disparate internal and structured applications and unstructured information.

For 2016, we anticipated that certain S&OP teams, those experiencing high levels of value-chain complexity and business change, would begin to morph S&OP process and decision-making with broader information and contextual decision-making components and begin to identify and address obstacles for incorporating key information integration from product management and financial systems.  We predicted that S&OP teams have new options and paths towards their need for more integrated business planning and that the attractiveness for such movements will increase in 2016 and beyond.

The latter part of our prediction has indeed become far more evident in that there are today, far more defined business process and supporting information technology paths directed at IBP. For the former prediction, our sensing of such efforts lead us to believe that such morphing has generally not occurred.

While certain very large enterprises may have had the dedicated financial, IT and people process support e resources to augment their S&OP processes into broader forms of IBP, the clear majority did not have the bandwidth, senior management support or resources to undertake such efforts.  Organizational barriers and cultures remain to be overcome, as is the compelling business case.

Our sensing of systems integrators and consultants specializing in S&OP augmentation indicate that multi-industry teams were far more concentrated in understanding what Cloud computing options meant to their various processes, and what various technology vendors were offering for IBP support. Some of the larger ERP platform providers such as SAP remain in the process of trying to integrate the various dimensions. Integrators and consultants found more engagements related to establishing S&OP or overall business planning groundwork initiatives.

For these reasons, we have scored this prediction in a lower quadrant. However, we still believe that IBP efforts will drive substantial business benefits.  The question now reflects a reasonable timeframe.+

 

2016 Prediction Seven: Internet of Things (IoT) Initiatives Would Continue to Dive into Realities of Line of Business Strategy and Deployment

Self-Rating: 3.5 (Max Score 4.0)

Our 2015 prediction was that cross-industry interest levels surrounding products and services leveraging IoT would continue to attract wide multi-industry interest.  Indeed, that high level of interest and initial investment continued.

We predicted that in 2016, the realities in the lack of consistent global-wide standards addressing data security concerns would provide visible challenges for broader industry deployments, and that challenge will remain. On Supply Chain Matters, we highlighted one expert’s observation indicating a territorial battle among operations technology focused teams and those responsible for the security of company networks that centers squarely on information security concerns. We joined others in predicting that information hacking will provide additional headline visibility in 2016, increasing the pressure on technology providers and device producers to focus more on information security remediation techniques. Hacking incidents indeed dominated both  business media as well as the U.S. Presidential election news with many high-profile incidents of information cyber-attacks. In October, we posted a Supply Chain Matters commentary noting that more powerful and widespread cyber-attacks were the wake-up call for IoT. In the late October incident that struck DNS provider Dyn, Inc., the hackers created a malware program that was carried out, in part, by calling into service unsuspecting devices connected to the Internet, and said devices included digital video recorders and webcams in people’s homes that were taken over by malware and used to help execute the massive cyberattack. Once more, hundreds of thousands of existing devices were believed to have been infected with the malware. The reality of information security did occur and the IoT community is compelled to address this ongoing challenge.

It is rather important to not get caught-up in the multiple predictions of billions of devices connected to the Internet. Rather it is very important to differentiate B2C consumer focused and consumer market use cases from those of broader B2B needs, often referred to as the Industrial Internet. The consumer device sector may well be quagmire in conflicting standards, protocols and security vulnerabilities.

In 2016, we anticipated that B2B focused manufacturers and services providers will broaden their perspectives on connected devices and services, especially in the notions of the realities for being a software-driven vs. a hardware-driven enterprise. That included leveraging intellectual property and software knowledge into more innovative products and services that result in new revenue streams. Enhancing customer engagements and value-added services is the obvious priority. The value of products will increasingly be defined by the embedded sensors, software and consequent added services that products provide for customers. Innovators such as Flex, Cardinal Health, General Electric, John Deere, Siemens, Tesla and others, where senior management embraced the potential of connected devices we believed would continue to lead in these development and deployment efforts. Indeed, the above has occurred and by our lens, the most visible and active player is turning out to be GE and its Digital Business unit. (See subsequent posting related to GE Digital)

We expected some IoT initiatives to stumble in the year because of conflicts in approach and stakeholder interests. We believed that efforts championed and funded by line-of-business groups directed at customer value would have more success than those championed by internal functional groups and focused solely on the “Things.”  It was rather important for supply chain and product development teams to align efforts with LOB needs and sponsorship and avoid data silo approaches, particularly with over emphasis on singular software applications. We believed that successful IoT initiatives would stem from data streaming architecture that can feed many different software applications. We anticipated most IoT initiatives in 2016 to be elementary in scope with plans for more peer-to-peer device interaction to come in later years when standards matured.

The above stated, this was a prediction area that was difficult to gage and score. Feedback from our network of contacts among system integrators indicated that many clients did not initially express needs related to IoT initiatives, but with further probing and investigation, integrators and consultants were able to educate prospects on taking initial pilot steps toward connected device applications or business pilots. While attending PTC’s LiveWorks’s IoT technology conference in June, we reported on a panel of systems integrators indicating most customers are not seeking out a specific IoT initiative per-se. Instead, they were seeking technology to assist in resolving use cases involving ongoing business challenges in manufacturing or supply chain or tapping new business opportunities and revenue streams. One panelist indicated that the current hype surrounding IoT has many teams “scratching their heads” in terms of selecting start points or understanding what business problems IoT will solve. From our lens, that feedback reflected needs for broader market education. Where projects lean toward IoT, the sales and approval cycle tends to be elongated, cited in the range of 6-12 months, with indications that discussions representing different business functions such as IT, manufacturing, service management and other functions are involved.

As for technology vendors, we predicted that AT&T, Cisco Systems, Google, Microsoft, PTC, Symantec to be high profile market participants.  We anticipated that the battle of IoT platforms will rage again in 2016, which will become very confusing for businesses and selection teams to follow. This was about vendor market positioning and jockeying for being the adopted standard. Regarding our listing of high profile vendors, we actually observed GE and Microsoft, and to a lesser extent Cisco and PTC, to be the higher profile participants. Major ERP providers Oracle and SAP upped their game in strategic alliances and initiatives directed at capturing streaming information produced by edge devices into various manufacturing or supply chain management support applications.

We alerted our readers and clients to expect a high amount of M&A activity in 2016 associated with the IoT segment, as various providers jockey for market dominance or broad and deep expertise. This was an obvious no-brainer prediction and 2016 featured a litany of billion dollar M&A deals that had deep-pocketed technology vendors making strategic moves for entry into various industry specific segments and applications, not to mention additional efforts of strategic alliances.  Some highlights included:

  • PTC’s acquisition of software developer Kepware
  • SAP’s alliance efforts tapping PTC’s IoT technology stack
  • To some degree, IBM’s acquisition of The Weather Company
  • Cisco’s acquisition of Jasper Technologies for $1.4 billion
  • Announced strategic alliances involving Microsoft with both GE Digital and SAP
  • Rockwell Collins acquisition of B/E Aerospace
  • Numerous acquisitions by GE Digital that included ServiceMax, Bit Stew Systems, io, among others
  • Samsung’s acquisition of Harmon International for $8 billion
  • Qualcomm’s acquisition of NXP Semiconductor for $39 billion.

 

Overall, our 2016 IoT prediction missed on implementation momentum but was spot-on related to technology and software vendor M&A and alliance efforts to gain footholds in the market.

We come to the end of Part Four in our scoring series of this year’s predictions. In Part Five, we wrap-up  with our final two predictions, those being geopolitical events such as TPP impacting global supply chain strategies, and our final prediction that Amazon and Alibaba would broaden their investments in last-mile fulfillment.

Now that we have revisited 8 of our original predictions related to this year, we welcome reader comments and observations related to any of our predictions and consequent events. As always, you can add your voice in the Comments section appearing at the end of any of our postings.

Bob Ferrari

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