Technology is not 'a magic bullet' for operations
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Technology is not 'a magic bullet' for operations

Technology is not 'a magic bullet' for operations

Kapoklog Brief:

  • New tech promises a world of opportunities for manufacturers, but unstructured data, talent gaps and incompatible business processes must all be overcome to reap the benefits.
  • HfS Research and Accenture surveyed 465 director-level-and-above operations professionals to examine how back-office professions were keeping pace with corporate changes focused on adapting to rising consumer expectations, Big Data and digitalization.
  • The study reveals a paradox of needs versus the ability to implement change: 42% of executives see technology as an opportunity, but 80% of respondents said 50% to 90% of their data is "unstructured and largely inaccessible," while lack of talent or legacy business processes obstruct the potential for change.
In order to reach Intelligent Operations executives must focus on these five tenets.
In order to reach "Intelligent Operations" executives must focus on five tenets.
 Kapoklog Insight:

Debra Polishook, group chief executive at Accenture Operations, said it best within the press release: "Our research suggests technology alone is not a magic bullet."

Various studies suggest executives are anxious to adopt new technologies, as they look for new ways to drive both top-line and bottom-line growth. Supply chain is no longer about cost-cutting, but driving value, and tools like artificial intelligence, machine learning and the internet of things promise to help make operations more efficient. 

Yet, despite the promise, a big problem remains within the industry: it is not clear exactly how best to use or what to do once the emerging tech is implemented.

Use cases for new technology remain unclear to most executives.
Use cases for new technology remain unclear to most executives.

The Accenture and HfS study provide a concrete example. Although 92% of respondents said data was important to achieving business scores (answering 3 or more on a 5-point scale), 61% consider aggregation, curation or data lakes as their primary data management strategy.

However, much of that data collected is not useful. Part of the problem, more than 50% of respondents said, is that current talent does not have the skills or adaptability to analyze the information. Another is the prevalence of unstructured data:

How much unstructured data do you deal with?
Unstructured data prevails within supply chains.


Still, many companies have begun embracing plug-and-play software and ERP upgrades to start down the path of transformation.

The study found 42% of its respondents had concrete plans to "replace or modernize" their legacy systems, while 25% had already done so. A poll of Supply Chain Dive's operations audience last week saw similar results, as 47% said they had conducted an ERP upgrade less than a year ago. 

"To successfully transform their operations, organizations must take a holistic approach that integrates business process and industry expertise, human ingenuity, and intelligent technologies," said Polishook.

As companies embrace IoT strateges, or other data-driven efforts, executives should remember to simultaneously adopt new business processes that will generate value from new technology.

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