The bigger the enterprise, the more the division of labor between various departments. These divisions end up being enormous barriers to efficient exchange of information and ideas for ways to improve the way is business done. What happens instead is smaller, less-effective changes at low levels of process or information flow. This is a timeless problem in retail, logistics, healthcare and elsewhere that no one has solved until now.
The IT department could be the way to resolve this, but they’re very busy spending the majority of their budget just to keep the lights on.
As the world moves faster and information comes at us at higher velocity, volume and variation (Big Data), the need to move past these divisions will become life or death for companies (and sometimes for people). But it won’t happen if we rely on humans and monolithic applications like SAP and others to share information across organizational silos. That was so 2005.
The new way
Smart players are using complex event processing (commonly known as CEP or Business Events) to watch for patterns that exist across departments and responsibilities (boundaries in the data) that humans don’t share and couldn’t really track, anyway. An excellent example is RFID. As goods move through the supply chain, RFID sensors allow ‘pulling’ and aggregation of data automatically, without any human intervention, that can be used in the moment for analysis and automated or upper management decisions.
If a product has left the supplier, is stuck in customs, or is moving quickly at the storefront, this information is available through the systems that collect and watch for patterns in data that can provoke responses that improve efficiency. No worries that the receiving docks don’t play well with the retail staff. Data streaming in from simple RFID devices can allow much greater efficiency in:
- Understanding and redistributing stocks as necessary as quickly as conditions change
- Seeing selling patterns in the moment and better allocating employees
- Spotting supply chain issues and proactively breaking the log jams
RFID is just one example. Event processing is what allows the world’s largest logistics company to reroute packages based on weather, volumes and relative capacity in the network. Without a ‘brain’ sitting above the organizational level, human nature/limitations and information silos would prevent the right thing happening in the moments that count. There are many examples, but you probably get the idea by now.
Yes, you can increase efficiency when nothing else works. The trick is to know the classic limitations of humans and information and to find a way to get above those challenges. Watching and responding to events in the ecosystem is the ideal solution.