Friday data stories: Taking data in manufacturing company seriously

Companies are run on processes.  Processes make it possible (and probable) that good things can be repeated and bad things avoided. If you talk to business and IT execs, and other influential people in manufacturing companies, they will tell you that processes are absolutely necessary without which there would be no growth or viability in the face of competitive and macro economic pressure.

For years, enterprise software providers took advantage of this sentiment and built big companies selling software primarily focused on processes.  I’m sure you can come up with a few examples.

But, do you think this bias for processes will last?  I sense some changes coming in companies that suggest processes will be supplanted in importance by data.  Take Big Data.  It’s one of those interesting trends we continue hearing more about each day.  On a previous post I wrote that product data is big data. Back then, I gave an example I still stand behind,

Here’s another example of horizontal scale Big Data: imagine you have a process spanning multiple vertical systems (PDM, ERP, CRM). The ability to identify all information linked to this process can be an interesting and useful task. This is a typical example of horizontal big data that I believe would be relevant to manufacturing companies. 

Earlier this week, I was reading a Forbes article, How Big Data Came to PepsiCo.  Diego Saenz, founder of Data Driven CEO, talks about a data project at PepsiCo and the reasons why PepsiCo decided to take on the data challenge. Among the reasons mentioned, was competitive pressure.  Here’s my favorite quote from the article:

The biggest benefit came from combining customer level data with other data–in particular logistics and manufacturing information. Combining sales and distribution data with logistics and manufacturing improved the plant operations in some very significant ways.

The other interesting point made in the article had to do with the huge difference between how companies amassing data versus how they actually use data.  Here’s the passage:

Businesses often find it much easier to amass huge quantities of data than it is to find meaning in it. Any advice on how to go about looking for meaning in the sort of data that you’ve collected?

Most companies have a long way to go in this area as data is often a highly underutilized asset. CEOs and CMOs cannot be content with just “having” data but must challenge themselves and their people to use the data. This is hard because it requires discipline and a serious commitment of time and effort Finding meaning is not a straightforward task–it’s about making connections that are not obvious.

What do we think at Inforbix? Connecting disparate islands of data together resonates with us.  It’s something we fervently believe is essential for driving innovation and making great decisions.  Inforbix deploys technology that helps link islands of data together in manufacturing companies.  Our approach is to offer a simple and affordable means of data access regardless of source or location.  By doing so, we think people in manufacturing companies will take better advantage of all their data, big and small.  Have a great weekend.

Best, Oleg

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