OK, I admit it; I'm a data geek, having spent a considerable part of my career worrying about mundane things like data accuracy and governance. I think too many companies take their underlying data for granted and are surprised when data problems compromise new initiatives and capabilities. Consequently, I find myself alarmed that data quality has not been as prominent as I believe it should be in discussions about things like mobility, cloud and the digital supply chain.
Although it is high up on the hype curve, I've not met anyone who doesn't think that mobility is poised to revolutionize the way commerce is transacted – indeed, in many places that transformation has already begun. At the same time, I see these conceptual demonstrations about what consumers will be able to do through their smart mobile devices, and while I think these capabilities are really powerful I do get concerned about the underlying data. In the context of these kinds of new capabilities, data is a challenge, and one frankly that we worry manufacturers are not focusing on. As more and more applications extend to the mobile platform, driving more frequent and higher level decisions, there is a tendency to assume that the information is correct – when it may indeed not be so! Along with the growth of mobility, there needs to be a similar focus on ensuring that the underlying data is accurate and timely.
From a consumer perspective, I think it is important to consider the notion of data accuracy and how it relates to the expectations from mobility tools. If, for example, I have the ability to determine that a local retailer has an item I want in-stock, and I get in my car to go and buy it – does the retailer have a greater obligation to ensure that item really is in stock than they would if, under today's paradigm, I went out 'blindly' looking for that same item? I suspect so! I think as technology establishes higher expectations in the minds of consumers, manufacturers and retailers must raise their games – and it all starts with better and more accurate data! At the same time, as manufacturers embrace digital capabilities within their supply chains, the same obligations for data accuracy emerge. It will no longer be satisfactory to capture 'almost all' of my delivery data – and paper-based processes will quickly fall victim to clock speed pressures and productivity bottle-necks. Further, as companies invest in deeper and more comprehensive analytics capabilities (for customer, supplier, performance or benchmarking efforts), the old adage 'garbage in, garbage out' comes back with a vengeance.
At IDC Manufacturing insights, we're taking a fresh look at on-shelf availability through the lens of the digital supply chain, and what it means for companies in 2011 and onwards. Suffice to say that data accuracy and governance is a critical component of these kinds of capabilities – just as it always has been. Company's who fail to address data issues, or to recognize its fundamental importance to new ways of conducting commerce, do so at their own peril!
What do you think? We'd love to hear other opinions!