Q&A: The future of big data, wearable tech and where you can get your greatest supply chain ROI

eft caught up with Fred Hartung, VP of Supply Chain Solutions & Logistics, Jabil at the Hi-tech conference in Amsterdam

Fred Hartung is responsible for events planning, capacity planning, production planning, inventory control, supply chain solution & tool development along with logistics and trade compliance for Jabil.

At eft, we’ve conducted research and found that 40% of participants were not implementing big data analytics to enhance their supply chain operations and 30% were looking into it. Any surprises there to you?

Not surprised at all, we personally are well along the path, we actually set up business intelligence tools about three or four years ago off our dashboard which we actually called an amp metric (actual measurable proactive) and we would go through our data and automatically identify the opportunities or issues and we would quantify how to solve them and then with advent of Big Data coming along in the last couple years it’s been much more feasible to really do across the whole enterprise as well as extend that to suppliers and our customers. We’ve actually developed our control tower platform which is really a platform with a lot of different applications for risk, operations, manufacturing and it’s a competitive differentiator for us.

Most companies don’t really know how to get started, one of the ways we feel was successful is that we didn’t go through IT for this we hired business people that were interested in solving issues and they also happened to be programmers. We put them with functional experts to get a quick, rapid development. What we use IT for is to understand the architecture that we should use, ensure we have the right security in place as well as staying on top of technology. Technology is really moving into a commodity space and there are so many different applications that are going out of this. The key thing is to be able to keep putting things out there but making sure that your infrastructure and architecture allows you to move in multiple directions.

With Big Data, it’s easier to make tenfold improvement than 10% improvement. With big data, you can make disruptive changes to your supply chain and from that standpoint I’m very confident of the benefits we will get moving forward.

What key supply chain areas do you think the focus should be in?

Certain risk management identifications and proactive minimization of risk. We now have visbility of all parts of the supply chain, through a data where you can manage and understand what your exposures are and get them before they turn to smoke let alone a fire.  A big aspect that we’re also looking at is in term of the instruction data, with tweets and that aspect is going out and actually getting product introduction and market feedback.

What is your take on wearable tech, where do you see its future?

Wearable tech is big for a lot of customers but there are different applications for wearable tech, the best example is with the health & fitness bands, so you can monitor what your heart rate is, what your blood pressure is but the next step is through telemetry which is very cheap now. You can now monitor whole populations and understand what health trends are and what’s actually going on with people. That was impossible in studies before. 

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