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A Team Effort

Having access to relevant data and utilizing it to its maximum potential are two different things. Predictive intelligence comes not from one manager looking at a spreadsheet that contains historical data and then coming up with some percentage increase for expected future demand. Instead, it comes from multiple internal team members, customers, and other partners linking directly to critical performance data, building time-critical relevant forecasts, executing detailed predictive analyses, and collaborating to reach consensus on what demand will be and what action is required.

For example, an account manager selling a product to a big retailer should be able to provide updated information on a regular basis about the purchasing patterns or adjustments from that customer. If the retailer is about to cancel a certain product, that sales manager needs to have a utility to immediately communicate that information throughout the organization. Then the demand plan can be updated that week or that day, which can then alert operations to slow production to account for reduced demand. Predictive intelligence comes only through effective collaboration among people at the front edge of the market, measuring demand and communicating it realistically through the organization or B2B trading networks.

Predictive intelligence is also only as good as the data. A solid DCM application will use the best data available. That's why a company's data warehouse should be the foundation for demand chain management and collaboration. Rather than being simple repositories of historical information and expensive report-generators, data warehouses can become the foundation for collaboration. Using the data warehouse as a language standard provides not only a common vocabulary, but also a consistency in measures and calculations, ensuring uniformity in reporting across the entire organization.

In this way, a company can create a forward-looking view of business performance metrics using the cleanest, most up-to-date information available. Sales can collaborate with marketing and operations to ensure that the company meets demand. A sales representative who is about to land or lose a large contract can regularly collaborate on the demand forecast with others and can update that forecast with the new information (for example new or lost sales). That update can alert the production manager to increase or decrease production accordingly. Alternatively, it can lead to a call-to-action to launch a new marketing campaign to boost flagging demand. By having the most accurate information about previous campaigns, new marketing efforts can be tailored to improve their effectiveness and accuracy. This is demand chain management in action.

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