Sramana Mitra: Since you have visibility on the supply chain side of the business, what are the key trends that you’re seeing in the Big Data applications and modeling?
Joe Shamir: By the fact that you’re moving closer to the consumer, you are collecting demand data as close as possible to the shelf or to the end consumer that is providing the transaction. As a consequence, the amount of data that is related to and all the attributes related to that specific demand is created by itself over a reasonable period of time in a Big Data scenario. The tendency of supply chains in the past was to keep things on an aggregate level – upstream and make global prediction and eventually push them downstream hoping for a better service to the customers. The recent evolution goes from traditional forecasting to a more sophisticated statistical processing and demand sensing down to collecting data as close as possible to end-consumer locations. This is the first trend that is happening.
As a consequence of that, the isolation and the separation that existed in the past between sales, marketing, and supply chain is starting to disappear. They start to fade away because placement or availability of the product to specific consumer or client is essential to the marketing mix strategy and sales tactics that you have. As a consequence, this ability to process the demand and the demand analytics, which today is becoming an essential element, is a main source of activity of content that has to serve simultaneously both the commercial and supply chain parts. This is a trend that is becoming more evident.
It’s becoming more difficult for many companies that used to work with different types of sources or separate types of systems. This is a strong trend that makes this new big data a very important element in strategic source of information and knowledge to apply both the information to the commercial part as well as to the execution and operation.
Sramana Mitra: What roles are you seeing the Internet of Things trend play in this? Obviously, you are dealing with physical goods. Are you seeing more of these goods actually generating data and triggering systems? Is your system equipped to be able to deal with that?
Joe Shamir: Yes. The Internet of Things trend to increase the quality of data and the number of attributes that one is able to collect through the transactional system. The Big Data issue has two elements to it. One is the scalability that everybody is attracted to. The other one, which is more complex, is the number of attributes that are related to each phenomena or each element or product. The big change that is taking place is the increase in the number of attributes that you’re able to collect in a specific environment.
These higher number of attributes that, as you said, has generated both our ability of collecting more information – thanks to the trend towards the Internet of Things and higher level of integration into the Internet – puts us in a situation where we have a higher accuracy in the construction of the model of behavior, the patterns, and the ability to predict them. That is very important for all the new processes that, at least in the commercial side, are driving the supply chain on one hand but simultaneously are at the basis of the new sales organizations and the new structure of the multi-omni where everybody is moving at higher speeds than they expected.