Monday, 19 November 2012

Big Data, Fukushima and applied research to support procurement

There haven't been many procurement lessons learnt from the Japanese Fukushima disaster. It is also rare that we hear of any useful applied research in SCM and Procurement. So when both converge in a Financial Times report on the work of Manchester Business School with BMW my attention was grabbed.

The background report itself is an interesting story relating to Supply Risk Management and development of an innovative tool. Specifically, following the Fukushima disaster, one of BMW's tier one suppliers couldn't deliver due to a lower tier subcontractor being within the Fukushima fallout zone - as a result BMW identified a need for greater supply chain insight. That need seems to have led to the students developing a tool for analysing internet content (Big Data), which could help with supply risk management. The tools being tested at the present are reported to: "read, search, sort and select large amounts of information in a systematic way, building up real-time profiles of each supplier and sub-supplier". That strikes me as a clever tool.

Of the examples cited one identified a risk of a supplier being unable to pay wages through content found in a local newspaper, while another relates to identifying a new supplier in Mexico.

It is not clear whether MBS are developing a marketing plan for their solution, but hat's off to them and the potential to reduce their student debt.

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