“Pivoting” supply chains – using smart technology to make supply chains dynamic as well as fast

There is an insightful article in MITSloan Management Review this month.  It investigates the cutting edge of supply chain management and explains why smart technology should not be used just to make logistics faster, more reliable and cost less.  It should also be used to enable supply to adapt to “demand volatility, customer expectations for personalization, and an increasingly unpredictable operating environment”.  (The authors use the word “pivot” to describe this capability – I’m not sure if this the best way to describe it nor whether this nomenclature will become commonly used).

Examples of how “pivoting” is being achieved are:

  • “smart prediction” i.e. using AI to monitor actual point-of sale data
  • shifting decision-making to managers in the field
  • using new product launches to trial ways of incorporating adaptability into the supply chain
  • using different supply chain solutions in different geographic markets in order optimise the best solution for that region
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Posted in Chap 05 Supply chain, Sector: Manufacturing, Sector: Retail | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to ruin a perfectly lovely morning – AGAIN

Four weeks ago I blogged about how it took me nearly two hours to reorder my prescription because my surgery had switched to http://www.patientaccess.com.  Having eventually succeeded in  logging on and placing my order last month, I assumed it would be straightforward this month.  Not so…

I tried on three separate occasions to log on.  I could not.  So I phoned the surgery.  They could offer no explanation.  I therefore had to hand deliver my written prescription to the surgery.  Whilst there I enquired about the online prescription service.  Apparently there had been an “upgrade” and this had caused “some” patients to experience problems.  The solution is for me to re-register on the system…

I have not yet done this.  I am losing the will to live (and finding it hard to get the drugs that enable me to do so).

Posted in Chap 10 Processes and technology, Sector: Public Services & Charities | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Gaucho… Oucho!

The Gaucho chain of restaurants has gone into administration.  Already this year other restaurant chains have announced closures – Jamie’s Italian, Prezzo and Byrons.  This has been put down to “consumers changing the spending habits”.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44870789

But let’s look at this in a little more detail shall we?  The service firm life cycle (SFLC) – explained on pages 72-74 of our book – identifies service firms, and especially restaurant chains, typically go through four stages of development – entrepreneurial, multi-site rationalisation, growth, and maturity.  So think about how money is made at each of these stages…

In the entrepreneurial stage, the restaurant is a new concept, fresh to the market.  By definition, if it is is financially successful it will go on to the next stage of the SFLC.  If it does not make money it may survive for a short while, but never grow into a chain.

At the multi-site rationalisation stage, 2 or 3 more sites are selected and the concept is honed to maximise it’s potential. Even if the first site is profitable, it is unlikely to be able to generate enough cash for this investment, so this stage is typical financed by loans, secured on the success of the first restaurant.  With this debt burden, this mini-chain is not likely to generate a great cash surplus.  So the way you make money at this stage is to sell the business to a larger chain that wants a new concept or investors with experience of growing such chains.

Typically the growth stage is rapid.  This is for two reasons.  First, to beat potential competitors to the market, and second to generate economies of scale.  Inevitably site selection is somewhat hit and miss.  Even if detailed feasibility studies are done (often they are not) actual performance may vary significantly from what is expected.  Nonetheless the financials look good, especially revenue growth, simply because new restaurants are being opened all the time.

It is only at maturity that it becomes really hard to make money out of restaurant chains.  A growing debt burden and poor site selection during the growth stage undermine profitability in a business that has relatively low margins anyway.  Hence changes in consumer taste and/or an economic downturn make these chains very vulnerable.

Posted in Chap 14 Operations strategy, Sector: Hospitality & Tourism | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) – whim away whim away…

Great article explaining the concept of Mobility as a Service from Deloitte Insights.  Helsinki is planning that no citizen need own a vehicle to get around the city because all forms of public (e.g. bus and train) and private (e.g. taxis and bike hire) transport will be accessible and paid for through a single app – called Whim.  And just in case you think it’s just those clever Finns that are thinking this way, pilot studies of MaaS have also been trialled in Paris, Eindhoven, Gothenburg, Montpellier, Vienna, Hanover, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver, Singapore, and Barcelona.

Posted in Chap 03 Processes and life cycles, Sector: Transportation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Service upgrade

I have not been blogging because my internet speed had completely s l o w e d  d o w n….  But I have now upgraded the server and normal service will be resumed.

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Subway’s redesign of their servicescape

The new look Subway – refurbishment started a year ago, and will go global.

Posted in Chap 04 Location and design, Sector: Hospitality & Tourism | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Systemic failure creates significant down time (or how to ruin a perfectly lovely morning)

I have just tried to renew my prescription online.  This should take roughly one minute – find the website, click on a couple of screens, tick two boxes and I’m done.  Not this morning.

http://www.patientaccess.com has changed its website (apparently because of GDPR – really?).  So I had to re-enter my registration code and password.  Now I remembered my password, but not that one of the letters had to be in capitals, so when it was not accepted I tried to change my password.  This meant entering a lot of personal details and then awaiting an email to inform me of my new password.  Or so I thought…

When I clicked on the link in the email, it took me to a page that informed me that a verification code had been sent to me, which would allow me to then change the password.  No such code had been sent – either in the email I had received or separately.  So I phoned the surgery….

When I eventually got through (“we are sorry that all our lines are busy at the moment”) I was told that I would have to re-register on the system and that I could only do this by taking I.D. to the surgery itself.  So I locked the house, got the car out of the garage and drove the three miles to the surgery.  The Receptionist checked my I.D., made me wait whilst she answered the phone, and gave me two A4 sheets explaining how I could re-register.  When I enquired if I was the only one to experience this problem, I was informed that everyone who requested prescriptions online would have to do what I had just done….

I drove home and followed the seven steps needed to re-register.  I was then able to order my prescription.  Time taken to do this 1 hour 5 minutes.  Stress levels heightened.  Must remember to take my anti-depressant….

Posted in Chap 09 Quality, Chap 10 Processes and technology, Sector: Public Services & Charities | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The only trend in design is be different to the last design

My headline is somewhat cynical.  It arise from looking at an interesting fastcodesign.com article about a new hotel – Sister City – planned for New York next year.  It is a “minimalist micro-hotel concept” apparently.  Or in common parlance an upmarket budget hotel…..

Posted in Chap 04 Location and design, Sector: Hospitality & Tourism | Tagged | Leave a comment

21 jobs of the future

Take with a pinch of salt anyone who tells you that they know what will happen over the next ten years.  Having said that, here is one Dutch company’s forecast about new jobs that will be created as a result of AI and automation.  There’s a free downloadable report, but also a 4 minute video.  The ‘new’ jobs include ‘virtual store sherpa’, ‘data detective’, ‘walker/talker’, and ‘fitness commitment trainer’ – you get the idea.

Posted in Chap 11 Jobs and people | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Today’s complex world is turning teamwork into “extreme teaming”

Interesting interview in the MITSloan Management Review with Prof. Amy Edmondson, co-author of a new book entitled “Extreme Teaming: Lessons in Complex, Cross-Sector Leadership” (published by Emerald).  In it she argues that increasingly innovation requires specialists from across different fields of expertise, often from different organisations, to work together on complex problems.  In addition, these project teams may be located on different continents and working in different time zones.  All of these factors stretch the norms of teamwork to their limit and beyond – hence the term “extreme teaming”.  In the interview she goes on to explain the skills needed to ensure successful innovation project outcomes.

Posted in Chap 13 Projects and crises | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment