Real Time Data
Don’t you hate it when someone tells you all about a movie that you’ve just told them you haven’t seen yet?
So, I’m not going to do that, but I will make reference to it. Eye in the sky. Go see it. It’s not only very well acted, directed and shot, it’s also really very engaging and thought-provoking.
Cutting directly to the chase, there is a parallel between this piece of cinema and some of the current trends in procurement technology, from cloud-based procurement solutions to software designed to deliver greater procurement process automation.
How so? You may well ask.
In the industry right now there is a buzz about real-time data analytics and the notion that large complex enterprises, perhaps yours amongst them, could take a quantum jump from a position where they have little insight as to what is going on, to one where every piece of intel is right at their fingertips 24/7.
Without giving anything away, Eye in the sky, rather brilliantly showcases the limitations that knowing everything right now can impose on one’s ability to act rationally and with consideration.
One of Procurement’s key roles is to identify and act on opportunities for savings, value and even cash growth for the business. How, exactly, is real time streamed data going to help?
Certainly, one could argue the case about managing supply lines, and inventory and conformance with KPI and so on, but really? Is that how we can best support business growth?
Surely, the importance of data to procurement is what it tells you about what to do next and that can’t be derived from what’s happening this very second, but what has happened over the recent past. It is patterns in data that are meaningful and for there to be discernable patterns there needs to be a certain time-lag.
Put simply, every apparently highly significant data event that pops up on your dashboard in real-time could, with the benefit of hindsight, be nothing more than a transient blip, an aberration. Time must pass for you to be able to tell whether the significance is real or not.
What is clear is that procurement information best practice of the future will have a real time element to it, but that is likely to be more effective if the data collection, aggregation and cleansing is performed in real-time, hands-off and governed by machines, which will free-up the time to consider the meaning and context. It would likely be a mistake to assume that just because the data is “crunched” in real time that it must be consumed and acted-upon in the same way.