Today’s supply chain managers track down the best available numbers, guesstimate demand and place orders with primary contractors.
By 2025 business will use continuously “on” connections across real-time demand and supply chains that connect customers, vendors and suppliers in real-time. The world will work together to reach its goals.
Arriving at your company’s local office is like going aboard an aircraft carrier while it’s operating at full speed — with everyone at the helm.
An entire floor of a tall building is one open futuristic room with three walls of conference rooms surrounding its central area. In its middle, multiple seating areas have couches, arm chairs and large-screen teleportals on wheeled stands. Its task areas have work tables with wheeled chairs and electronic white board/screens — with its tables surfaces large-screen teleportals. For desks, scattered cubes are oversized so two to six people can work together in each one. All the areas have more than one teleportal, with configurations like tablets, laptops, desktop surfaces, and flat-panel screens of various sizes.
Activity is everywhere. The company’s global manufacturing team has a couple of members in the local office, in a large teleportal-filled cube. Most of the team is elsewhere but alive on the teleportals, along with a live dashboard and the company’s manufacturing software. Together they’re making real-time decisions and entering change orders in the manufacturing system.
The distribution team is also worldwide and continuously connected 24×7. Its local members are in a task area with the local delivery schedule displayed on the table’s surface. Three dispatchers are live on a large-screen teleportal. They’re rescheduling and adjusting customer deliveries.
Global call centers are also spread across continents, with operators in each region. Here local operators greet each customer respectfully in a personal, live focused connection. The company grew its call centers into a 24×7 worldwide team with continuous management. They keep all regions and time zones humming with calls in local languages, times and cultures.
A human resources manager is in an armchair with several large eye-level teleportals. She’s posting new jobs on the left screen, reviewing applicants on the right, and conducting live interviews with the best candidates on the screen in front of her.
In computing’s early days this would have been called multi-tasking. But now it’s just life. Work is digital, just as living, learning and being entertained are digital.
The unexpected happens as you enter your meeting’s conference room.
The company’s CEO interrupts everyone’s screens personally. All employees see him address them personally.
The CEO asks all employees to attend an emergency company-wide meeting in a few hours, at Noon Eastern US time. Employees in Europe are asked to attend even though it will be their evening. Employees in Asia are asked to get up in the middle of their night to “be there.”
Since your one-hour meeting starts at 10 AM and will be over by 11, you decide to go ahead with it, and send a quick meeting reminder to confirm it.
Teleportal processing makes your screens come to life
As you start your 10 AM meeting, the conference room is almost empty of physical people. Most of those attending are digital, their real locations scattered around the US and Europe, with a few in Asia who wake up in the middle of their night to attend.
The room is set up as a double-wide. A teleportal uses one of the room’s side walls to project a replica of the conference room. The projected replica includes a second conference table, and those attending digitally have their full body images projected there by the teleportal. Its processing blends them in to make it look like one large meeting room with everyone present at a physical meeting.
Because this is an infrequent group you set the digital attendees to display with their name, title and location next to their images.
To open the meeting you raise your voice slightly to address everyone attending, no matter what continent they’re on. “We’ll dive right in so we can end before 11. You’ll have a full hour between this and the CEO’s emergency meeting.”
You stand next to the head of the physical table. A large teleportal screen covers the wall at the front of the room, behind you. You control it with a tablet-size teleportal in your hand.
The meeting’s title is displayed on the large teleportal screen behind you: The Future of Our Business Processes: Continuous Connections Across Companies.
You press a control to start a pre-planned effect. The title dissolves into a live view of the Earth at night from a satellite’s remote teleportal. Asia is at the center, its cities lit brightly, the clouds brightened slightly, the oceans dark.
You touch a control to apply a filter, making most of the lights go away. “The lights that are left are colored yellow,” you tell the group. “These companies are in our supply chain, and we have very limited contact with them.”
You look around the room. “The only part of our company that talks to suppliers is our manufacturing team. Some of you are on it. You work with the lead suppliers who are our prime contractors, and you don’t work with their sub-contractors.”
You press another control to add another filter. A splash of about 20 green lights are added to the yellow ones. “The green lights are our distributors. They move the components from the sub-contractors to the primary contractors, and then move the finished products around the world to retailers.”
“Our logistics team has the same limits when it works with our distributors. We talk to the primary distributors at the top of the chain, and we’re out of touch with the rest of the distributors at lower levels.”
You press a control and the Earth spins slowly, showing a time-lapse recording of night and day, the shadows of night and dawn moving across the world, its cities twinkling at night.
“It’s the same everywhere. We work directly with only the top of our manufacturing and distribution pipeline. We depend on a supply chain that uses sub-contracting, so we don’t even need to talk to them.”
“We think we only need to know our sales, the orders pipeline that feeds our manufacturing and distributions decisions.”
While you speak you switch to a different satellite without any filters. The Earth dissolves into a fixed daytime view of the planet. Great Britain and Europe are at the center with a swirl of clouds around the North Pole, Africa at the bottom, and night’s shadow over Eastern Europe.
“Yet here’s an example of how well our company communicates.” You activate an automated transition and the view rapidly zooms the Earth closer. As the ground grows rapidly London appears and swells to fill the screen. The view drops through light clouds and plummets right toward Harrods, one of the most famous department stores on London’s Knightsbridge, one of the most exclusive shopping streets in the world.
Plunging through the roof at Harrods the view auto-switches into the office of a head buyer at Harrods. He is in a meeting but looks up and smiles.
“Hi Basil,” you say. Basil winks and goes back to his meeting while the view switches to an overview of his office. “Yeah, we set up a focused connection with Basil, but you get the point. We work personally with everyone we think is important to us, everywhere in the world.”
“We also do more,” you say, activating another control. The teleportal’s view zooms out of the buyer’s office and flies through a map inside Harrods. It stops on a view of the store’s cosmetics and perfumes floor, from that area’s ceiling. They look down at the sights and sounds of shoppers.
“We’re in Harrods’ perfume and cosmetics section.” You move the view down to where you’re looking across the shoppers from just above eye level.
You activate a data filter and say, “We’re now identifying each shopper and valuing them, just like every retailer does. Their net worths come from credit reporting services,” you add, as a colored name and number appears over each person’s head — green for highest, yellow for average and red for those with a negative net worth.
“It’s great that we can see and do everything on the retail side, but it’s appalling that we don’t have this kind of visibility and connections inside our supply chain.”
“The goal of this meeting is to change that.”
Image credits: Shutterstock.