In my last discussion I mentioned the opportunity to incorporate big data principles, practices and capabilities to analyze and identify the value streams and the collaborative performance improvements available across your partnerships.  The promise and the capabilities represented by big data will make the difference between success and failure.  The promise and the capabilities represented by big data will kick your value achievements and performance improvements into high gear and drive your partnership success into the future.  Those opportunities and resulting benefits will require a great deal of effort and planning in order to achieve.

There are some foundational decisions and plans that must be evaluated when starting this big data initiative. Developing a big data framework to support your collaborative partnership initiative is a little more complicated than other big data initiatives you make take up simply because the participants are separated by geography networks and maturity of environments.  This decision cannot be taken lightly because it will have wide ranging impact not only on your organizational capabilities but also on your relationship with your partners.  This is a challenge because of the quantity and relationships across your extended network of partners.

This first decision of where to host the big data environment must take into account the capabilities, requirements and access across your entire network.  This will be one of your early partnership initiatives however it probably shouldn’t be your first initiative.  It is important to define the big data requirements after you have developed your framework of collaboration.  Remember that you can always expand your collection.  Hosting however has a wide ranging impact on the utilization and success of the big data initiative.

The next decision is really what you are interested in analyzing.  You will notice that I skipped over evaluating what data to capture.  I bypassed this question because you should simply collect all of the information utilized in your extended supply chain, at least all of the information that you share across your partnerships.  At this point it in the life cycle of big data you will not be limited by the volume of information, you will be limited by your imagination regarding what to analyze.  The big data practice and capabilities may be the ultimate example of continuous improvement in action.  Remember it is OK if you don’t understand or haven’t identified what to analyze yet, it is not OK however if you don’t have the data when you do identify what to analyze. 

I want to come back however to the hosting point.  This opportunity will provide a control tower capability across your extended supply chain.  The control tower will be as valuable as the information available to the analytics.  I believe that it is critical to the success of your partnerships to have the information available and hosted in a location that can be utilized by all of your partners.  This means though that you should seriously evaluate a subscription type of service to host your control tower.  This would lay a strong foundation for the open and honest communications to support your current and future efforts with your partners.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

What are your communications practices with internal and external customers?  Are these practices the same for internal and external customers?