Perhaps one of the more surprising moments of the last two years was the discovery of supply chain fragility. The public and private sector alike reeled at how a growing global challenge such as the pandemic quickly upended decades of supply chain growth and collaboration. Since then, the industry has doubled down on (re)building a resilient supply chain that has the intelligence to still serve customers and clients no matter the event.
In this roundtable debate, Maya Natarajan, Senior Director Knowledge Graphs, Neo4J; George Eapen, Group CISO, Petrofac; and Edosa Odaro, Head of Data, AIG, discuss their own attempts to support their, or their clients’, networks, whilst evaluating the core components of a resilient supply chain, as Jon Bernstein moderates.
The debate began with an introduction on graphs. Building a resilient supply chain requires understanding the different actors and mapping their relationships. This is becoming increasingly difficult as the complexity of supply chains ever evolves. Traditional relational data concepts can no longer support an accurate view of one’s network. This is where graphs come in, says Maya of Neo4J.
“Neo4J is a graph data platform for data analytics and graph management,” said Maya. “It was born out of graph theory and is a far more accurate way of visualizing and analyzing data, and, by its nature therefore, can tell us much more about our supply chains.”
These ecosystems are populated by customers and clients, service providers, buyers and far more. Relationships are not one-to-one, but one to many, and many to many. This interconnectedness is perfect for a mathematical concept such as graph theory to expand into a graph-based data visualization tool.
Building resilient supply chains
With this context set, Jon then asked Edosa of AIG for his understanding of the supply chain within an insurance context, given it isn’t the first sector one thinks when considering dynamic connections.
“As an insurance provider we need to understand the core components of our service: cost of insurance and the risk of that insurance,” said Edosa. “We need to associate the pricing with the insurance so we can underwrite that; then we can sell the policy. And it’s all underpinned by data. [Our supply chain] considers the complexity of new customer acquisitions, and our networks of agents and sales channels, which means there are also subsets of supply chains to consider too.”
To conserve that resilient supply chain, every single part of it has to work well. Edosa is an award-winning data leader and is continually reviewing the analytics of the business; to fulfill the expectations of customers and clients requires a data-led approach to supply chain management, in an intelligent way, which he went into more detail later in the debate.
Within the oil and gas industry, Petrofac has had its own reckoning with its supply chain.
George Eapen was the business’ former Group CISO, and now Group CIO, so has been able to interact with its network from multiple contexts. He explained that it would have been too time consuming and difficult to operate if he were to review every single supplier across the system. Instead they have built a smarter way of scoring new suppliers, looking at KYC, security and due diligence, so they only accept new vendors if they pass those hurdles.
He also has made sure there was a diversity of suppliers to build resilience into the chain.
“For me, it’s a part of assuring a culture of resilience and visibility within the supply chain,” George explained.
A particular highlight of the discussion was the value of transparency when considering a resilient supply chain.
Maya had in fact posed this question to a number of her customers for a richer understanding of how the last two years has impacted their networks.
“A more resilient supply chain is a smarter one,” said Maya. “These learn to adapt to events like the pandemic, and include the following traits: maintain transparency with suppliers so you can identify elements of the production process and match them with suppliers, and isolate those within potentially at-risk areas, and get organized on alternatives. Then you should identify vulnerabilities and the relative likelihood of those being at risk in different scenarios.”
The U.S. Army is a client of Neo4J and here Maya provided an illustrative example of how the above traits can design a more intelligent, agile chain.
Jon moved the conversation on to data-driven relationships with stakeholders across the supply chain and how those can be managed, before they closed on their 2022 priorities as we look to new global compliance and regulations.
Watch the roundtable, above, to view the roundtable and the insights shared by the panelists, in full.
This roundtable on intelligent, resilient supply chains was sponsored by Neo4J.