When I saw this piece of work by Eric Berlow and Sean Gourley of Quid who are both TED Fellows, what struck me was that by using visualisation the snapshot above had created insight from what appeared data with limited linkages. In my case what came to mind first was that, based on the various TEDx lectures, I was potentially looking at a summary of the big issues that some of the brightest minds are seeing as important in our world today. When you watch the short video below it gives a great vision of the potential power of ‘big data’ and visualisation to give new insight, in this case based on a pile of transcripts from lectures given.
If we now take this vision and transpose it into the world of contract and commercial management, it certainly opens up new opportunities. At the most radical end should we do away with improvement programmes that try to create ‘databases’ of contracts, assigning metadata to them in a traditional way? After all if you believe the power of this vision, then technology may overtake the need to do this. In this vision, the opportunity is only constrained by our imagination.
As I suggested in my earlier post ‘Big Data – why do we need it?‘ maybe we need to be a bit more focused with our vision in the short term. Maybe we need to demonstrate the art of the possible in relation to ‘big data’ in our professional context. If we focus in on one of the business level challenges that comes up with most organisations, ‘portolio risk’, and look at that it may help us see how we can bring the vision to bear in a way that delivers business benefit.
Most organisations have approaches to risk and its management. From experience, however, the implementation of these approaches can be eratic with some teams often seeing the risk register as a necessary evil rather than a living document. If as an organisation we were able to not only capture the basics: description; probability; impact; etc… but to properly quantify the risk, link it to the location of the various tiers of supply chain contributors, and other available but asynchronous data, then we may be able to play some ‘big data’ tunes on it.
Imagine is you could fly through the ‘risk register’ for a particular product or project overlaying the supply chain risks on a world map. It may be possible to get a different insight as to where the real risks were, such as potential logistics disruption or the impact of natural shocks.
Or imagine you could helicopter up to the portfolio level and, as in the picture above, see where the data showed the big groupings of risk were pooling across all of the products, and projects. Would this enable you as an organisation to better hedge against these risks?
These are of course a couple of obvious potential opportunities for big data in the contract management context, however, often having a vision created by someone else to look at allows new ideas and connections to be made. Being open to such ideas and best practice no matter where it comes aligned with an inquisitiveness may be all that we need as a profession to truly make steps towards a new world where commercial and contract management can add significant new value to the organisation.