Mobile Intelligence for Reporting of Supply Chain KPI’s

Rogers, H.; Pawar, K. S. and Tipi, N. (2011). Mobile Intelligence for Reporting of Supply Chain KPI’s. In: Proceedings of the 16th International Symposium on Logistics (ISL 2011) (Pawar, K. S. and Rogers, H. eds.), Rebuilding Supply Chains for a Globalised World, Centre for Concurrent Enterprise, Nottingham University Business School, pp. 190–195.



Purpose of this paper

A Supply Chain Manager is in the departure lounge at Munich airport waiting for her flight to London to discuss size curves of the latest range of sports shoes with the Retail Manager of the company’s flagship London retail store. The London Retail Manager wants to change the range profile to better reflect UK customer sizes and tastes. The SCM Manager has a printed version of last year’s size curves (showing how many of each size were shipped and sold to the UK), however, she would like to see what the latest figures for this quarter are. She simply opens the size curve application on her iPhone and calls up the figures she needs.
This kind of scenario is increasingly being played out by executives (many of whom spend very little time in the office) as they travel to meetings across the world. It is fair to say that in many cases, retrieval of the information that is required is not as easy as the above situation implies. There are many reasons for this including restrictions on data sharing/retrieval, scattering of data across formats/databases and insufficient specification by the executives of their requirements.
Mobile intelligence systems utilise mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablet computers (iPad, Playbook, etc.) as handheld workstations for users to access and analyse real time information. Mobile intelligence in a supply chain management reporting context allows users to access supply chain-related information anywhere and make quick, informed decisions. A mobile phone could offer managers more opportunities to connect and share information than for example a laptop due to the level of connection and network coverage around the world. There are many possibilities in terms of research directions when one considers the use of mobile intelligence systems as a business tool. This includes data capture (real time operational factors such as RFID, fault reporting, customer feedback and other performance data) and data reporting/retrieval. One could also investigate how new applications could be developed for these devices to make them an integral part of a company’s SCM activities. In order for product and system development projects such as these to be successful, a thorough organisational readiness assessment would need to be carried out.
We have chosen to focus on reporting and retrieval and more specifically on the issue of how existing SCM data can be presented in an executive-friendly way (i.e. aggregated, pictorial-based data) on mobile devices. Clearly owing to the screen size there are restrictions in terms of the amount of information that can be displayed at any one time.


Following a preliminary literature review, gaps regarding research into the use of mobile intelligence systems for reporting of supply chain KPIs were identified. This is not surprising, because although measuring business performance (Kaplan and Norton, 2001) and more specifically supply chain performance is a well established field (Neely, 2005; Bhagwat and Sharma, 2007;Van Weele, 2009), using mobile devices to do this is rather new. Therefore the overall aim of this research is to explore how mobile devices can be used to assist with reporting of supply chain-related performance measures.
In addition we seek to identify their preferred form of measurement output while they are on the move and link this to what can be realistically achieved on mobile devices. This last aim needs to take into account the physical restrictions presented by the small screen size and limitations to the amount of live data that can be accessed in real time. This research can show how information can be displayed and used on a mobile phone, as it can also demonstrate how businesses should aggregate-disaggregate information and make it available to be used in different formats.
The first steps in this project will be to carry out a thorough literature review – taking in not only traditional journal contributions but also technical blogs, online journals and outputs from communities of practice. This use of non-conventional literature sources is required, owing to the newness of the field.
Secondly we will carry out a needs analysis of a sample of supply chain managers to establish the kinds of information they need ‘on the move’ and in what form (heat maps, bar charts, pie charts, dashboards, etc.). We will also talk to business reporting software vendors to discuss the technical limitations, possibilities and future developments. This in turn could lead to the development of a SCM reporting-related application for mobile devices.

What is the value of the paper

We believe that this will be one of the first studies of this nature. As such, we believe that the research output has the potential to make a positive contribution to both academia and to practitioners.

Kaplan, R.S., Norton, D.P., 2001, Transforming the Balanced Scorecard from Performance Measurement to Strategic Management: Part I, American Accounting Association; Accounting Horizons, 15, 1, 87-104.
Bhagwat, R., Sharma, M.K., 2007, Performance measurement of supply chain management: A balanced scorecard approach, Computers & Industrial Engineering, 53, 43-62.
Neely, A., 2005, The evolution of performance measurement research. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 25(12), 1264-1277.
Van Weele, A, 2009, Purchasing and Supply Chain Management, Cengage Publishing, Chapter 14.

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