With the coming of the Information Age, there is an opportunity to provide widespread access to information related services and capabilities only dreamed about in previous eras. This increased access to information provides an opportunity to rethink the ways that we organize, manage and control our society. The new mantra is about agility and interoperability, the brave new world of intelligent agents.Supply Chains will dramatically increase their network enabled capabilities.

 

Industrial age planning and control

Principles underlying traditional planning and control, applying to Industrial age economy are decomposition, specialization, hierarchy, optimization, de-confliction, centralized planning, and decentralized execution. Decomposition defines roles as precise as possible and divides overall activities into coherent subsets that can be mastered by existing knowledge, technologies and personnel. Specialization develops professional specialties (teams, groups, divisions, departments, agencies) that help the overall organization or enterprise to develop its mission. Hierarchical organizations focus and control the professional specialties so that they act in concert to achieve goals of larger organizations they support. Number of layers are directly related to span of control. Optimization is managed by defining decomposed roles, divided in different specializations and organized into hierarchies, industrial age organizations assume optimization of processes is easy.  Industrial age planning and control processes rely heavily on control measures in order to de-conflict different specializations within the organization. Planning became crucial in Industrial age companies. Large, complex organizations in particular depend on comprehensive plans that require considerable time to prepare and also have to be continuously monitored, adjusted and maintained.  Industrial age managers are, however, aware of the fragility of plans in the face of the harsh and dynamic operating environment. Industrial age organizations use simple adaptive control mechanisms, largely because of the limits of communication technologies, planning and control systems are inherently cyclical. The popularity of the Deming circle (plan, do, check, act) is a recognition of this cyclic process.

 

Information age planning and control

The information revolution in progress is all about the amount of information richness and reach and the quality of interactions between and among entities that are possible as advance in technology. Organizations need to develop new business models, primarily focusing on agility. Industry also recognizes the need to move from push-oriented to pull oriented processes, especially in supply chains.

Agility is a property of an individual or organization that has a synergistic combination of the following attributes: robustness, flexibility, innovativeness, adaptiveness and responsiveness. Robustness is the ability to maintain effectiveness across a range of tasks, circumstances and conditions. Flexibility is the ability to envision multiple ways of accomplishing a task and/or conceiving of different paths to an objective. Adaptiveness is inwardly focused and defines the way one does business. Innovativeness is the ability to learn about operating environments and create novel approaches to create and maintain competitive advantages. Responsiveness is the ability to react appropriately in a timely manner. Measures and/or indicants are developed and can be maintained in block-chains.

Figure 1 Dimensions Information Domain
Figure 1 Dimensions Information Domain

Figure 2 Network enabled capabilities value chain includes variables related to individual sense- making and decision-making, and the same set of variables that pertain to team, group or organizational sense-making and decision-making capabilities. Sense-making is much more than sharing information and identifying patterns. This involves generating options, predicting adversary actions and reactions and understanding the effect of particular courses of actions. Sense-making and decision synchronization are the core of  intelligent agents. Thus, intelligent agents are more than services, since they focus on the cognitive and social domain.

Figure 2 Network enabled capabilities value chain
Figure 2 Network enabled capabilities value chain

Interoperability, the ability to work together, needs to simultaneously occur at a number of levels or layers to enable entities to communicate , share information, and collaborate with one another. Interoperability must be present in the physical, information, cognitive and social domain. Interoperability can be understood as a spectrum of connectedness that ranges from unconnected, isolated entities to fully interactive, sharing enterprises. There are various degrees of interoperability. Level 0 requires limited interoperability and information sharing. The interoperability that exists is based upon requirements developed from existing organizations, processes and systems. Level 1 requires that more entities are able to share information. Level 2 requires sufficient interoperability for entities to participate in collaborate environments and processes. Level 3 requires that entities be interoperable not only in the information domain, but also in the cognitive domain, so that shared awareness can be achieved. Level 4 requires interoperability in the social domain so that actions can be dynamically self-synchronized. Moving up one level to another requires more interoperability in all three of the dimensions of the information domain.

Figure 3 Interoperability maturity
Figure 3 Interoperability maturity