A Properly Overhauled Visa Program Will Benefit Supply Chains

In yesterday’s post, we pointed out that a properly overhauled end-to-end visa program would be much more effective in implementing President Trump’s goals than a wall or any other initiative that President Trump has to-date proposed to keep people out and make foreigners pay for his program. But we also pointed out that this would have a number of positive side effects including, but not limited to:

  • An increase in STEM capability
  • An increase in American jobs
  • An increase in blue-collar and white-collar salaries

In today’s post, we’re going to focus mainly on the first benefit, as this is not just an American centric benefit, and the one that will most benefit the supply chain.

Supply chains are getting longer and more complex, product life-cycles are getting shorter, service requirements more varied, and supply chain pirates are getting much, much more sophisticated and capable of subverting all of the advanced tracking and monitoring technology that you can bring to bear.

As a result, you need smarter mathematicians to model the supply chain, smarter engineers to keep up with the shorter life-cycles (and get it right), smarter business and linguistic graduates to figure out how to deliver varied service requirements globally, and smarter techs to increase security to keep your products, and your supply chain, safe. Not a hundred thousand additional low-end programmers writing essentially the same old code, maintaining the same old installed systems, and doing other tasks that can be done by any run-of-the-mill programmer and even outsourced.

If the visa program is revamped, only these smarter mathematicians, smarter engineers, smarter business and linguistic professionals, and smarter technologists will get the visas. That will not only benefit the US, but the US-centric supply chains that effectively run most global supply chains.

Revamping the Visa programs will not only force IT outsourcers to think smarter and go global, but benefit supply chains as a whole.

Forget the Wall, Mr. Trump; An End-to-Edd Visa Program Overhaul will be MUCH more effective!

You’ll accomplish three of your goals simultaneously:

  • Keep People Out
  • Make Foreigners Pay for Your Programs
  • Make it easier to deport people

Let’s take this one-by-one.

1. Keep People Out

If you make it so that the only way in to the country for any extended period of time, for any reason other than vacation, or from any country that is currently high risk, especially where there is no appropriate trade program in place, is a visa, then the majority of people will be kept out.

2. Make Foreigners Pay for Your Programs

If you introduce more visas, with more requirements, and cost-based processing fees, foreigners will end up paying for your programs.

3. Make it easier to deport people

If you make it so that deportation is automatic for anyone without a visa, provided you make it so that everyone who should have a visa can get one, including people who are already in the US, possibly illegally but who should be given the chance to be made legal, then, after a reasonable grace period, you’d face little opposition to automatic deportation.

But these are not the only benefits you’d see from an overhauled Visa program.

You’ll also see:

  • An increase in STEM capability
  • An increase in American jobs
  • An increase in blue-collar and white-collar salaries

An increase in STEM capability

If the H1-B Visa program is properly overhauled, as suggested by Vinnie Mirchandani over on deal architect, then instead of getting tens of thousands of displaced Indian programmers, who likely only have a Bachelors and a few years of experience, you will get Masters and PhDs with advanced education and experience and true innovation capability — especially if you resurrect Senator Cruz’s proposal to make the minimum salary of a H1-B $110,000 a year. No one’s going to pay the equivalent of a $50,000 a year (at best) graduate $110,000 — and if they have to pay above market for a programmer, they’re going to hire an American first (which will be much cheaper than importing a $110,000 outsourced worker) — but for a real genius in physics, chemistry, bio-tech, engineering, that will be cheap. Especially since there will actually be H1-B visas available as they will no longer be sucked up in their entirety by Indian outsourcing firms.

An increase in American jobs

As indicated above, just fixing the H1-B program will increase American jobs as it will deter bringing people in that can effectively be used as indentured servants at cheap wages. But, better yet, introduce more visa categories, requirements, and fees for hiring non-Americans and, presto, you’ll do more for American jobs than lowering taxes (which never stay down anyway), building walls to keep people out, or pushing “buy American” policies. After all, your average constituent at the end of the day is lazy and greedy — if it’s easier and cheaper to hire an American than a non-American, then unless that non-American truly brings unparalleled value to the company (and, indirectly, the country). they are going to hire American.

An increase in blue and white collar salaries

The majority of your voters are in the middle class, working decent paying factory jobs (which will now be more expensive to fill with Mexican and other immigrants from poorer nations) and white collar tech-based jobs (which will now be more expensive to fill with visa program candidates). As a result, the best Americans will be in sought after, demand bigger salaries, and, guess what, owe it all to you. Going back to my comment that your voters are greedy (as the dollar comes first in America), this will only help you as they won’t care about party at election time, only the one President that fattened their pay cheque while increasing their job security.

So, Mr. Trump, forget that Wall and overhaul those Visa programs. It’s about time someone did.

Can John Oliver educate President Trump on the Basics of Supply and Demand?

Nordstrom cut Ivanka Trump’s clothing line, President Trump tweeted about it (and how unfair it was), and it caused a media firestorm. Retail became political fast, on a decision that was, in all likelihood, not politics based. Most retailers exist on (razor) thin margins and the last thing they can afford is to carry inventory that’s not selling, which ties up money and (eventually) results in losses if the merchandise acquired is end of life.

Moreover, it doesn’t matter how well the product line may be doing overall, it matters how well it is doing for the retailer that chooses to carry it. Sometimes a product line increasing in demand flounders at a retailer for various reasons. If most of the consumers who want the product do not live near the retailer, if the retailer does not carry the hot items at the right time, or if the retailer can’t effectively promote the line, it will flounder. And the retailer, due to lack of demand through its stores, needs to make the decision to drop it before they lose money.

It’s yet another example of a statement that illustrates an apparent lack of understanding about the intricacies of supply and demand. It’s even caused people to ask:

And I can understand why. While Mr. Trump clearly understands how to do business deals, and how to build/deliver what (he believes) someone wants (or he wants), that’s deal making, not demand planning, supply monitoring, or an intricate understanding of large-scale supply and demand. Plus, his statements on unemployment rate (which is result of demand, and supply, in the job market) and how it might be anywhere from 4.9%/5.0% to 42% and GDP (as it’s impossible to have a GDP less than zero, only a trade differential) mean that he needs more education and facts on the large-scale economics that govern supply and demand.

But, as the doctor tweeted in response, who would be up to that challenge?

After watching the last episode of Last Week Tonight, he thinks he has the answer.

John Oliver.

Just look at how simplistic his Last Week Tonight show team make a number of issues in the commercials that they specifically developed for Mr. Trump.

If John Oliver can tackle these issues, why not Supply and Demand?

Why Isn’t Procurement Changing?

It’s a good question, and one the procurement dynamo recently tackled over on procurement.world. According to the dynamo, multiple factors are at play, including, but not limited to:

Big Jelly Theory

Attributed to Paul Finnerty, the ‘theory’ is that if you throw yourself and your team members, 100% mentally and physically, at the organization, in an attempt to change it, at best the organization will give a little shiver, momentarily, like a giant jelly, and then immediately return to its pre-existing shape and carry on, with business as usual, as though nothing has happened.

Irrational Actors

Attributed to Charles Jacobs, brain cience has found that human beings are anything but reasonable… When it comes to motivation, our approach is based on the view of classical economic theory that people are rational beings trying to maximize their economic return. This leads us to use the promise of rewards to motivate the behavior we need. But in direct defiance of the theory, people don’t respond reasonably or objectively to the rewards.

But are these the only reasons? There are two reasons that modern Procurement solutions aren’t adopted. The first is the people. They can resist, resist, and resist. The second is the management.

Management with Revolving Door Priorities

When Management falls for every fad of the day and changes priorities, processes, and even technologies every couple of years, employees get jaded and even more resistant to change then they’d naturally be. The Big Jelly gets bigger.

Maury the Management Moron

Sometimes the team, who want to do well and get their bonuses, will come to the conclusion they need a new solution, go through a detailed evaluation and select one they are willing to give an honest go. But, Maury the Management Moron, who will just see the price tag (and not the ROI) and correlate it with a potential negative impact on his bonus will say no. And that’s the end of the Procurement progression.

So, when trying to figure out a way around the conundrum, you have to go beyond just people and look at roles and how the values change as the role changes. And take that into consideration when applying your economic theory. (And, sometimes, wait for Maury to be shown the door.)

Visybl: Asset Tracking for the Modern Supply Chain

Every company has not one, but three, supply chains. The physical, that deals with the movement of goods. The financial, that deals with the payment for goods and services rendered. And, finally, the information, that controls the flow of the goods and money by way of messages between parties. While SI, and most Supply Management blogs, focus on the optimization of the information transfer and the financial costs, if the physical chain doesn’t flow as expected, the financial costs can skyrocket and the information can disappear.

For the physical supply chain to flow smoothly, there are two requirements. One, the obvious, goods have to flow from A to B as required to meet organizational and end customer needs. Two, the resources necessary to process those goods, both in terms of people and physical assets, need to be available and accounted for. This is often overlooked. If a forklift is needed at the warehouse to unload a shipment, and all of a sudden the forklift is not there, that’s a problem. If a raw material or chemical shipment has to be inspected for purity, and all of a sudden the mass spectrometer goes missing, problem. And so on.

So, today, we’re going to discuss a company that helps you keep track of those assets necessary to keep the physical supply chain flowing in a relatively new way, but at a very low cost compared to traditional methods. Traditional methods for tracking goods in the supply chain typically revolve around RFID, which requires each good to be tagged (which is not a problem, as RFID chips cost pennies) and requires readers at each waypoint, and GPS tracking. While RFID is great for tracking movement of goods, as someone just needs to scan the pallets at each waypoint, its poor for tracking goods in a warehouse as you need readers at least every 30 feet (as the max read distance of a Gen2 tag is a mere 12 meters). And while handheld readers are cheap, high-end UHF readers can cost up to 2K, with each antennae up to $200.

GPS tracking is not a good solution for individual good tracking either. GPS tracking requires a GPS device that can upload location data through a cellular network connection. And while you can bulk buy basic GPS units these days for $10 or less, each requires its own SIM card, and while SIM cards are also cheap, cellular providers charge a hefty price for access to their networks (relatively speaking), even if you buy in bulk. You’re easily spending over $100 (or $1,000, depending on where and the resiliency and battery lifespan of the GPS unit you need) a year to track an asset, so while this is very reasonable for tracking a truck carrying $100,000 (or more) of cargo, not so much for a $5,000 workstation that you’d rather not see carried out the door. Especially if you have 100 that you’d like to track and monitor and the odds of more than a couple being carried off are low.

That’s where Visybl comes in. Using Bluetooth Low Energy technology, it has developed low cost beacons that transmit an identifier and temperature that can be picked up by modern smartphones (that support Bluetooth LE) and local wi-fi enabled cloud-nodes that continually monitor their presence. And since Bluetooth has a range that is 10 times that of Gen2 RFID, an organization can not only monitor a wider area with less units (up to a factor of 10, depending on building layout), but do so at a considerably lower cost as these bluetooth LE wi-fi nodes don’t cost much more than a high-end router (which is around $200).

Moreover, since Visybl sells asset monitoring as an integrated hardware / software service, where you can track all assets through the interface in real time and get alerted when they leave or enter an area (and if temperature goes beyond an accepted norm), the only upfront cost is the cloud nodes. By adopting low-cost technology, they provide all of the standard beacons (and replacements on failure) free. And the cost is very affordable. Pricing starts at 2.95/month/asset (beacon) for the full service with considerable discounts at the 100, 1000, and 10000 level. This not only makes monitoring of lower cost assets (such as workstations, warehouse equipment, etc.) even in the $1000 range affordable (as it would generally be in the 1% per year or less range of asset cost at high volume levels), but advantageous as a company that was on-the-ball would be able to use this to negotiate lower insurance rates as the insurers that cover supply chain and physical assets like to see asset monitoring as part of the company’s operations.

However, insurance savings are not the only ROI of the Visybl solution. There are also considerable savings associated with:

  • manpower savings in auditsyou know which assets are on your premises, and where they are within 300 feet (which is the limit of Bluetooth range), and, since most buildings will have walls, floors, etc. that limit range, within 150 feet
  • manpower savings in asset location whenever a low-use asset is needed, there is always time spent looking for it, especially in MRO – many people fail to realize how much time is lost looking for even 300 hundred assets over the course of a year — if it’s an hour per asset, that’s almost 8 weeks of lost productivity
  • un-utilized or under-utilized asset identificationif an asset never moves from the range of its primary node, and that primary node is in storage, then the asset is not being utilized and should be evaluated for sale or replacement

The web-based solution is very easy to use, allows tags with associated asset details to be bulk uploaded in a spreadsheet, and supports map-based display if you store assets across different geographic locations. Beacons and nodes can be added, configured, and re-configured as needed (if you change the position of a node or reassign the beacon to a replacement asset), and the alerts easily customized to your needs. Plus, the technology has the advantage that all beacons can be read by all nodes, so if you and your supplier, that you lend assets to for special projects, both use Visybl, you will not only be alerted when the asset leaves your premises, but when it enters the supplier’s premises — no need for RFID. (And since the beacons only transmit an id and signal, there is absolutely no privacy concerns — only Visybl and the owner of the tag know who owns the tag and what is attached to.) [Or, if an asset walks out the door and ends up near a location with a cloud node, you'll at least have an approximate location to give to the authorities and insurance company when you file your report and claim.]

Visybl also offers an API that allows the data to be pulled directly into your inventory or asset management application, and even supports Amazon echo for simple status queries. It’s a great low-cost asset monitoring solution whose value increases as more customers adopt it, and it will do great things towards pushing monitoring technology costs down across the supply chain.