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Data Integration what you can learn from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

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I have to admit it I am a Boeing commercial plane nut. I love their aircraft. Over the years I have flown on the entire line of Boeing commercial aircraft – 707, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, and the 777. I have not yet flown the 787 Dreamliner but can’t wait. My boys recently bought me a sticker – “If It’s not Boeing I’m not Going”. That just about sums it up! For those who must know I don’t like Airbus planes – it’s an incident story. I do fly them when forced to, but if a Boeing aircraft is available on the same route that’s my first choice by a long shot. So I have followed the development of the 787 over the years with a lot of interest.

It’s well know that Boeing turned design and manufacturing on it’s ear with the 787, but less is know about how they redesigned the supply chain for the 787. What has struck me the most is Boeing expanded on some things they started with the 777. What Boeing did with the 777 programme was to pioneer the idea of cross functional teams to design and build critical systems. With the 787 program they took this to an altogether new level by including supply chain partners in the design build process. In hindsight, it seems obvious but when Boeing started it was fraught with danger and pitfalls, The chourus of nay sayers was loud.

Two key components of the strategy are worth looking at from a data integration perspective.

1. Establish a shared risk model between partners.

2. Establish a highly coordinated set of processes to ensure on time delivery of all assemblies.

The first point would probably seem obvious to any MBA student but in reality takes a huge amount of internal discipline to execute. It begins by the development of a shared vision and an understanding of the inter relatedness of the discrete functions of a business. Business processes are not silos unto themselves and shouldn’t be looked at that way. The pieces in a well oiled business fit together, work seamlessly and overlap. So the question I ask is why is data integration not looked at this way ? In most companies data integration is looked at in silos without regard for any cross operational functionality. Isn’t a purchase order the same thing regardless of how it comes into an enterprise ? So why does an EDI 850 get treated like some sort complex affair and a web store order, in the same business, needs some sort of special custom built program to be created. The result, two separate technological platforms to do the exact same thing.

By establishing a shared risk model that links the IT (technology) to the business side of things you start to eliminate this silo perspective. People now start to see the overlaps. This takes effort and effort takes energy. Poor processes sap that energy. So this leads me to number 2. Establish coordinated processes.

I have been into so many organizations where the right hand has no clue what the left hand is doing so when I see it, it no longer surprises me. One looks upon the other as dumb and uninformed and the other looks back and says the same thing. It’s not my responsibility, I don’t know. I don’t care. Great for business.

This type of attitude is poison. What is more serious however is that it is incredibly costly to the organization. In an earlier blog article I talked about the integration game. The integration game allows a company to step through the flow of data within an organization for a particular process. The game is a real eye opener as it not only shows the inter relatedness of processes but the touch points that go beyond silos. The cross-silo touch points speak loud and clear for the need to establish streamlined coordinated processes.

So these two points that Boeing in their 777 and 787 programs refined should be front and center in any company when it comes to data integration strategies.

If you are grappling with single silo approaches in your organization we have some resources to help you.


 

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