Optimisation Algorithms

Last week’s Economist (15 September) has a special briefing on algorithms. The 3 page article covers a range of applications for algorithms:

  1. Making sense of unstructured data (Autonomy)
  2. Routing aircraft in an optimal way (UPS)
  3. Routing calls to call centers (Convergys)
  4. Making networks more resilient to data disruptions (BT)
  5. Calculating optimal location of goods on shelves (Tesco)
  6. Looking out for potential fraudulent activity (ClearCommerce)
  7. Finding the most relevant results for an internet search (MSN, Yahoo, Google)

Algorithms are also prevalent in optimisation routines which help buyers decide the best way to award contracts to competing suppliers. Yet not only did The Economist fail to quote Michael Lamoureux, they didn’t even mention procurement. To be fair they did mention supply chain, but supply chain attracted dramatically less words than even call centers did.

To me this means one of two things:

  1. Procurement is an uninteresting dead end, compared to sales, marketing, finance and technology
  2. Procurement is still a nascent, poorly understood discipline that has yet to make its mark on the general consciousness.

Obviously I’m in this game because I believe option 2 is the case ….


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