Friday, January 30, 2009

Connect the Dots - Unlimited Inventory

In a previous post, I wrote about the struggles I've had in trying to grasp some of the production concepts in my OpsMgmt class.  It's not that the idea of building something in a factory was foreign to me, but there was just something that wasn't clicking.  And I couldn't figure out what it was.

This afternoon, I came across this Hal Varian video.  Dr. Varian is the Chief Economist at Google, and a Professor of IT at Cal Berkeley.  In one of the segments, he talked about the production of "goods" in a digital economy.  His explanation of how these goods were made up of bits flipped a switch in my head.  That was it, that was the thing that had been my mental block for the last couple of weeks. I've become so ingrained with the thinking of everything being online and digitized, I've become somewhat immune to the realities of creating physical goods.  I live in a digital world, and so I've adapted my way of thinking to center around bits. And as he states below, "..there is no shortage....and there is no inventory" 

"The great thing about the current period is that component parts are all bits. That means you never run out of them. You can reproduce them, you can duplicate them, you can spread them around the world, and you can have thousands and tens of thousands of innovators combining or recombining the same component parts to create new innovation. So there’s no shortage. There are no inventory delays."

One of the things I constantly have to remind myself about the MBA program is that it's not just to make me think about my current environment.  It's to also make me think about different or unknown environments.  This is one of those areas.  I just need to keep reminding myself that these two worlds run in parallel, and finding interesting and productive ways to have them intersect is the challenge.