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As enterprise supply chains and consumer demand chains have beome globalized, they continue to inefficiently share information “one-up/one-down”. Profound "bullwhip effects" in the chains cause managers to scramble with inventory shortages and consumers attempting to understand product recalls, especially food safety recalls. Add to this the increasing usage of personal mobile devices by managers and consumers seeking real-time information about products, materials and ingredient sources. The popularity of mobile devices with consumers is inexorably tugging at enterprise IT departments to shifting to apps and services. But both consumer and enterprise data is a proprietary asset that must be selectively shared to be efficiently shared.

About Steve Holcombe

Unless otherwise noted, all content on this company blog site is authored by Steve Holcombe as President & CEO of Pardalis, Inc. More profile information: View Steve Holcombe's profile on LinkedIn

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Microsoft Office Applications and Data Ownership

Part I of a two-part series ....

Microsoft Office Applications as Seamless Supply Chain Tools

There is systemic supply chain problem for small businesses (defined here as 1 to 10 employees in size) that reverberates throughout our global economies. It may be seen in any product or service supply chain comprised of small businesses.

  • In other words, in the 'last mile' of any and every supply chain.

Of all the product supply chains in the world the U.S. beef livestock and meat products' industry is arguably the most challenging. There are approximately 110 million cattle in the U.S. and Canadian beef supply chain. Each year, about 44 million animals are slaughtered. In the U.S. there are approximately 1 million beef cattle operations the vast majority of which are small farms and family-owned operations commonly using Microsoft Office Excel for electronically storing and managing their livestock data.

Practically none of that data is shared, and even when it is shared it's in the form of difficult to trace and authenticate paperwork, faxes, e-mails and phone calls.

One reason is that there has heretofore been no 'chain of custody' SaaS designed for small businesses. Not only that but neither Microsoft Excel nor any other components of the Microsoft Office Applications (like Outlook or Word) have yet to be designed to be supply chain traceability and authentication solutions for small businesses.

Other reasons have to do with common fear factors. Farmers and ranchers constantly wrestle with convergent 'data ownership' issues related to genetics, pharmaceuticals, food safety, traceability, authentication, government regulation, product marketability, health records, and information producer confidentiality.

  • Why provide ammunition to a competitor?
  • Why let the government (i.e., the USDA, FDA, IRS, etc.) know how many cattle you - as a farmer - really own?
  • And why do so especially if you - as a farmer - don't see an increase on your return on investment (ROI)?

So, the small businesses of de-centralized U.S. agri-food supply chains are not providing customers or regulators with traceable, pedigree data about their crops and livestock.

  • The result? Continuing U.S. food safety crises. Mad cow prions, tainted spinach, hamburger recalls, etc.

And you don't have to be guilty, either, to be ensnared. The 2008 tomato recalls found the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wrongly fingering the tomato industry for salmonella poisonings. That went on for weeks.

  • What if small business users of Microsoft Office Applications could be seamlessly linked to the large and mid-sized enterprises already using ERP, CRM, SCM and other federated supply chain solutions?
  • For example, what if a metadata service layer could transform Microsoft Excel into a supply chain solution for increasing ROI for small farmers who could then be paid for both their cash crop and the pedigree data identifying the history of their cash crop?
  • And what if that metadata service layer also directly addressed the ‘data ownership’ fears prevalent among U.S. farmers that their data will be wrongly used by regulators or unfairly exploited by competitors?

Pardalis’ Metadata Service Platform

Pardalis’ metadata service platform helps draw small businesses into the emerging ‘Cloud’. With Microsoft technology (Windows server, SQL server, .Net, Excel-like UI), Pardalis has engineered a metadata SaaS platform for small business end-users to granularly author, register and control immutable data objects. Pardalis' business rules advance the capabilities of a relational database (i.e., SQL) toward an emerging, object-oriented Cloud. But the end-users merely see it as an affordable service for ‘banking’, porting and controlling access to their data products using a SaaS-anized Excel-like user-interface.

Early Market Validation

Pardalis’ platform is being deployed by CalfAID, a USDA process verified RFID cattle tracking program using ISO 9000 series standards for documented quality management systems. CalfAID is owned by the small farmers comprising the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association, and administered by North Dakota State University for:

  • Linking small beef producers, feedlots, processors and restaurants with consumers,
  • Bringing ultra-high frequency, RFID tags to commercial viability,
  • Protecting livestock producers, food system industries, veterinary health, and consumer health from accidental or intentional disease outbreaks, and
  • Overcoming the ‘scary picture’ of RFID tracking by empowering small farmers with direct, granular, data portability control over their identities and pedigree data.

The Value of Microsoft Office Applications As Seamless Supply Chain Tools

The vertical value of pedigree data gathered from agri-food supply chains, using Microsoft Office Applications communicating through a Pardalis metadata service layer, can now be monetized:

  • Consumers retrieving deep search results (permission being granted by a data owner)  to determine food history, quality and safety,
  • Retailers promoting consumer loyalty with pedigree-driven purchase orders directly communicated back through the metadata service layer to small business farmers,
  • Farmers discovering a new profit center - pedigree data about their cash crops,
  • RFID product vendors selling outside of federated supply chains and into the ’last mile’, and
  • Regulators receiving more and better data for rapidly responding to food health crises.

Horizontally Monetizing SaaS in the Cloud with Data Ownership

Challenges related to data chain of custody are not limited to agri-food. There are approximately 500 million world-wide end-users of Microsoft Office Applications. So, what would be the definition of 'data ownership' that might horizontally pull these end-users into SaaS-anized versions of their Office Applications residing in the Cloud?

Empower the end-users with SaaS tools for tracing access to their data objects one-step, two steps, three-steps, etc. after the initial share. They'll know what data ownership is when they see it. The result? The Cloud becomes inflated sooner rather than later with traceable, trustworthy, authenticated data that would otherwise go missing from the invisible hand of informational capitalism.

  • That is, sail past the siren-songs of abstract, privacy laws that small businesses don't trust anyway, and capacitate those small business with real, hands-on functionalities that they viscerally recognize as data ownership.

And then watch those small businesses grease the wheels for monetizing SaaS in the Cloud.

Go to Part II ...

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