perspectives

Mapping the supply chain. Well, kind of…

I love maps. Why? Because they perfectly combine at least four of my passions. And yes, one at least refers to the supply chain.

Four reasons why maps are great

  1. They represent highly elaborate cultural techniques that evolved over centuries;
  2. Maps are able to convey an incredible amount of data adjusted to the need of the reader.
  3. As they depict the real world, maps even provide some kind of ‘texture’ to supply chains.
  4. They are beautiful. The most beautiful ones of them are even pieces of art.

Reason 3 is reason enough to make maps the topic for my first contribution in this forum.

When I heard that AEB will start a blog about supply chains, global trade and IT, I was hoping that they would also ask me to become one of their bloggers. And if they were to, I already knew then that my first contribution would focus on maps. 

Well, here we go. And as a little jump start, here are three of my most fascinating resources that really demonstrate the potential, the power, and the beauty of maps.

1. A crazy one to start with: birds vs. airplanes

If you sometimes ask yourself why these angry birds are so aggressive – just take a look at this map. It illustrates all recorded incidents up in the air – when planes hit birds… 

There are two really awesome things I love about this one (apart from the strange object of the visualization itself): One is the ‘hexacomb’ style, and the other is the great way of showing a more detailed view with additional data once you zoom in closer. Just take a look with a bird’s eye (but be careful ;-))

2. Stephan Huber World Atlas: sometimes fiction conveys truth much better than reality can

Looks like the ATLAS of elementary school days. But it is way more elementary: Stephan Huber: WELTATLAS (German edition), Munich 2015.

A crazy guy – and a great artist: Stephan Huber is very well known for his fictive maps. His work and craft is also very symbolic because he uses old printed maps and cuts out all the things – words and graphics – he likes. 

Than he digitizes this material and rearranges the fragments to form his hilarious and mind-boggling new worlds… Just jump into ‘Alte Welt – Neue Welt’ (= Old World – New World).

3. What if the SCM software landscape was mapped like a subway?

Finally (for today), a more allegorical use for the power of mapping – and with a more direct link to the topic of the blog: Dutch Media enthusiast Martijn Lofvers has developed a concept of presenting the capabilities of IT providers in the area of supply chain management – and he takes “area” quite literally – in the form of a virtual subway network. 

The latest version of his ‘SCM Supply Chain Metropolitan IT SUBWAY MAP’ has just been released – and you can dive into it and explore the landmarks of supply chain management software and global trade IT. Of course you can also find AEB on this map.

Legend ;-): the 4 lines that AEB is serving.

Global Trade Management (petrol line), Shipment & Transport Execution Platforms (light brown), Supply Chain Visibility (green) and Warehouse Management Systems (dark red). AEB therefore connects the areas of trade and exports with execution. Wanna take a ride? Sign-up to our newsletter. 

So ‘far’ for today. Wanna go further?

Any comments? Any remarks? Any maps you love? I’m happy to exchange with you on LinkedIn or XING.