In 2009 the global consulting and technology organization Accenture recognized risk management as moving beyond compliance. In 2011 they saw risk management as a source of competitive advantage. Accenture’s 2013 Global Risk Management Study understands risk management as a matter of integration and alignment of a complex web of functions including finance, operations, IT, investment, decision-making and talent. In other words risk management has expanded far beyond the traditional core disciplines on the manufacturing floor, and the key to effective risk management is the establishment of robust connectivity between these functionalities.
The 2013 White Paper on Emerging Risks in the Supply Chain, from the Supply Chain Risk Leadership Council puts a finer point on this, observing that supply chains and logistics operations are the backbone of a global economy, and that enterprises must move from “…being reactionary to being proactive and resilient, KNOWING that business will be impacted by a supply chain disruption of one form or another.” This is not news to veterans of the barcode industry. Bad barcodes were an inconvenience and a threat to customer satisfaction in the checkout line in the 1980’s; today bad barcodes kill patients at bedside dosing in hospitals and nursing homes. The risks are so much greater, and the networks of trading partners are so much broader and deeper, organizations must be much more creative and visionary in their risk identification and prevention protocols and yet still expect disruption and plan for resiliency.
Why expect disruption? Why be resilient? Because global networks will be disrupted by global events such as climate change, natural disasters, geopolitical and social unrest, financial crises at the national and regional level and increased dependence on information technology. This is further pressurized and magnifies by social media where you are tried and convicted even before learning that a mistake has been made. The impact of even a minor supply chain glitch can damage a reputation, a career and even an entire corporation in minutes.
What does all of this have to do with barcode quality? The key to understanding the importance of barcode quality is that it has moved beyond compliance. This is because barcodes are the connective tissue that holds together virtually every supply chain and everything in it, from the freight container to the pallets and right down to the individual SKU. More than that, the barcode makes it technologically possible to manage data relationships at all levels right down to the granular relationship between the patient wristband and the medications on the crash cart. Virtually any enterprise is totally dependent upon the presence and proper functioning of a barcode. Compliance has become a subset of something vastly larger, much more critical and potentially far more devastating in case of failure: risk.
Barcode quality is more important now than ever before.