By Daemonite Kevin Barnes
Supply chain has been the de facto phrase to describe source to sell for a long time. Recently, the bits between source and sell have changed greatly. Consumers can not only choose from a huge variety of goods, but can customise the items to their heart’s desire. They then fully expect that item to be either swiftly delivered to their home, or for them to be able to say when and at which store they will collect it. And they also want to try before they buy with free delivery and returns!
The mesh of the digital world
A chain has a nice sequential set of links that hold it together. One break or weakness in a single link and the whole chain is compromised — if it breaks you’ll have two pieces and two extra loose ends. Life’s not quite so linear now — collaboration is key. You can join a chain halfway through and attach a link in the middle but how much use is that? The digital world is more like a mesh. In a mesh there is no single beginning and end. You can join on an edge and travel across to another edge. You can also pick a different path to someone else and journey through different parts of the mesh. You might arrive at your destination sooner than the other person — but you’ll both be there. You can add to the mesh anywhere. If it breaks there will probably be another way to get to your destination.
Technology is embracing the mesh way of thinking including, mesh networks, and service meshes. This latter methodology can help install an IT infrastructure to support the mesh world. Add an API framework like GraphQL and you’ll have a responsive and flexible integration for your applications old and new.
It’s a jazz thing
I’m a jazz fan and the other night on TV Stuart Copeland was explaining the impact of drummers in New Orleans moving to a drum kit. Before, each member of a band had a single drum and the rhythm was straightforward. Think of a marching band. One bright fellow decided to make a pedal for a bass drum which allowed him to stop marching around, sit down and use his hands to bash other instruments — tom toms , snare drums and cymbals. What did this do to the music? With the hi-tech pedal the rhythm could be a lot more complicated, (‘free’ jazz anyone?) There was a new beat in town and mesh of kit for the drummer to use.
The sequential marching band with a 1–2 beat is what we’ve become used to in our chain world. The new mesh universe means we have to play to all sorts of rhythms.