Posted by: qmaxim | June 24, 2013

Falling importance of quality?

Some time ago, CEO of American society for Quality (ASQ) posed couple of thought provoking questions in his   blog  post on future of quality and that of  quality professionals.

First  question was about  the  challenges faced by quality community  and   second one is about advancing  state of quality for the benefit of society. A. Tiwari’s  responded in this blog post.

My response has a slightly different perspective. I have  tried to answer  by linking these questions  to some of the irreversible  trends happening in the business world today.

          Today’s big innovation & high quality becomes the commodity of market place of tomorrow. Pace of innovation has accelerated.  

          Quality levels in general  have been continuously improving no doubt due to contribution of quality Gurus (such as Juran & Deming) but also due to contribution of ordinary quality folks.  Consequently, it is almost impossible for a single company to hold on to quality edge for  too long.

          Prof  Noriaki Kano’s famous customer satisfaction model is more relevant as ever. Quality attribute which delighted  customer  yesterday becomes the must have attribute of today. Not aligning with changing customer  expectations   could lead to customer dissatisfaction & consequent loss of business.

          Due to rapid advances in technology, speed of processes have increased great deal and level of manning required for performing the same task is coming down rapidly. On the other hand, skill levels required to run the show has been constantly going up.

          Though there is some talk about reversal  of the trend,  global supply chains have come here to stay. Work goes to the most efficient and economical.

To survive and thrive in this challenging  environment everyone has to change his behaviour & adapt. Quality professionals are no exception.

One of the most important foundations of  Quality is  continuous improvement. To do improvement availability of  good quality data is a must. Numerous tools & methodologies are  available for doing data analysis & improvement. Though the number of available   quality tools / have not increased much in the recent years, amount, sources & speed of availability of  data  has increased exponentially.  This data deluge is the called big data.

To facilitate improvements projects under these circumstances, use different types of technologies/ techniques have to used to extract  this data.
Some examples of new technologies – 

          use of NoSQL  instead of SQL to query unstructured data which is not in the traditional data table  format.  

          Data mining techniques like  Machine learning which relay on computer programs themselves to find patterns in data.

          New software frameworks such as Hadoop which can be used for processing enormous amounts of  data  quickly and cheaply.

          Use of data from social media (such as Twitter ,Facebook, blogs, news-feeds) for understanding customer satisfaction and company reputation.  

          Another emerging trend particularly in manufacturing is – internet of things  whereby machines, products  exchange information in real time.

 Running improvement projects using data from  techniques  such as these  can lead to significant  advancement of quality . Of course, same set of  quality tools and methodologies can be used for improvement projects.

In summary, by changing ones   behavior to the rapidly changing  business environment one can face the challenges head on and succeed. Using modern technologies can lead to advancing state of quality.

 

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