Here at IndustryWeek, we get to a lot of trade shows and conferences, but even so, we can't get to all of them. One that wasn't even on our radar screens -- the High Performance Computing Users Conference -- nevertheless apparently had a fascinating discussion on the use of supercomputers by companies such as Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble to manage their supply chain operations.
The main sticking point, according to this article running in Computerworld, is that the suppliers to these big companies just don't have the time, talent and resources to run these types of high-performance computing (HPC) systems. That's despite the growing body of evidence that indicates companies that use HPC systems for product design and testing, among other things, are enjoying a significant competitive go-to-market advantage.
Suppliers concerned that Wal-Mart or other large companies might mandate the adoption of supercomputers to facilitate sharing of supply chain information can rest slightly easier, since no such plans currently are in motion (plus, many of those same suppliers are still trying to figure out how to comply with Wal-Mart's RFID mandate). However, the article notes that P&G and other large companies hope that "increasing pressures on companies to bring new products to market faster and squeeze out costs will help usher in broader use of HPC technology."
So if you haven't yet spent more than five minutes wondering about supercomputing's role within the supply chain, here's one more thing to put on your to-do list.