Celebrating Satellites’ Role in Modern Procurement Planning

Celebrating Satellites’ Role in Modern Procurement Planning

You might not see them, but they’re up there. They are a vital foundation of our modern connected world, with literally thousands of them flying above our heads each day. What are we talking about? Satellites.

July the 10th marks the anniversary of the very first man-made satellite to reach for the sky. Launched in 1962, Telstar 1 was a daring feat of modern engineering. This pioneering technology was driven by a global collaboration between leading telecommunications companies and US space agency NASA. It was powered by a measly 14 watts of electricity, probably about a fifth of the power consumed by your laptop.

The first satellite, Telstar 1, was launched on 10th July, 1962

Telstar 1 might have been the pioneer, but since its success these orbital installations have grown to provide the backbone of our connected modern world. Thinking about logging into your Procurehere account or calling a client across the world? Satellites have a lot to do with why you can. Here’s how those unseen stars are more vital to your procurement planning than you might think.

International telephone calls

International telephone calls represent a key area of our modern procurement activities which are widely dependent on the role of satellites. A quick call to a supplier in Europe is just a speed dial away, and that’s partly down to the power of satellites.

While international communications today are increasingly being connected through vital undersea cables, 56 years on from the launch of Telstar 1, satellites continue to play a big role in global telecommunications. If some catastrophic event was to suddenly see those satellites dropping from our sky, apart from a notable uptick in the sale of heavy-duty umbrellas, we’d see a significant impact on our global ability to communicate. Undersea cables would suddenly be responsible for the full flow of communication traffic around the world, meaning a significant failing of international calls.

GPS tracking

The ability to track our supplies in transit is an increasingly important element of strategic procurement planning. Knowing when your goods arrive, and where they currently are, helps you understand how your supply chain might impact your wider business needs and operational timelines.

GPS systems are entirely reliant on satellite tracking, so without satellites, it’s back to manual tracking and laborious processes. No satellites? No Google maps, no ‘find nearest restaurant’, and certainly no instant global insight or real-time tracking of your supply chains.

Understanding the weather

It’s strange to think that something we now check on our phones on the way to work once offered such a mystery. It’s also easy to overlook how important our understanding of the weather can be to the job of procurement professionals.

Satellites are the foundation of our modern weather prediction models. That means our ability to predict how future weather events might impact everything from procuring the right supplies for a big building project, to just what supplies we might need to keep operating in that weather.

It’s estimated that bad weather costs the global economy as much as US$200 billion a year over the past decade. Now imagine the economic impact to business if we couldn’t predict that weather to some degree?

Counting time

Our modern civilisation is built on time, from sent notifications on emails to date stamps on data packages. You might think time is universal, but it takes a lot of effort to make that so. GPS forms a core part of how we accurately measure and maintain appropriately synchronised times across the globe. Without satellites, we’d find it a whole lot harder to keep that time consistent.

The truth is a second’s slip of time is pretty good going for a human. Nobody is going to be upset with you being a few seconds late for a meeting. It’s a whole different proposition for computing. If our GPS suddenly failed we’d be faced with a situation where the essential data centres and communication networks around the world slowly began to run out of sync, as this happened, information sharing and data services would be at risk.

Without accurate and consistent time sharing, you can almost certainly wave goodbye to the cloud. That means no file sharing, no backed up iPhone photos, and most importantly – no access to the e-procurement benefits of Procurehere. All that opportunity lost to the slip of a fraction of a second.

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