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o9 takeaways from Gartner Barcelona 2024

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Published: Reading time: 10 min
Stijn-Pieter van Houten SVP of Consumer Products and Knowledge Innovation Lead, o9
Stijn-Pieter van HoutenSVP of Consumer Products and Knowledge Innovation Lead, o9
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1. Companies need to “hard target” scalable, high-impact use cases for GenAI

2. Supply chains should drive business success, not just support it.

3. To increase the success rate of planning transformations, focus on simplicity and change management.

4. Digitally collaborating with strategic suppliers drives win-win outcomes

5. Companies need to “build in” sustainability into their DNA


The buzz was palpable at this year’s Gartner Supply Chain Symposium in Barcelona.

It was one of my most memorable Gartner experiences yet. Speakers from three of our clients, PepsiCo and a unique combination of Marelli and IVECO, gave presentations about our planning transformations with them. We set up a booth, got to speak with hundreds of attendees and speakers, and enjoyed thought leadership sessions.

As we exchanged notes between sessions, it was clear that specific themes were front and center, so I compiled them into one list.

Here are our team’s top takeaways from this year’s Gartner event in Barcelona.

1. Companies need to “hard target” scalable, high-impact use cases for GenAI

As anticipated, the buzz around AI and GenAI was center stage at this year's Gartner Supply Chain Symposium.

Supply chain leaders are taking the technology more seriously than ever, with Gartner's research finding that “almost 60% of supply chain leaders plan to implement GenAI next year.”

They’re also spending significant capital on the technology, with many supply chain functions investing up to 6% of their budget on GenAI initiatives.

Still, the Gartner analysts were keen to point out that we are at the peak of the GenAI hype cycle.

Will it live up to the hype?

According to analysts, the results will depend on how well companies can "hard target" scalable, high-impact use cases that support key business initiatives, establish a realistic timeline for deploying the technology, and build support amongst their stakeholders and teams to adopt it fully.

Through the day’s presentations, many companies shared the use cases they’ve targeted and the business value they’re realizing:

Here are the ones I can recall from my notes:

  • Reduced time for product quality reviews from nearly a year to about two hours 
  • Streamlined data roll-ups and meetings with a Gen AI-driven IBP assistant
  • Reduced staff needed for backorder fulfillment from four or even five full-time persons to one person working one hour daily
  • Reduced fulfillment times
  • Improved overall quality of planning and decision-making speed and quality
  • Improved user interaction with NLP capabilities, leading to improved adoption rates and overall user experience of complex data analysis software
  • Generated quick and accurate reports that improved decision-making and compliance with sustainability goals

From o9’s perspective, we believe the most impactful use case is transforming “tribal”  knowledge—business-critical information passed through emails, phone calls, and conversations—into digital assets that can influence decision-making at scale.

Several clients have adopted the new GenAI feature on the o9 platform. This capability improves each planning cycle by comparing planned outcomes to actual results and integrating external insights—often called "tribal knowledge"—into the platform.

This process transforms these insights into digital formats, progressively improving the platform's ability to quickly and intelligently explain deviations between planned and actual outcomes, reducing the manual effort required.

Another application of this technology is digitizing an expert planner’s strategies. For instance, when there's an unexpected increase in demand, the planner's approach to managing this scenario can be converted into a digital "recipe." The strategy is now accessible to all planners.

These are exciting times for AI and GenAI.

Still, supply chain leaders must be thoughtful about where they deploy the technology, ensuring it generates maximum impact from a compelling use case that their “users can see with their own eyes.”

After all, technology requires people to use it.

Speaking of seeing it with your own eyes, you can watch a demo of o9’s GenAI capability here (the demo starts at 13:16).

2. Supply chains should drive business success, not just support it.

When supply chains function as simply “cost centers,” they enter a state of “Drift” that leads to a “do-it-all” approach.

The ideal state is “Drive,” where the supply chain drives business success and does not just support it. One Gartner analyst called it “a state where the supply chain controls its priorities and destiny."

According to the analyst, this “Drive” state can only be achieved when supply chain leaders focus on several core principles:

  • 1.

    Define your “yes” and know your “no”
    Supply chain leaders must “define for your teams and your internal partners the landscape of business segments in which you will and will not operate.” He recommended that leaders “create clear expectations about what you’re going to deliver value and identify the associated risks” and then “work out your approach for each commercial segment, product group, or physical network.” He explained that, for some segments, companies “may primarily focus on cost reduction with less emphasis on the other forms of value.” However, for other segments, you may be “sustainability-focused.”
  • 2.

    Enable your “yes” with a multi-role supply chain organization
    “To deliver multiple forms of value, you need an organization populated by motivated employees with authority to drive the supply chain forward,” said the presenter. “But beware of old models of thinking,” he warned. “Delivering multiple forms of value no longer means choosing between centralization or decentralization.”
  • 3.

    Do your “yes” well with multi-value plays
    “Supply chains that deliver and identify opportunities where one initiative creates multiple forms of value operate on a principle of multi-value plays,” he said. Target was cited as an example, explaining how it repurposed ten stores to be distribution centers, reducing emissions and improving customer experience with a 150% increase in next-day deliveries and more than $30M in savings.

3. To increase the success rate of planning transformations, focus on simplicity and change management.

Digital transformation is still a priority for boardrooms, but the success rate needs to increase.

"Over half of the board of directors surveyed recently indicated that their top strategic business objective is digital technology in the next year,” said one Gartner analyst.

However, another speaker pointed out that these initiatives' failure rates are high.

“Our research shows us only 54% of AI investments make it from pilot to production,” said the analyst. “You could almost flip a coin to determine your chances of success.”

The analyst clarified that the high failure rate is rarely caused by technology, saying, “At the core of this coin flip isn't a technology problem, it's a people problem.”

It’s a people problem because “these technologies require people to use them effectively to deliver the return on investment.”

Most digital transformations fail due to two factors, and both are “people problems”:

  • 1.

    Too much complexity
  • 2.

    Ineffective change management

On the complexity side, transformations often begin with high expectations but encounter stumbling blocks, leading to phases being divided and delayed, with essential components being postponed or simplified “just to complete something.”

One speaker vividly described the process: “As the team shifts the focus yet again towards a reduced set of deliverables, ‘building our future together,’ now sounds more like, ‘let's just get this thing done.’"

Companies need to embrace a more deliberate and user-focused approach to transformation, which the speakers called "design simplicity."

This approach involves "designing transformations to be easy to understand and execute" and should be "deliberate and intentional because you can't achieve simplicity by accident.”

Another speaker explained that effective change management in digital transformation ultimately boils down to clear roles and responsibilities. “Digital leaders are more likely to have clear roles, responsibilities, and actions when it comes to driving change management,” she said.

“They set up change management teams and ensure they have the necessary resources to sustain change."

During my time at o9, I’ve seen this play out repeatedly with our clients. The companies that take a thoughtful, deliberate approach to transformation are the ones that make change last.

PepsiCo comes to mind. During its Integrated Business Planning (IBP) transformation with us, PepsiCo even set up a Digital Academy for its users, who could earn badges and become experts in IBP.

4. Digitally collaborating with strategic suppliers drives win-win outcomes

“Organizations that integrate supplier data into their decision-making processes are twice as likely to achieve high performance.”

Clearly, collaborating with suppliers is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a need-to-have, and global enterprises have taken notice.

"88% percent of organizations indicate that they see an increased importance of supplier collaboration, especially in the last three years,” said one analyst.

They explained that leveraging technology is crucial for effective supplier collaboration. According to them, it can help automate decisions, build connectivity between organizations and suppliers, and provide real-time visibility. For example, Lenovo's supplier collaboration platform integrates tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3 suppliers, enabling risk management and scenario planning​​.

Another great example that one speaker cited was another o9 client, the global OEM Toyota.

Toyota is leveraging the o9 platform to undergo a Digital Supplier Collaboration transformation to enable what it calls “Digital Connectivity” and is excelling in several areas.

Here’s what I can recall from my notes.

  • Toyota maintains open communication channels, encouraging suppliers to share ideas and innovations.
  • Unlike companies that switch suppliers frequently for marginal cost benefits, it fosters long-term partnerships, ensuring stability and consistent quality.
  • When issues arise, it collaborates with suppliers to identify the root cause and develop solutions jointly, avoiding the blame game.
  • It involves suppliers in its growth plans and works together to manage risks, leveraging suppliers' geographical diversity to mitigate potential disruptions.

Toyota is setting the standard for supplier collaboration in an increasingly complex and interdependent supplier network.

As global supply chains continue destabilizing due to geopolitical tensions and climate-related disruptions, more and more automotive companies will enable this capability, as the risks and opportunities are too significant.

I’m also proud to see one of our biggest automotive clients being referenced at Gartner. They also spoke at our recent online event, aim10x digital. You can watch their session here.

5. Companies need to “build in” sustainability into their DNA

Climate-related disruptions have become an undeniable threat to business operations globally, causing CEOs to prioritize resilience and agility.

At the same time, more ESG regulations are coming in the US and Europe. Soon, companies will be required to report on their scope-3 emissions.

One analyst said we’re shifting from a “voluntary to a regulatory world,” and these shifts are driving some forward-thinking companies to “build in” sustainability into their core rather than “bolting it on.”

What does building sustainability into the DNA of global enterprises look like?

It’s different for every company. Some have included sustainability experts in their risk councils. Others have built carbon-impact visibility into their logistics workflows, which has reduced air freight costs and emissions.

But I think one speaker said it best: “Sustainability needs to be part of every single supply chain decision—no matter how mundane it might seem.”

This is becoming a reality as companies like PepsiCo, another o9 client, take the lead.

Angelika Kipor, PepsiCo’s IBP Lead and Senior Vice President of Strategy and Transformation, hosted a session highlighting how PepsiCo integrates sustainability and ESG metrics into its Integrated Business Planning process.

By embedding these metrics into the decision-making process, the company can take actions that achieve its business objectives and advance its sustainability commitments.

She explained how, in addition to activities like demand-and-supply reconciliation, the teams can now perform a “sustainability KPI” reconciliation to see “what will be the impact of the decisions you're making today on your sustainability targets going forward?”

What excites me is seeing how these shifts are starting to influence even the smaller, everyday decisions companies make about their supply chains.

It’s a sign of the times and a move in the right direction.

Those were our takeaways from this year's Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo in Barcelona.

I’m interested to hear what yours were. You can always reach out to me on LinkedIn.

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NEW: aim10x On Tour

This year, o9 is hosting a series of 12 in-person events at 12 major global hubs for forward-thinking supply chain and IT professionals. Explore a city near you and request to join today.

About the author

Stijn-Pieter van Houten SVP of Consumer Products and Knowledge Innovation Lead, o9

Stijn-Pieter van Houten

SVP of Consumer Products and Knowledge Innovation Lead, o9

With over 20 years of experience in supply chain management, strategy, and operations, Dr. Stijn-Pieter (SP) is a global leader and innovator in the field of next-generation planning solutions for the manufacturing industry. He holds a PhD in computer simulation and mathematical models from Delft University of Technology and has completed executive education programs at Berkeley, Stanford, and Cranfield.


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