As the first day of our aim10x Global event comes to a close, we wanted to share some of the highlights of today’s sessions.
One topic that was talked about in almost every session was the fact that the current COVID crisis and the many disruptions it created – on the demand side, on the supply side, on people – is turning out to be the most powerful catalyst for digitalization. The need for better end-to-end visibility, from customer to the last supplier, is essential to really understand what is happening. This also needs to be close to real-time, waiting for the next scheduled planning meeting it is no longer an option. Chakri Gottemukkala, CEO and co-founder of o9, explained how this volatility was pressing executives to move faster and start acting like the digital-first companies – the amazon, Uber, etc. of the world. He talked about how migrating to these new Digital Operating Models required new capabilities – what he called a Digital Brain. Central to a Digital Brain is the ability to leverage data, lots more data than is being used today, and to use it for better, more accurate, more timely data-driven decisions. Such a digital platform also needs to break down the silos of decision-making in organization – replacing the many different tools used and providing one common view of the business, aligning all stakeholders. He went on to describe some of the key use cases that he sees companies deploying right now.
Many of these points were echoed in the presentation from Tim Payne (Gartner) on the future of decision making. He described the key components of integrated planning: Data, the association of data (when the data is interconnected), and finally, the predictive and prescriptive analytics capabilities. When describing the journey towards the digitalization of integrated planning, Tim presented the 7 key dimensions to be considered for building a “digital supply chain twin”, another key concept that was widely mentioned throughout the day. He also shared a very useful framework to help assess the level of digital integrated planning maturity against the 7 key dimensions.
Before diving into the many digital transformation use cases next on the agenda, it was time for an outside perspective. Hubert Joly, the former CEO of Best Buy and now senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, shared how he was able to turn the company around. He outlined the importance of leading with purpose and humanity. Leaning on the lessons he has captured in his new book, Hubert unveiled his personal philosophy to achieving extraordinary outcomes for all stakeholders by putting purpose and people first. Quite an inspiration!
What followed were speakers from a total of 12 companies (PepsiCo, Nestlé, Philips, Henkel, Schaeffler, Bayer, Wallmart, ExxonMobil, Lands’ End, Google, Intuitive Surgical, Crocs), sharing different aspects of their digital planning and decision-making journeys. All reinforced the view that the current pandemic very clearly exposed the lack of end-to-end visibility, although the topic was less logistics visibility (think Suez Canal) than the ability to have a complete and up-to-date picture of the supply chain, demand and supply included, to (1) better understand where the issues and opportunities are and (2) better react. This seemed to emerge as the definition of what a modern supply chain control tower is.
Another topic that was top of mind was how to better use all the data that is available, especially external, market data. There was a consensus that ML forecasting is very promising – exactly because it leverages all these demand drivers for a better demand prediction. This is not only true for consumer products but also in the B2B space, as Schaeffler (automotive supplier) demonstrated.
Besides ML forecasting, there was a sense that “gigantic amounts of data” could now be evaluated as part of the planning/IBP process, but that the old ways and tools don’t work anymore. Still a long way to go for many companies.
The topic of man vs. machine rose in several sessions, with a strong agreement that software “black boxes” don’t work because humans don’t trust them. This topic of trust was discussed, and all agreed that machine-made recommendations needed to be more “transparent” so that users could understand them. Also discussed was the split automation vs. augmentation of humans: Automation is when software takes over repetitive, data-centric activities, augmentation is about giving fully calculated scenarios for the planning team who can then decide. In both cases, humans are better off, able to focus on what they do best.
The final session, a panel led by Lora Cecere, industry analyst known to many, offered a peak at Project Zebra, an industry-wide initiative. Starting from the observation that today’s supply chain processes still tend to be inside-out and siloed, aligned by function, Project Zebra set out to re-define supply chain processes, but this time outside-in, leveraging the richness of external data, to help companies better sense and respond. The team shared the status of the work so far and ended with a call to join them to redefine supply chain processes to the new outside-in reality.
If you missed any of the sessions, they are now available on demand directly in the platform. And so are the o9 Talks, a series of short interviews with supply chain leaders.
This was just the first day. See you all tomorrow for an agenda packed with insights from another great set of speakers and panelists. And don’t forget to network using the platform and to visit our consulting and technology partners!
About Patrick Lemoine
VP Global Product Marketing at o9 Solutions, Inc.