This guest post comes to us from Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in Supply Chain Management.
Following on the success of our recent post about the Rise of the Supply Chain C.E.O, we wanted to cover the topic of the emergence of Supply Chain into a C-suite function from another angle.
That post discussed the trend of companies looking to the Supply Chain function when hiring for the most coveted role at any company: CEO. It discussed some prominent “Supply Chain CEOs” (including Apple’s Steve Cook and G.M.’s Mary Barra), and outlined the strategic advantages companies can gain from the relentless focus on customer service and mitigation of risk that Supply Chain provides. But the trend of Supply Chain’s rise to the C-suite doesn’t just mean the elevation of Supply Chain professionals into the CEO role at companies. It also means that companies are adding the Supply Chain portfolio to the executive boardroom alongside more traditional Finance, Marketing, and Information executive roles.
Enter the Chief Supply Chain Officer.
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Four days, 90+ participants and 32 amazing projects. I’d have to say our annual Hackathon held here at Kinaxis recently was a huge success! So what exactly is a Hackathon? It’s an intensive but exciting week where our product team gets to set aside their regular duties and work on their own ideas related to our RapidResponse software. From new capabilities to improving processes and efficiencies, the goal is to get creative and show what you can do.
And wow, am I ever impressed! I certainly didn’t envy the job of our eight esteemed judges who were tasked with narrowing things down to our top six finalists, and then ultimately choosing the winner.
We had a great turnout of Kinaxis employees to watch the six finalists present their projects. While I can’t go into specifics for obvious reasons, the themes included industry hot topics like sustainability, data visualization, integration, user adoption, and mobile functionality.
Incredible projects aside, what I loved most about our Hackathon week was the sense of comradery it built. Yes, there was a healthy dose of competition, but there was also a spirit of teamwork. People from across departments were helping each other out to get the projects finished within the four day deadline. Some more ambitious staff even stayed overnight!
Through it all there were fun games, delicious snacks (I’d join the development team just for those!) and tons of opportunities to get advice and feedback. We even had an awards ceremony where teams won some very enviable prizes.
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Firstly, what is a supply chain road warrior?
A supply chain road warrior works for a company that specializes in supply chain, spends many, many hours on a plane, uses lean principles when going through the security line, gets far too much satisfaction from collecting air miles and hotel points, is constantly wondering why the airlines have such antiquated software, can spot a casual traveler from a mile away, and is fixated on every situation where demand does not equal supply… or vice versa.
The focus of this blog series is to share the insights I have gained during my 15 years as a supply chain road warrior. Having spoken to many companies, peeked inside their organizations, and worked alongside them during countless supply chain initiatives, I’ve built myself a bit of a list of what it means and what it takes to be best-in-class.
Insight #1 – Your company culture
Insight #2 – Your supply chain processes
Insight #3 – Your supply chain measurements
Insight #4 – Your supply chain technology
Does being the best at a specific supply chain function — Demand Planning, Supply Planning, Inventory Planning,
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The chicken or the egg?
The supply chain process or the technology?
Supply chain process then technology?
Technology then supply chain process?
The consensus of opinion is process and technology simultaneously.
That was the unanimous response from customers at Kinexions, Kinaxis’ user and training conference. Technology is of equal consideration to process and both are required to drive transformation.
How do you implement a new supply chain process without understanding the art of the possible with technology?
Customers and speakers at Kinexions talked about turning their supply chain on its head, innovation beyond customer expectation, thinking differently, transparency, demand driven supply chains, embracing their complexity, and all learning is developmental. There was recognition that you will not benefit by trying to implement new processes without the right technology.
Supply chain is not dead, it is not dormant and it has changed significantly in the past 10 years. This was a supply chain software vendor’s conference and I do believe that the supply chain industry has finally caught up with Kinaxis. The value that Kinaxis provides is a necessity and not just a nice to have. I have to admit that I am biased. I was a Kinaxis customer, I worked for them, and I will always be an evangelist. The concurrent planning, in-memory computing, simulation and speed will cause you to stop, think, rip up your old processes and drive exciting and necessary change in your supply chain.
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I recently took a trip to my local big box electronics store, and saw a 3D printer on display. I asked what they were printing, and the response was “plastic components”, which were being sold in the store. The salesperson was busy, so I did not have the chance to find out exactly what those plastic components were, but I thought, wow, they can make parts for sale right there in the store. Retail is changing for sure. I then decided to do a little more checking on 3D printers when I got home. I learned about biofabrication, a recently created word that means the convergence between technology and medicine, to print items to be used in the human body. Living cells are used as the “printer ink”. Visions of the Terminator came to mind. I also discovered, from an article the Guardian that the U. S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first 3D printed drug, called Spritam (levetiracetam). It controls seizures coming from epilepsy. The drug manufacturer, Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, uses 3D printing to create a more porous pill. This means the pill dissolves more quickly with liquid, making it much easier for the patient to swallow higher doses.
3D printing has gone from a novelty to a serious industry, a predicted $16 billion industry by 2018 according to Canalys as stated in another article from the Guardian. Basically, it has become mobile. It has become additive manufacturing. An article in my local paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, had this interesting quote, “From aerospace to health care to consumer products to toys to medical devices, furniture … what I think you’re going to see is an explosion of use.”
A startup local Atlanta-based 3D printing company, CloudDDM, is looking to make an impact. Traditional manufacturing requires the creation of dies or molds that can cost thousands of dollars to create a prototype. 3D printing only requires a digital file with the design of an object, and the specialized “ink”. This also introduces a whole new issue to supply chain and the manufacturing process–protection of intellectual property (IP), in the form of the digital files being sent to 3D printers. Just as important as the prototype itself, is the thought and research behind the design. Printers can be a vast source of digital information based on the memory they possess. This creates a potential security issue.
Atlanta is home to many Fortune 500 companies like Coca Cola, Home Depot and UPS. UPS has already thought about how 3D printing could affect its core business, which involves moving materials in the supply chain. They installed a 3D printer at a local high-profile store, which will be able to perform on-demand services. Their rationale was, if businesses can produce parts easily on-site, instead of off-shore or elsewhere domestically, that could impact the UPS global market for shipping and logistics and cut into revenue. To get ahead of the curve, UPS invested in the aforementioned CloudDDM. The two companies have jointly opened a facility near the UPS air hub in Louisville, Kentucky, with more than 100 industrial 3D printers. They can take an order in the afternoon for a 3D printed item and ship it overnight for arrival the next day.
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This is a guest post from Meena Al-Azzawe, Process Integration Manager, Qorvo, who presented at Kinexions on ‘Expediting Time to Value With Data Integration’ alongside Kinaxis’ Angela Adams.
I could hardly contain my excitement as I cleared the TSA checkpoint and marched down to my gate. This time, it was different. This time, I was slated to co-present at one of the breakout sessions on a topic I continue to hold near and dear: scalable, sustainable and extensible data integration methodologies.
Anxiety set in with each passing minute: what if, just, what if, no one would find the value in what I had to share. What if the novelty of ideation was not as novel or different? What if I would simply be preaching to the choir and I would have the privilege of watching their eyes roll back to their heads?
I put a lid on the growing population of butterflies that seemed to have permanently moved into my stomach. Instead, I shifted my thought to the people I looked forward to connecting with – my account rep, my customer success manager, my professional services pals, my customer support team and my enabling co-presenter. Yes. There is comfort in being around people who have consistently enabled your personal success for a handful of years.
As with all connections, there is also the excitement of the connections you have yet to make – new relationships and new friendships waiting just beneath the surface of the known that hold the promise of shifting your course on to an ever more successful trajectory.
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There were so many great insights this year from Kinexions, Kinaxis’ annual training and user conference. The learning about supply chain that happened CANNOT stay in Vegas!
Some of the themes from this year’s conference were innovation, collaboration, agility and concurrent planning.
- Jeff DeGraff gave a memorable speech on innovation. To quote Jeff, “Innovation is the result of constructive conflict. Innovation requires accelerating the failure rate; not avoiding it.” Many of us in supply chain are baby boomers, caught up in processes, standards and procedures. We like everything to be under control. There is a talent shortage in supply chain. If we are going to attract millennials to join supply chain we need to be willing to change our perspective. We need data scientists and supply chain professionals that embrace creativity, collaboration and innovation.
- Accenture pronounced the death of the linear supply chain. Decisions are made collaboratively across global networks. Decisions are made in hours to days versus days to weeks. Supply chains require visibility, real-time analytics, predictive analytics and execution. Predictive analytics allow companies to quickly assess the past, present and future. The execution of decisions requires collaboration and human judgment.
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Today is Remembrance Day (also known as Veterans Day in the US). It is a day to honor and remember the sacrifices of so many who gave their lives, and continue to give them, to provide a world where peace is a possibility. It is not a day to write about frivolous things like chocolate, or turkey, or houseplants, like I’ve done in the past. It’s a day to mourn those who made the ultimate sacrifice, praise those who fought to secure freedoms I have always had, and to be thankful that there are still so many brave men and women willing to march into armed conflicts across the globe to stand up for what is right. A blog looking at the poppy supply chain just didn’t seem like enough to honor them.
So instead of examining the ins and outs of how that iconic red symbol of hope and sacrifice found its way onto your lapel, I thought I’d write about something a little more personal, even if it has less to do with supply chain.
Both my grandfathers were veterans of World War II. Both survived the war but returned home to their loving wives and families with deep scars. A story echoed by so many. For my father’s father, the wounds were extremely physical. A grenade explosion during a routine training exercise left him with a steel plate replacing a sizable portion of his skull. The damage substantial enough to leave him without a sense of taste, and reduced vision and hearing. He was one of the lucky ones.
As a child, I’d been told how grandpa got that big dent in his head, skin now laying smoothly over steel. I understood it was a result of the war. What I didn’t comprehend was how difficult it must have been to save his life. The ability to get him quickly to army doctors, the limited availability of metal during those years, and the sheer number of medical essentials needed for the surgery and resulting recovery. A single misstep in any of those critical supply chains and I would not be here today as my own father was born years after the war ended.
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