Market leaders “accelerate in the turns”


I’ve spent the day at the High-tech Forecasting & Planning Summit hosted by the IE Group where I’ve heard presentations from Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, Fairchild Semiconductor, Netgear, AT&T, Google, i2, Samsung, T-Mobile and International Planning & Research.  I plan to put out a couple of posts covering the event – but wanted to start off by summarizing a central theme I picked up today.

As you can probably imagine, EVERYONE talked about the impact of the economy and the pressure to reduce costs throughout the supply chain.  Everyone spoke about the challenges of accurately forecasting demand in such an environment and the supply chain implications resulting from this volatility.  But, there was an over-arching theme that was much more long-term and positive that also came out. 

During a session entitled “Collaborative Planning – Ensuring Strategy is Achieved in Dynamic Environments”, Cisco Vice President in the Office of Strategy & Planning Jonathan Ballon summed it up nicely when he spoke of Cisco’s philosophy.  Namely, he said that at scale, speed & agility matter, that opaque demand is only one problem and their mindset is that you need to “accelerate in the turns.”

This notion of looking at the long-term and retrenching during the current downturn was evident in many of the sessions.  Most of the presenters acknowledged that they were aggressively managing costs, but at the same time staying true to their long-term strategies and trying to turn a negative into a positive by addressing fundamental business structure, complexity and processes now to position themselves to be stronger over the long-term.  Almost to a person they spoke of how their companies are working hard to improve their business planning and supply chain management processes.  They are not hunkering down and strictly focusing on cost reductions.

As Jonathan said, their strategy doesn’t change in the face of dynamic times, but the operational execution steps may change to adapt to changing conditions.

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