Posts by Bob Ferrari

Kinexions 2015 Key Themes and How They Relate to the Coming Year

BobFerrari

Businessman holding crystal ball with the word 'future'The following guest blog commentary is contributed by Bob Ferrari, Founder and Executive Editor of the Supply Chain Matters blog and Managing Director of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC.

Kinexions 2015, the annual Kinaxis training and user conference, featured some fascinating speakers that delivered timely messages and themes for the supply chain management community regarding important competencies. Kirsten Watson of Kinaxis touched upon some of these themes in a previous blog posting. As we enter 2016, such messages will take on a special meaning, and in this guest contribution, I wanted to touch upon some of the key takeaways that stood out for this author and how they relate to the year ahead.

Jeff DeGraff, the ‘Dean of Innovation’ from the University of Michigan addressed the topic of connecting the dots of innovation as it relates to business and value chain strategy. A clear message that he delivers to C-suite audiences is that if companies seek growth, it has to originate from the speed and magnitude of innovation – “Innovation is your only friend.” A clear message delivered to the supply chain management community was that innovation occurs all across the value chain, and that supply chain teams are one of the few groups that can connect the dots vertically and horizontally.

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Preparing Skills for the Future of Supply Chain Management

BobFerrari

Worker at a desk working on computing skillsThe following guest blog commentary is contributed by Bob Ferrari, Founder and Executive Editor of the Supply Chain Matters blog and Managing Director of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC.

In October, I had the opportunity to speak at the APICS 2015 conference. My topic was: Positioning Your Skills for the Future Needs of Supply Chain Management, and in this 21st Century Supply Chain guest blog, I wanted to share some of my key messages to this audience as well, since this is a topic frequently brought up.

There is no question that supply chain talent development has become a top of mind multi-industry challenge that takes on different dimensions for both attracting and retaining key talent. The debate is often focused on whether strategies should address a perceived “skills gap” or a “training gap.”

But first, dwell for a moment on the various megatrends and converging forces impacting multiple businesses today. More technology-empowered and demanding customers have added to increases in the clock speed of business in multiple dimensions. Business growth and profitability stems from newer products, innovative services, and emerging markets. Speed is now a compelling requirement in all dimensions of supply chain business and decision-making processes. There is now increased senior management awareness to the strategic importance of the supply chain’s contribution to required business outcomes. With that recognition is keen awareness as to availability and retention of needed skills and talent, but individual strategies and action plans vary across industry settings.

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Tapping the Power of Many – The Application of Social Enabled Supply Chain Processes

BobFerrari

hand touching touch pad, social media conceptThe following guest blog commentary is contributed by Bob Ferrari, Founder and Executive Editor of the Supply Chain Matters blog and Managing Director of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC.

In March of 2011, I had the opportunity to join fellow supply chain management bloggers Trevor Miles and Lora Cecere in a Kinaxis sponsored thought-leadership webcast focusing on the potential of the social supply chain. The concept of the social supply chain was relatively new, not well understood, and lacking many specific examples to cite. The closest context was one articulated by noted IT author Geoffrey Moore, who labeled the term “systems of engagement”. Back then, supply chain organizations were becoming aware of Facebook and Twitter, but not in the context of business. Many businesses were banning the use of social media on work premises.

Yet, we all believed that the potential leveraging of social media tools in demand, supply and risk management elements of supply chain business processes had enormous potential. I noted in a Supply Chain Expert Community posting at the time that: “social concepts do not equate to endless 120 character streams of unrelated or broadcasted information, but rather a context to a business process need.”

Indeed, four years later, after much market education and early adopter successes, leveraging social supply chain applications to enhance business processes has far more meaning and applied uses. The notion of social tools as mechanisms for matching people possessing respective skills, expertise, and knowledge with specific internal or external process and decision-making needs has more meaning and application. That is especially pertinent to today’s reality of increasingly complex and fast moving globally based supply chain networks.

It is about tapping the expertise and power of the extended supply chain network.

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Supply Chain Transformation — The Important Element of Information Strategy

BobFerrari

supply chain transformation involves people, process, technology and informationThe following guest blog commentary is contributed by Bob Ferrari, Founder and Executive Editor of the Supply Chain Matters blog and Managing Director of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC.

We often context and plan supply chain transformation initiatives under the three-pronged perspectives of People, Process and Technology enablers. I would urge transformation teams to seriously consider a fourth component, that being Information, including the velocity, context and clarity of information. While some may be of the mistaken belief that the element of Information is solely the perspective of IT, it is rather a jointly-owned, cross-functional element of transformation.

Across various industry supply chains, a lot of executive level visionary thought and leadership energy is becoming focused on supply chain transformation efforts, namely moving the needle towards more agile or resilient supply chain response capabilities. The reasons are many and varied. Today’s clock speed of rapid and continuous business change requires that industry supply chains be more agile and able to anticipate changes in customer, product, or fulfillment segment needs, quicker than competitors. The complexity and sheer speed of events occurring across the global supply chain implies an exceptions-based focus, allowing advanced technology to monitor and oversee day-to-day customer focused fulfillment. Having a bold vision to the end-state capabilities required across the value-chain is essential. With the increasing demands of online and omni-channel customer fulfillment, the end-state is often defined as the supply chain being more predictive and exceptions-driven in terms of response.

Many of today’s industry supply chain and sales and operations planning (S&OP) teams however, find themselves drowning in too much data while lacking in important insights. Hence transformation efforts can start on the wrong footing.

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