Posts by Kirsten Watson

Top 7 Quotes from Kinexions


Innovation at KinexionsWell, that’s a wrap. Kinexions ’15 is in the books. And what a whirlwind it’s been. The sessions were inspirational, informative, and insightful. With a strong focus on innovation, digital technology enablement, and collaboration, the future of supply chain looks to be a bright one.

With so many exceptional speakers, I left feeling motivated and encouraged. For those who were unable to attend, you missed something extraordinary, but here are my top seven quotes from the conference to give you at least a glimpse into what transpired. And for those who were able to attend, I hope you got as much out of the conference as I did.

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Top Three Best Moments from Kinexions: Day Two


Kinexions SelfieWell, Kinexions 2015 is in the books and the second and final day was just as great as the first. There was a ton more laughter and learning – a common theme across all of the sessions. After listening to so many presenters, chatting with numerous customers, partners and prospects, and seeing our team pull together to put on an amazing event, it was difficult to choose just three best moments.

I can’t re-cap everything that happened over the past two days (stay tuned for a lot more blogs on the supply chain themes that emerged), but here’s what stood out the most for me on day two.

#3. Keynote speaker Gary Hanifan. His presentation, “Is You Supply Chain a Growth Engine?” explored so many interesting concepts around leveraging digital technologies to help distinguish your supply chain from your competitors. The future of digital strategy and this emerging concept of a digital supply network certainly looks like it will be the death of the linear supply chain model.

#2. Schneider Electric’s on-stage selfie. Schneider Electric’s Supply Chain Global Planning Vice President, Francois Martin-Festa took to the stage in a snappy suit and talked about end-to-end supply chain strategy. He spoke on collaboration and certainly took his own words to heart when he collaborated with our own Bill DuBois, host of the Late Late Supply Chain Show here at Kinexions, and captured a great moment with one of the selfie sticks we’d given out the night before at our fantastic customer appreciation dinner.

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Top Three Moments from Kinexions: Day One


KinexionsWe’re all about making supply chain fun, so it should come as no big surprise that our annual training and user conference, Kinexions, embodies that same spirit. And since we were in Vegas, we let the good times roll. With Elvis, showgirls, and a remarkably good Jimmy Fallon impersonation, the first day of the conference was full of laughter. But there was also a whole lot of learning – both about Kinaxis and our RapidResponse solution, and the challenges and triumphs of the supply chain industry as a whole.

Here are my top three favorite moments from day one of Kinexions ’15.

#3. When current Kinaxis CEO Doug Colbeth apologized for not stepping down sooner.

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El Niño May Have Your Supply Chain Partying Like It’s 1997


El Niño phenomenonIt’s not often that a weather phenomenon becomes part of the pop culture zeitgeist. But that’s exactly what happened in the late 1990s, when El Niño became a household name—and even a character played by Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live.

El Niño is a blanket term for the effects of an unusual warming of water in the Pacific Ocean that occurs once or twice a decade. A massive El Niño occurred in 1997-1998, unleashing record rains in California, deadly tornados in Florida, and a brutal drought in Indonesia, thus landing the term firmly on the radar (no pun intended) of millions of people around the globe.

With its whimsical name, El Niño became a punchline—the cause of anything and everything that might be going wrong (hence that Chris Farley sketch on SNL). But El Niño was no joke then. And it still isn’t, despite the headline of this post. That liberal paraphrasing of a classic Prince song refers to particularly strong El Niño conditions predicted by the National Weather Service for winter 2015-2016—the likes of which haven’t been seen since 1998.

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The Supply Chain Impact of Europe’s Refugee Crisis


A red cross in chains representing the humanitarian aid supply chain.The Syrian refugee crisis has produced some staggering statistics. According to UNCHR, the UN refugee agency, more than four million Syrians are living outside their country as registered refugees. In Lebanon alone, more than a million Syrians have taken refuge, increasing the country’s population by a third. More than 12 million people are in need of humanitarian aid as a result of the civil war raging in Syria.

While the Syrian refugee migration has received significant press coverage recently, it’s only one part of a larger, dire picture. According to a recent UNHCR report, nearly 60 million people were forcibly displaced in 2014 from countries such as Iraq, Eritrea, and Afghanistan. Of those 60 million people, 19.5 million were refugees.

A crisis of this magnitude creates a mind-boggling supply chain and logistics challenge. Relief agencies normally spend as much as 80% of their proceeds on logistics and supply chain. Unfortunately, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, its income in 2015 will be 10% less than in 2014.

Need is clearly skyrocketing. The location of those in need is evolving and unpredictable. Funding is lacking. So, how can the supply chain fulfill refugees’ basic requirements for food, water, shelter, and medical assistance? Several companies and projects have emerged to address this critical question.

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3 Supply Chain Career Requirements for Millennials


A group of millennials working in an officeThese days it seems you can’t spend ten minutes surfing the internet without seeing an article about millennials. Heck, we’ve even written about the generation of people spanning those born in the early 1980s to the mid-1990s. At the same time, in supply chain forums, media, and blogs, talk of the talent shortage in the industry is inescapable. So, how do these two topics converge? In many ways, as quickly becomes apparent.

The supply chain management workforce is comprised mostly of Baby Boomers at the moment—but they’re starting to retire. And, the numbers of professionals transitioning out of supply chain careers will rise significantly over the coming years. Compounding the looming departure of thousands of professionals from the industry is the fact that a shortage of supply chain talent already exists. A study conducted by Supply Chain Insights found that demand for supply chain talent outpaces supply—despite the rise of supply chain-focused university programs over the last two decades. That study noted 46% of respondents stated “Talent: knowledge and availability” was their most significant business pain.

Given these dynamics, it’s obvious attracting and retaining supply chain talent is critical. Many articles have explored how to entice young people to study supply chain management at the university level. But here, I want to focus on how companies can attract millennials currently working in supply chain management—and keep them happy and productive on the job. As you read on, you’ll see a common theme emerge.

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3 Ways Crowdsourcing Is Revolutionizing Supply Chain Management


Visual representation of crowdourcing using heads made of mechanical gearsThe term crowdsourcing—the process of obtaining ideas, services or information by soliciting feedback from a large group of people—has existed since 2005. But its fundamental concept predates the name by centuries. In 1714, the British government offered the public a monetary prize to the person who created the best solution for measuring a ship’s longitude.

As has been this case with so many concepts, the internet has given crowdsourcing phenomenal reach and influence. We’ve already seen the significant impact that crowdsourcing has on modern business product development, production and delivery, and that effect will undoubtedly only grow over time. Here are three ways that crowdsourcing is revolutionizing supply chain management today—and in the future.

Crowdsourcing increases on-time, cost-effective delivery.

Amazon consistently ranks on or near the top of lists touting the best supply chains—and for good reason. It drives an innovative fulfillment strategy through its vast distribution center network and independent delivery fleet that enables it to guarantee two-day delivery. Amazon’s achievements in supply chain management have led consumers to establish an incredibly high bar for timely and accurate product delivery. The Amazon customer satisfaction standard has changed the game for every retailer of every size.

Crowdsourcing transportation presents a solution for smaller enterprises to compete in this environment. One such service provider is Cargomatic, who connects local shippers with carrier companies who have extra space in their trucks. The “last-mile” phase of the traditional fulfillment process is often the most expensive (accounting for as much as 50 percent of a company’s logistics costs), but crowdsourced transportation can sometimes enable same-day delivery at the cost of standard shipping. And crowdsourced traffic apps like Waze are helping a multitude of delivery drivers find the most efficient routes with real-time help from other drivers.

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What Qualities Make the Best Supply Chain Leaders?


leading change, shared vision, empowering people - all good examples of a strong supply chain leaderWhen considering what attributes supply chain leaders are most likely to possess, it’s easy to think first of hard skills—analytical prowess, technology expertise, and operations and economics knowledge quickly come to mind. But while hard skills may land you a job, many times it’s your soft skills that will keep you there—and accelerate your climb up the corporate ladder. So what attributes from both areas are today’s supply chain leaders most likely to possess?

The APICS Supply Chain Council set out to answer this question in its latest industry report entitled “Supply Chain Leadership Report: Many Styles Generate Success.” The findings were generated from multiple sources, including surveys of APICS members, articles, and external research. With the goal to share a professional capabilities blueprint for current and future supply chain leaders, the report explores pivotal features of a successful supply chain leader, including his or her attributes, leadership style and ability to formally and informally influence an array of stakeholders.

With its focused research of supply chain and operations management professionals across multiple industries and management levels, APICS pinpointed these core themes for successful supply chain leadership:

  • Applying certainty to uncertain situations affecting others, such as in forecasting or decision making
  • Balancing risk and reward in careful analysis using hard and soft skills
  • Aligning tactics to strategy in planning and harmony with organizational culture
  • Maintaining and improving relationships of supply chain partners
  • Satisfying competing priorities and stakeholders on an ongoing basis

Let’s take a closer look at why these skills have undoubtedly earned relevance in today’s supply chain management industry.

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