Posts by Dr. Madhav Durbha

Takeaways from the 2018 Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference

Dr. MadhavDurbha

Dana Stiffler - Gartner Supply Chain Executive ConferenceSupply chain insights from leading industry experts

Supply chain skills in high demand, digital twins, disruptive technologies, and other takeaways from the 2018 Gartner supply chain conference

I just returned from the highly engaging and inspiring Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. With more than 2200 supply chain professionals in attendance, the event had a very good representation across practitioners, technology providers, and consultants.

Here are some key takeaways from the Gartner supply chain event:

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Patient-centric networks at the heart of pharmaceutical supply chain management: Lessons from LogiPharma Europe 2018

Dr. MadhavDurbha

LogiPharma 18

In early April I attended the LogiPharma Europe 2018 conference in Montreux, Switzerland, an event that attracted more than 800 attendees, including practitioners and executives from pharma and medical device industries, along with software vendors and many service providers.

Here are some key takeaways from a content-rich, fun and exciting pharma supply chain conference.

1. Patient-centric networks are reshaping pharma supply chains

In a thought provoking presentation, Philippe Francois, global head of supply chain for Novartis, observed that while pharma companies have been talking about patient centricity for years, a typical pharma supply chain links the Active Pharma Ingredient (API) to manufacturing, distribution, retail/pharmacy, and finally to patient—with the patient always at the end of the chain!

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Supply chain agility and flexibility: The story of an IT executive

Dr. MadhavDurbha

Why IT matters to business success and effective supply chain managementThe coffee shop was buzzing.

I was meeting my longtime friend Gagan, and we managed to find a reasonably quiet corner to settle into for what I anticipated to be a long conversation. He and I went to school together and started our supply chain careers at nearly the same time. I joined a supply chain software company while Gagan joined a large global manufacturer and quickly grew through the ranks to be the vice president of supply chain IT in his company.

Throughout our careers, we continued to meet up whenever our travels crossed paths. Gagan is typically an upbeat and optimistic person, but on this day, something was clearly weighing him down. As it turned out, it was about his job, his sense of ownership, digital transformation and his company’s supply chain. Gagan was reporting to the CIO, and the board of directors recently mandated the company embark on a digital transformation journey. As part of the initiative, Gagan’s CEO brought in a new chief digital officer (CDO) as a peer to the CIO. And that’s when Gagan’s troubles started.

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8 steps for a successful business case for your supply chain investments

Dr. MadhavDurbha

business case for your supply chain investmentsOver the years I’ve had the opportunity to engage in or witness the process organizations go through to prepare business cases in support of supply chain investments, from the successfully crafted and executed, to those that fail to gain traction.

Based on that experience, I wanted to share my eight most important pieces of advice for those being asked to prepare a business case for their supply chain investments.

  1. Ensure clarity on the strategic objectives of your organization.
    Any sizeable supply chain investment draws the attention of the senior leadership. Rightfully, your leadership will look to understand how the initiative supports the overall strategic objectives of the business. Being well versed with these objectives and able to demonstrate how the proposed initiative will support them is paramount to getting buy-in from your executives.
  2. Show how the initiative supports strategic objectives.
    Are your executives measured on servicing strategic customers better than your competition and reducing regulatory risks? If so, your business case will need to show how you can align with these objectives. For example, understanding your customers’ buying behaviors and segmenting and serving them based on these behaviors will help differentiate strategic customers. By enabling end-to-end visibility across your entire network, you can put a flashlight on looming regulatory risks. Make strong links between the strategic objectives and the enablers as directly and explicitly as possible.

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An optimist’s view of Blockchain in supply chain: Learnings from Bitcoin

Dr. MadhavDurbha

BitcoinThese days, not a single supply chain conference I attend goes by without someone mentioning Blockchain. Given the growing chatter, I wanted to share my views on the topic. In fact, my interest in Blockchain further increased as I started dabbling in Bitcoin, an application of the Blockchain technology.

As per Wikipedia, a Blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Bitcoin is a form of decentralized digital cryptocurrency, not controlled by any nation or issuing bank.

Launched in 2009, Bitcoin was initially written off as a scam or fad. However, to the surprise of naysayers, Bitcoin did survive and is thriving, building quite a following. Here are some factors that are making Bitcoin a very attractive proposition, which are a direct result of the underlying Blockchain technology:

  1. Secure encrypted transactions ensuring privacy of the involved parties: Through a combination of public and private key encryptions facilitated by Blockchain, Bitcoin provides a virtually hacker-proof way of making and receiving payments. This is quite fascinating considering the code behind Bitcoin itself is open source. In a Blockchain, each transaction is recorded to a “block” across a large number of distributed systems. This transaction is then authenticated by each node in the network and is facilitated by individuals like you and me, who are referred to as “miners” in the Bitcoin world. Once recorded, the transaction cannot be altered, and it forever resides in a public distributed ledger that’s shared between the network nodes. The identity of the sender and receiver are protected through the encryption mechanisms. Not surprisingly, some of the early adopters of Bitcoin were those dealing in illegal goods and drugs through the now defunct Silkroad, online marketplace being the most prominent. While any technology can be put to both good and bad use, supply chains require a high degree of privacy and security to ensure validity of transactions for perfectly legitimate reasons – which Blockchain can enable.

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Machine intelligence and human creativity in supply chain planning

Dr. MadhavDurbha

artificial intelligence I am reading this absolutely fascinating book “Deep Thinking: Where machine intelligence ends and human creativity begins” by Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion. As the title suggests, in this book Kasparov shares a highly provocative point of view on artificial intelligence and its implications for the human race, with the backdrop of his 1997 loss in a highly publicized chess match up against IBM’s chess computer Deep Blue. The book did make me reflect on my own experiences and views on the division of labor between the machines and human supply chain planners.

Much has been written and said about how machine intelligence is impacting supply chain planning in the form of automating a human planner’s function, with implications on the future of the profession itself. I would be remiss in stating that automation will have no impact on planning profession. Yes! The focus on automation in planning is increasing and will continue to increase. However, this has to take place in the context of empowering planners and significantly augmenting their productivity to handle activities with larger scope and with higher levels of cognition that can drive strategic value for business. When done in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, automation initiatives can significantly benefit planners who are willing to adapt and change, and organizations as a whole.

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Supply chain agility, the disillusioned data scientist, Amazon effect, and other tales from LogiPharma US 2017

Dr. MadhavDurbha

LogiPharma - Pharmaceutical supply chainI was at the recent LogiPharma US conference for the pharmaceutical supply chain leaders. However, most of the insights and the stories I took away from the event are applicable to other industries as well. Here they are:

1. Personalized medicine demands supply chain agility: During a highly engaging panel discussion on “Building a patient-centric supply chain”, Kevin Cook, VP of North America supply chain at Sandoz (a division of Novartis) talked about the unique nature of the recently approved Kymriah, CAR-T cell therapy for children and young adults with certain types of Leukemia. The therapy showed an 83% remission rate in the patient population studied! In CAR-T cell therapy, every single dose of a treatment is completely personalized, as it involves extracting the patient’s immune cells, bringing them to a production facility, genetically modifying them, transporting them back (at minus 180oF!!), and then reinfusing the patient to fight the cancer cells. So, personalized medicine is here! With it comes several logistical challenges.

While Kymriah is the ultimate example of personalized therapy, there were several attending companies that provided therapies for rare diseases affecting a few hundred to a few thousand patients across the globe. In such a high mix, low volume portfolio, decisions such as how to allocate short supply to patients in case of contamination of a manufactured batch, can be lifesaving. Brad Pawlowski of Accenture said it right during his opening remarks – “Instead of executing one supply chain a thousand times, we should get ready to execute a thousand supply chains, one at a time”.

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Digital supply chains, AI, Blockchain and the future of work – Insights from the Gartner supply chain executive conference

Dr. MadhavDurbha

Gartner 2017The 2017 Gartner supply chain executive conference took place at the O2-Intercontinental Hotel in London on September 20th and 21st. The theme of the conference was ACT (Aspire, Challenge, Transform), same as the Gartner supply chain summit in Phoenix during May of this year. A few of the presentations in London, such as a highly provocative key note by John Philips of PepsiCo are a repeat from this prior event. I covered my observations from the May event in a previous blog. To avoid repetition, I will focus on some net new messages that resonated well with me from this event. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Tailor your supply chain to cater to diverse businesses: In his keynote, Mourad Tamoud, EVP of Global Supply Chain Operations of Schneider Electric talked about how they are segmenting their supply network based on their customer personas and purchasing behaviors. Based on how Schneider plans, delivers and executes, the following five supply chain models were defined:

a. Collaborative
b. Lean supply chain (for customers who value the economic aspects of their purchases)
c. Agile model (for the customers who value reliability above all else)
d. Project model (for high level of configurability)
e. Fully flexible

Using these different supply chain models, Schneider was able to tailor the service and the overall experience for customers by different personas/groups. The crux of his message was that the overall design and the technological enablers are equally important in enabling “tailored supply chains”.

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