Managing supply chains isn’t getting easier. Not only are there ongoing challenges to the way supply chain planning is done following lessons learned from the pandemic, but the world’s complexity isn’t slowing down. Customer demands are forever evolving, sustainability and climate responsibility remain among corporate priorities, and of course, economic and financial issues are looming around the globe.
Sounds like a lot of bad news, but for supply chain management these things represent positive opportunities! Supply chain planners are central to an organization’s success with more visibility into the profession than ever. It’s time to shine.
The idea that there’s a supply chain renaissance underway was a key focus of the recent Big Ideas in Supply Chain Summit 2022, broadcast live from the Kinaxis HQ in Ottawa. Attendees heard from Kinaxis Chief Marketing Officer Jay Muelhoefer and other leaders with guest speakers from Carlsberg Group, Jamieson Wellness, Inc., Extreme Networks, MPO and more about how advanced supply chain planning is poised to navigate businesses toward success, now and in an uncertain future.
Be sure to check out the on-demand sessions here, which include:
- The Supply Chain Renaissance Has Begun
- Carlsberg Group: Harmonizing Planning Across the Supply Chain
- Jamieson Wellness Inc.: Accelerating the Digital Supply Chain Journey
- Extreme Networks: Ditching Spreadsheet-Based Planning to Enable Business Continuity
- MPO: The Critical Convergence of Planning and Execution
- Panel: Innovating Your Supply Chain Talent featuring speakers from Rogers Communications, boom! Global Network, and University of British Columbia
People: the real power behind supply chains
A common theme across sessions and the panel on supply chain talent – while it’s critical to move beyond Excel-based spreadsheet planning and use solutions to progress toward transparency and agility, an organization cannot underestimate the value of its human element. Kinaxis Chief Strategy Officer Anne Robinson, who said she has a passion for AI, ML, automation and advanced analytics, confirmed while technology is important, “It's certainly not the secret ingredient. You already have the secret ingredient: it's your people, it's the humans in the supply chain…at the end of the day, the automation allows the humans to rise up to use that judgment call and tradeoffs that can't be entrusted to machines.”
During the “Innovating Your Supply Chain” panel, leaders shared inspiring insights. For instance, like most companies, the pandemic changed the way wireless provider Rogers Communications did business, said Paul Giamberardino, VP of Supply Chain. “It was a chance for us to build out capabilities that we hadn't had prior to the pandemic,” he said, “And it’s changed the paradigm of how supply chain is viewed within the organization. From what was once a cost center to now driving competitive advantage for Rogers.”
For companies, finding supply chain talent and retaining them is a major concern. Beth Morgan, CEO and founder of boom! Global Network, a global online network connecting female supply chain professionals, shared results of a supply chain talent survey and said a key differentiator is being compassionate leaders with clear vision and the human touch. Meaning, be able to offer flexibility to support employees to do their best work. Provide “better, integrated business tools” and resources to drive productivity, but also take care of individuals with equity and “really think about how we can support work life needs,” said Beth.
While lots of people are fine working remote, in supply chain management there’s no full substitution for at least sporadic connections between colleagues, suppliers, distribution and logistics partners, and others as new insights and collaborations happen in the field. As companies transition toward hybrid working environments and back to offices, Paul added the importance of creating collisions. For example, an “in-person event that brings people together who naturally don't come together to foster ideas to share what they're working on.
At the end of the day in supply chain, we're all really trying to do the same thing, put the right product in the right place at the right time and the right quantity at the right cost,” said Paul. “And naturally, if you believe humans are curious and motivated, when they come together, they're going to share ideas.”
“The fusion of planning and execution”
Throughout the Summit, speakers shared enthusiasm for the future thanks to solutions that enhance planning capabilities from early forecasting to execution, faster and smarter than ever. Martin Verwijmeren, Co-Founder and CEO of MPO, which was recently acquired by Kinaxis, spoke of the importance of platforms that “support the fusion of planning and execution across a multi-enterprise network” to create transparency, collaboration and optimization simultaneously across different functions.
These planning solutions are critical for global companies today, according to Guy Currin from Extreme Networks. After a few acquisitions, Extreme Networks needed an integration solution that would help bring data together more effectively than their previous reliance on Excel, SAP and other planning systems. Guy is the manager of the RapidResponse integration at his company and explained the ongoing integration process. He pointed out how, during and after COVID-19, Extreme Networks was able to enhance critical component tracking; the sales team has been able to identify new inventory opportunities; and from a cost management perspective, was able to strategically avoid tariffs on components from China.
Overall, Guy said RapidResponse is valuable because it enables ongoing evolution “because our users just have a lot of fantastic ideas, or there are a lot of disruptions that are out there, that calls us to continue to do development on top of the platform.”
In addition, more advanced planning solutions running with concurrent technology can help companies meet goals on multiple layers at the same time – everything from improving customer experience, adding value to partners throughout the supply chain ecosystem, and reducing waste in a circular model to help meet sustainability goals.
These are just a handful of Summit highlights, so be sure to take some time to enjoy the full program on-demand by clicking below. It’s an exciting time to be in supply chain planning, and with technology designed to fully support and enhance what planners already bring to the table, the future is only poised to get brighter for those ready to embrace big ideas.