Group Futurista’s Future of Digital Supply Chain in a Post-COVID world (FODS 3.0) conference is a couple of short days away and as a media partner, All Things Supply Chain will be covering the event. In addition, I will also be moderating the virtual summit’s only panel discussion, “Digital Supply Trends of 2021: What new changes will prevail.” With presentations from industry leaders Airbus and Johnson & Johnson, as well as from the event’s sponsors Concentric Inc., Kinaxis, and Project44, the events agenda is packed with a mix of big questions and practical digitalization solutions. Being a fan of technology, I thought I would do a bit of research to help me prepare for FODS 3.0 and share some of that here.
The Elephant in the Title
In contrast to past FODS events, this year’s event is being moved online and will have a strong focus on the impact that COVID-19 has had on the supply chain. While I’m sure we all still miss seeing others in real-life, the truth is that COVID hasn’t released us from her grip and virtual is the only way to host a summit like FODS for the time being. The same can be said for doing business in general. Many of us have been in some version of home office for nearly a year with no signs of it letting up any time soon.
The obvious aside, there are countless great pieces of content online dissecting the impact of COVID on the supply chain. Deloitte put together a tidy little piece on mitigating the risks to your supply chain – it’s worth the quick read if you haven’t seen it. Every reader of this has a story about trying to find toilet paper last year around April/May. IMD has put together a great article on the “shocks” to the supply chain dealt by the various COVID-19 lockdowns.
Speaking to this reality will be manufacturing giants Airbus and Johnson & Johnson. Representing Airbus will be Pierre Perdoux, SVP Procurement Operations. Saurabh Verma, Director, Value Chain Excellence will be representing Johnson & Johnson. Pierre will be the first speaker with a keynote on, “How digital solutions can support performance improvement within the Supply Chain.” Saurabh will deliver the 4th keynote on, “Digital Twins: Enabling Transparency & Accuracy across the value chain processes.” Both speakers will co-present during the event’s Fireside Chat where they will discuss the “Digital Response to COVID-19 pandemic disruption.”
One of the not so obvious factors discussed is the “aftershocks” caused by the “bullwhip effect.” Or, in other words, a small increase in demand leads to a big increase in production. The article teases whether we’ll see aftershocks or not and ventures a guess that we won’t. One solution discussed is the ability within the supply chain to accurately assess the “real” market demand and COVID’s external impact and accurately weed out the noise and produce what is really required. This certainly sounds like a tech problem to me and is a good segue way to looking at demand planning software solutions.
Demand Planning Solutions to the Rescue?
From AI to Prescriptive Analytics, I’m looking forward to hearing how the event’s sponsors will be presenting balance the need to pitch their product and its features while also educating the listeners on why their products are a solution to the challenges supply chain professionals are seeing from COVID. Sponsors Concentric, Kinaxis, and project44 all have an opportunity to not simply pitch their products but to also help us all learn why technology is one of the strongest possible solutions to the challenge. I’m genuinely hoping that they rise to that challenge. Again, I’m doing my homework in advance to the event on Thursday and thought I’d share a bit of background on the three companies.
Concetric is a US based company founded in 2010 by Greg Silverman, Founder and CEO. Greg will be presenting on, “Augmenting Demand Planning with Prescriptive Analytics.” He’ll also join the panel discussion at the end of the event. Their mission is listed as, “to transform how people make decisions, how companies succeed, how organizations evolve and how the world works.” And with some big names using their software it’s possible they are living up to that mission, the likes of which include: Ford, KPMG, Toyota, Universal, and Whirlpool.
Kinaxis is a Canadian based company founded in 1984 and will be represented by Patrick Van Hull, Industry Thought Leader and “Supply Chain Storyteller.” Patrick will be presenting “Today’s decision are the basis for tomorrow’s supply chain.” He’ll also join the panel discussion at the end of the event. “Agility to plan for all futures,” is the first thing you see on their website – working for a company that delivers mathematical optimization, I strongly doubt this to be the case. Marketing spin aside, their tool is used by some big-name brands like P&G, Unilever, Nissan, Ford, Lockheed Martin, BOSE, and Lenovo – so they must be doing something right.
Project44 is a US based company founded in 2014, making it the youngest of the companies sponsoring the event. It will be represented by Michel Stekelenburg, Director Strategic Accounts EMEA. Michel will deliver a presentation on “COVID-19: Managing supply chain risk and disruption.” In addition, he’ll be the final panelist of the final panel discussion. Project44 say they are “innovators with ambition, fixing the tech issues that plague the global supply chain.” Again, marketing aside, in their six years they’ve managed to attract some really big names as clients including FedEx, DHL, Walgreens, GE Transportation, Amazon, and Lenovo.
Anticipation is Growing
Having completed my pre-event prep, I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to hearing from the various speakers and to learn about what’s worked well, and perhaps what hasn’t worked well while responding to COVID-19 related challenges in the supply chain. I’m also really interested to learn how the various technology solutions presented can be a solution to those challenges and a driver for long-term supply chain digital transformation.