Fireside Chat: Purpose Built Platform for the Supply Chain of the Future

Fireside Chat: Purpose Built Platform for the Supply Chain of the Future

October 27, 2020

By Hank Canitz, director of product marketing, Logility

Recently I had the pleasure to sit down with our own Kevin McInturff, executive vice president of R&D at American Software following his fireside chat at Disruption RX with Mark Balte, senior vice president of product innovation, Logility. The two discussed the challenges companies have faced in the past year and the road ahead. I found the conversation fascinating and thought I would share a few excerpts of it with you.

One of the key themes at Disruption RX was the need to build a resilient supply chain. What are some of the steps you think companies need to take for this to be a reality?

First, companies need a new mindset. Disruptions large and small are nothing new. The problem has been in the response to them. A traditional planning approach says: “I know...if disruptions are more frequent, I’ll simply execute my (traditional) planning methods more often.”

This may sound good, but it isn’t. It leads to what Gartner calls “nervous planning” and what others have referred to as “highly-caffeinated planning.”

The paradigm requires learning to embrace known variability and reject the premise that we’re all at the mercy of uncertainty. Note that this approach acknowledges the certainty of disruptions...but now we’ll be ready with contingencies based on multiple scenarios produced using a digital twin of our supply chain.

Disruptions are not always a negative. How have you seen companies turn these challenges into opportunity?

You are right, often we forget that disruptions are rarely bad for everyone. For example, Logility customer Tillamook Creamery has used Logility for years to better respond to inevitable disruptions in its supply chain. During COVID-19, ice cream sales soared more than 30%!

During a wide-spread disruption, like that caused by Covid-19, a digital planning platform becomes even more valuable -- allowing a company to make faster, and more optimal supply chain decisions. Put another way, it’s all about speed. The process automation capabilities in our platform allows planners to focus on value-adding activities and using fresh data to, for example, get inventory where it needs to be. This means optimizing the finite time a human planner must spend analyzing a situation and taking action to make a positive difference.

As the head of R&D, what are some of the areas your team is focused on?

One key area of investment is driven by our belief in putting the client at the center of our journey. Useful systems are the ones that get used -- we never forget that real humans will be accountable for the utility of our solutions. For us, that means eliminating IT headaches with cloud-native, frictionless, easy-to-upgrade applications.

We’re also focused on making it easy for planners to incorporate new data elements quickly. We want to encourage rapid-fire creativity and never let the platform be a constraint. We’ve observed that this helps planners by freeing them to improve rather than simply automate. If you had asked someone in the 1800s how to improve transportation, they would have said a faster horse. That is a missed opportunity. We want planning professionals obsessing about a car, not faster horses. The happy byproduct is companies that adopt this philosophy will win the talent war, because true talent doesn’t want to just be busy; they want to question everything.

You joined the company about four months ago. What are your impressions so far?

What really impressed me was the drive and passion in everyone I meet, the level of expertise in advanced technologies like Machine Learning and the deep industry knowledge.

Logility is the perfect blend of foundational strength and desire to innovate. The product visionaries here never lose their footing. I find often that companies who are overly enamored with their own technology focus their efforts in the pursuit of the next shiny toy. The reality is more technology for technology’s sake does not always equate to value for the client. While others give in to the temptation to be led by their technology, we will always allow the voice of the customer to guide us toward solving real supply chain problems. 

At the same time, Logility values innovation. We are leading the market in purpose-built and embedded AI-based capabilities that help companies automate planning and accelerate supply chain decision-making.

This is a brief review of Kevin’s session at Disruption RX. Make sure to visit our blog often as we post additional insights and session highlights from the virtual supply chain summit.