By Bruce Richardson, Chief Enterprise Strategist, Salesforce
Newly appointed ketteQ CEO Mike Landry says, with future demand more uncertain than ever and the economy wavering, supply chain owners and operators need more accurate visibility and holistic technology solutions to navigate a now chronically dim horizon. But technological advances can help companies seize enormous opportunities. I sat down with Mike to get his take on industry trends and the future of ketteQ’s growth and scale.
Q: What is the current outlook for the supply chain industry?
A: It is like the famous quote from Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…,” said Mike, who officially took the helm as CEO of ketteQ in August. Never has the supply chain industry been more important. Everyone is interested in supply chain functions and that means supply chain executives have a bigger seat at the table to influence company decisions. But that comes with pressure.
Future demand has become incredibly uncertain, and no one knows which way the wind is blowing, from the economy to COVID impacts to supply availability. Over the last two years, we have seen things none of us would have seen coming. All our shared supply chain history is no longer helpful, making consistently predicting demand more challenging than ever. Managing supply and demand has become a tightrope walk with winds blowing from every direction. It is a very stressful time for supply chain operators.
The back half of this year will not improve. The war in Ukraine has added global pressure and our own political landscape, with elections coming in November, is creating economic fluctuations as concerns over a recession grow and inflation continues to hit us hard. Add to that the complexity of growing a business and managing a supply chain. There really is no relief in sight. Our supply chain is more globalized and fragile than ever.
Q: What are the most important things supply chain operators need to know or consider?
A: Our global supply chains are all interdependent and that fact cannot be emphasized enough now. The chip shortage, for example, has had a major, multi-industry impact, and similarly, the war in Ukraine has impacted natural gas supplies across the world as winter approaches.
In today’s climate for manufacturers and supply chain owners and operators, if one thing gets off track, the entire chain can be disrupted. Simultaneously, we are so much more aware of what it takes to get a product from manufacturing to a store to a customer. It is incredible to think that we can buy a TV for $500 that was created on the other side of the world.
Manufacturing and production in the U.S. show signs of accelerating, but predictability is very low and material supplies can be spotty.
I spoke to a company recently that cannot fulfill half of their current orders. Their warehouses are 95 percent full, and material inventory is sitting there because they are waiting for one missing part. They are waiting and their customers are waiting. That is because the supply chain of materials is not synchronized globally. If one thing is late, everything else must wait before the supply chain can catch up.
We proposed helping them by deploying our software to get the answers they needed for this one-use case and to determine the best next step. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon scenario for companies now and solutions can range from expediting orders for materials to canceling material orders that are filling up warehouses and sucking up cash.
Supply chain operators must get a landscape view of all the soft spots within their operations, find out where those weak links are, and start to get an analysis going of all initiatives that could be launched to make improvements. Create a roadmap and be thoughtful in moving through an improvement plan.
Q: What are the key challenges facing supply chain operators and what can be done to meet challenges?
A: One of the key blind spots for the supply chain industry today is a lack of innovation for planning and visibility solutions over the past 10-20 years. Legacy systems have been slow to upgrade, and the supply chain planning solution industry has not kept pace with the speed of advances in technology. Older providers find it difficult to reinvent themselves, with data structures, analytics, and systems that are built on old architecture. Newer companies with solutions build on the latest technology and architecture have longer-term value and advantages. This may be counterintuitive, but they actually have lower risk than the older, established companies.
Enter ketteQ. Our platform is cloud-native from the start with our revolutionary ‘polymatic’ architecture, built and deployed on a combination of Salesforce and AWS. There are many advantages to the SFDC cloud since we coexist with other solutions to create a unique user experience and better workflow. And, leveraging data management, sharing, and analytics advantages of the AWS cloud unlocks additional value for a whole company.
ketteQ’s newness also translates to nimbleness and flexibility advantages, able to wedge into small use cases or business areas that are the most critical for a company. Getting quick results and learning enables a roadmap of initiatives and value growth. Often, we start in one area of a company’s operations where need and readiness are the greatest. Companies do not have to make a wholesale tech change all at once. We and our business champions take advantage of the fact that IT departments are generally very familiar with and comfortable operating with our cloud partners.
Q: What does the future hold for ketteQ?
A: Our vision is growing a world-class company with ground-breaking supply chain solutions, helping clients compete and grow, said Landry, a supply chain veteran with deep roots in the industry, most recently as SVP and Global Supply Chain Leader for Genpact and as president of Barkawi Management Consultants’ North America practice. When I look back on 12+ years at Genpact-Barkawi, and 11+ years as the founder/CTO of Servigistics, this is the culmination of a life’s work… for me and the entire leadership team who have successfully worked together on this mission a few times before.
We want to be more than a software company by being a true partner in delivering better ways, results, and value. Our solutions might be the enabler, but we can provide more than that between our team and our global services partners. We are building a whole solution approach for supply chain owners and operators. More importantly, our culture is one that prioritizes setting the right expectations and maximizing the impact for our clients. I am most excited about our potential and the speed to become a great supply chain planning and visibility option for companies, large and small.
Ready to make improvements and upgrades to your systems? We would love to help.