Last week, this Editor was in Chicago to both deliver a keynote at a Nulogy customer executive conference and to attend the annual LLamacon customer conference, both held in different venues in the city.

In this blog, we wanted to share some observations and highlights regarding last week’s LLamasoft event.

For readers who may be unfamiliar with LLamasoft, this technology provider provides a suite of applications addressing areas such as supply chain network design, advanced analytics related to capacity management, sales and operations planning decision support, among other applications. The company’s tagline reads: “Delivering the science behind supply chain’s biggest decisions.”  Information Technology

Given all of the ongoing news concerning multi-industry supply chains having to respond to continual global trade and tariff developments, constant shifts in markets to include online commerce, I wanted to acquire a sense of how planners are dealing with such needs.

My first observation came in walking off the elevator during the day one lunch hour and observing a very crowded floor of attendees. This was the largest crowd I have ever observed in a tech conference primarily focused on supply chain network design. LLamasoft executives indicated in excess of 750 attendees at this year’s LLamacon.

Having the opportunity to attend a few sessions, it become more than apparent that supply chain design and network analysts are now incredibly busy with projects, and seek the latest information related to technology developments in this area. It is very important that practitioners can share learning, approaches and best practices, hence the large attendance.  In short, as Sam Israelit, Leader of the Supply Chain Practice Lead at Bain and Company noted in his conference main stage presentation, “Analytics is a very big deal” right now.

Among a few other customer focused sessions, I sat in on, some common themes reflected around:

Reinforcement that there is a definite art and science to effective supply network design analysis and what-if modeling. An overall learning consistently shared is that success is predicated on investing quite a lot of up-front time in educating senior business executives on the concepts and science related to models of supply networks, and what to expect. Without setting proper up-front expectations, planners indicate that “project creep” can enter rather quickly, inhibiting a meaningful analysis, or the risk of tying-up a highly skilled resource on a singular project for quite some time. That, according to planning leaders, restricts that resource from working on other timely analysis needs.

As readers might suspect, supply chain modeling is highly depended on access to meaningful data and information. Two sessions had speakers declaring that today, data accuracy is a non-achievable goal. Instead, attendees were urged to seek out the 80 percent data solution. In other words, precision can take inordinate time away from uncovering important trending and insights as to where challenges and opportunities reside in the overall network.

Supply Chain Matters readers may have noted in either our 2019 Predictions or weekly commentaries highlighting global trade events, that what-if scenario analysis and decision-making is now a key critical capability for supply chain management teams. In a session focused on General Motors activities in this area, Vijay Bharadwaj, Senior Manager, Supply Chain Design, indicated that his teams are incredibly busy at this point performing analysis of the impact of the pending USMCA trade agreement from various business and supply network dimensions. Similarly, are the implications of the ongoing escalated trade and tariff tensions involving China and the United States. He interjected some humor with the indication that the pace is such that his team shares daily speculation as to what will be tomorrow’s project or scenario of the day. As an additional point of reference, GM awarded LLamasoft one of its Supplier of the Year awards.

 

LLamasoft’s Future Direction

In a main stage keynote talk, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Toby Brzoznowski told the audience that digital transformation is racing ahead, and no company is now immune. He further observed that for supply and demand network analysis, information needed for insightful decision-making is never in one spot and instead resides in multiple systems and process areas. Supply Chain Matters has previously highlighted such challenges. That is why LLamasoft’s technology roadmap continues a focus on means for improved data staging, harmonization and integration. This tech provider is further investing in new data architects to develop pre-configured interactive dashboards and reports along with more simplified user tools and solvers to detect trends and patterns and run scenarios faster. That will include leveraging of a Digital Decision Center couple with user abilities to spin-up micro-apps to run faster scenarios.

 

Indeed, my observations and interaction at LLamasoft’s 2019 conference reinforced that advance analytics, either prescriptive, prescriptive or artificial intelligence and machine learning based, are indeed capturing the attention and leveraged use from multi-industry supply chain management teams.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2019, The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.