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This posting continues highlights of the Kinexions 2011 conference being held this week in Scottsdale Arizona.  Readers can also reference our prior Dispatch One and Dispatch Two commentaries  which highlight day one activities.

Day two of Kinexions kicked off with an uncensored presentation from former Gartner Vice President and supply chain sage Kevin O’Marah, who now characterizes himself as an independent thinker.  Kevin reflected on the history of business automation and innovation, the important trends that productivity and talent have brought to businesses large and small and his belief that large ERP vendors are not delivering the innovation required to enable the next era of business and supply chain process capabilities. Kevin referenced multiple survey data that reinforces that demand volatility is driving executives and supply chains literally crazy, and that the community needs to get ahead of these new realities of business. Kevin described the new wave as being led by human intelligence but with technology leverage.  Kevin was also kind enough to acknowledge our working relationship in the earlier days of AMR Research and I sincerely thank Kevin for the mention.

Day two customer presentations featured Lalit Pandit, the CIO of D&M Holdings, and Joe McBeth, Vice President of Global Supply Chain at Jabil, and Erwin Hermans, Vice President of Supply Chain Solutions, Celestica.  One of the extraordinary aspects of attending a Kinexions conference is that the audience can get perspectives from the key players located throughout many tiers of today’s global supply chain. The D&M Holdings story is one of a mid-market company that needed to transform its supply chain utilizing a planning and response management application that users could quickly adopt and leverage.  It is also an example of how a cloud offering is an important option for mid-market companies.

While there were many nuggets of information shared by all of today’s presenters, my personal favorite was Jim McBeth, who vividly expressed what supply chain response management really means for companies, and especially contract manufacturers. Jim reflected on the recent March earthquake involving northern Japan, and more recently, the devastating floods impacting Thailand.  Each had supply chain disruption implications, and as Jim best described it, “the guy who was the best information, wins”. In 48 hours, Jabil was able to provide risk assessments and impact analysis for its OEM customers and key suppliers. Jim noted that most organizations, consultants and pundits speak to constantly keeping inventory down, when the reality may be keeping partners in balance and inventory right-sized to buffer identified areas of component risk. Jim also spoke to the reality of planning at the EMS level, the mid-tier of high tech value chains when the bigger fish OEM’s will get the prime priority for available inventory and capacity. The reality turns out to be the ability to plan with predictive data, to proactively collaborate with OEM’s along with the ability to predict what requirements will be before the bigger players do the same.

This afternoon’s closing event was an interactive influencer’s panel discussion moderated by Trevor Miles of Kinaxis, which I was honored to be Bob Ferrari Supply Chain Panel Speakerinvited to participate.  Fellow panelists were Andy Coldrick, one of the original thought leaders in S&OP, Russell Goodman, editor-in-chief, SupplyChainBrain, and Predrang (PJ) Jakovljevic of Technology Evaluation Center.  Our goal was to wrap-up the conference by summarizing what we heard from customers and influencers, how we viewed the current state of  supply chain business process and technology innovation, and the notion of what is the state of collaboration in supply chains. A eureka moment came from an interchange of what comes next for S&OP?  Andy provided the perspective that as the originators of S&OP discussed what would be the next iterations, they also could not agree to terminology.  Andy’s charge to the audience, it doesn’t matter how you term the next iteration, what matters more is the objective your organization is seeking. Wise words from an original thought leader.

Supply Chain Matters will feature two additional Kinexions commentaries, one reflecting on this year’s briefing of key market influencers, and our conference summary impressions.

Bob Ferrari

Added Note: Kinaxis is one of other named sponsors of the Supply Chain Matters blog and the author provides services to this vendor.