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Entering the room in the London Intercontinental O2 conference center to hear Rick Jewell’s keynote presentation on “Oracle SCM Cloud: Vision and Roadmap” proved to me that Cloud has finally arrived for supply chain. A packed room was there to hear not just about the recent launch of our full portfolio of supply chain products, but also to listen to customers such as RWG and SIG plc explain very coherently about how every customer’s path to the Cloud is different.
The London event was the latest in a series of conferences we are hosting around the world covering arguably the most important technology trend of today: digital transformation. The Modern Supply Chain Experience events in San Jose, Dubai and London welcomed hundreds of supply chain professionals and laid on packed programmes of keynote speeches and customer panels providing much food for thought and painting a clear picture of just how much the supply chain is set to change over the next few years.
In addition to industry experts, there were also speakers from the fields of sport and psychology, whose lessons on leadership and managing organisational change can be easily applied to the supply chain. If you weren’t able to make it along – or if you were and would value a recap – read on for our summary of the five key takeaways from the events…
1. The Cloud has arrived in the supply chain. Until recently the Cloud had been something happening elsewhere in the business. All the signs now point to the fact that Cloud computing is set to have an impact across global supply chains. Feedback from attendees at the event suggested that while many were only just embarking on their journeys to the Cloud, or had yet to finalise a Cloud strategy when it came to supply chain, they are in the process of building one. Rick Jewell, SVP Applications Development at Oracle emphasised that use of the Cloud in supply chains is now a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’, and that businesses need to ensure that when they do decide to migrate to the Cloud they can do so rapidly. This trend is one that Oracle is well aware of and, as a result, supply chain is now a key focus area for our Cloud proposition for customers.
The good news is that the Cloud supports a phased migration through which businesses can avoid the risk, cost and complexity associated with ripping and replacing legacy equipment all in one go.
2. Supply Chain Cloud adoption will happen at varying speeds. Supply chain is still dominated by on-premise solutions, owned by the business and maintained by the IT department. Even with the Cloud offering such transformative benefits to businesses as enabling Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things and connected supply chains, the ubiquity of on-premise solutions means there will be a degree of coexistence for some time. However, we also learned at the event that this is by no means a problem – everyone’s path to the Cloud will be different; whether transformational, incremental or complimentary. The good news is that the Cloud supports a phased migration through which businesses can avoid the risk, cost and complexity associated with ripping and replacing legacy equipment all in one go.
Many attendees hadn’t realized quite how different the look and feel of applications in the Cloud are, nor how quickly they can be provisioned and how easy it can be to share data within the Cloud.
3. The Cloud still surprises people. Maybe it’s because the Cloud is relatively nascent in the supply chain space, but one takeaway that was common across all of the events was just how impressed supply chain managers were by how transformational the Cloud can be. Many attendees hadn’t realized quite how different the look and feel of applications in the Cloud are, nor how quickly they can be provisioned and how easy it can be to share data within the Cloud. As more people from the traditional on-premise environment come to understand the adaptability and intuitive nature of Cloud-based supply chain applications, uptake will no doubt accelerate further.
The supply Chain is all about enabling marginal gains. While Sir Dave Brailsford’s experience is outside of the supply chain space, his ideas gave attendees at the event much to think about.
4. The supply Chain is all about enabling marginal gains. In London, we were lucky enough to be joined by Sir Dave Brailsford, former Team GB cycling coach and general manager of the all-conquering Team Sky. Sir Dave talked about his belief in the aggregation of marginal gains – how small changes over the entirety of a system can be more effective than big changes in just one aspect of it. While Sir Dave’s experience is outside of the supply chain space, his ideas gave attendees at the event much to think about. Historically, from both the software product and the organisational perspectives, we have often looked at individual elements of the supply chain as existing in silos, and therefore tried to optimize each of them in isolation. However, the modern supply chain is truly an end-to-end process, and performance needs to be optimized in a unified way across the entire chain. The Cloud provides visibility of the entire supply chain required to do that, allowing supply chain managers to make changes that can improve the system as a whole rather than just discrete elements of it.
The modern supply chain now encompasses everything from product and service innovation to manufacturing, fulfilment and post-sales service.
5. Customer centricity is key. While much of the day’s programme focused on technology-driven transformation, a presentation by former Sainsbury’s Bank and Eurostar CEO and expert on customer innovation, Hamish Taylor helped put the technology story into its wider context. Hamish reminded attendees about the importance of customer centricity in everything they do, and that when building supply chains they must think not only of their customer, but also their customer’s customer. In the same way, they should think of their supplier, and their supplier’s supplier. Building operations from the customer perspective helps businesses differentiate and encompasses much more than simply a customer-facing website or home-delivery. The modern supply chain now encompasses everything from product and service innovation to manufacturing, fulfilment and post-sales service. As such, customer-centricity should be at the core of supply chain and integral to everything modern business is about.
This year’s events have shown that the Cloud has truly arrived in the supply chain space. It will be interesting to report back next year on how quickly uptake progresses.
Oracle’s next Modern Supply Chain Experience events will take place in Singapore on the 23rd of March and in Munich on the 19th and 20th of April.