Digital supply chain transformation: real and viable or just tech hype?

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The words “digital transformation” may appear to your colleagues as just the next tech hype. After all, weren’t we all just talking about cloud?

But just like cloud, digital transformation is real and viable — and here to stay.

Sure, but what is digital transformation exactly? There are as many definitions as there are pundits and luminaries. Infor President Duncan Angove talks about it this way: Digital transformation is about closing the gap between what your DIGITAL customers expect and what your ANALOG organisation can actually deliver. The aim of digital transformation is to go beyond merely automating a process or reducing costs, and to differentiate a company in significant ways from its competitors.

“Software and technology is disrupting every industry we look at,” Angove says. Whether it’s Uber in transportation or Airbnb in hostelry, every industry is being disrupted by the application of technology.

“Infor is at an interesting intersection, because we are a software cloud technology company that understands industries. So companies are coming to us, asking how we can help them navigate this digital disruption and take advantage of it.”

Here are just a few examples:

DSW – developing a strategy for a fresh customer experience

Nordstrom – creating a converged commerce experience for customers

Travis Perkins – delivering a variety of strategic, technical, and financial benefits

Fuller’s – deploying cloud software as the basis of a radical business process transformation to drive growth

Echoing these customers, Infor recently hosted groups of executives from the US and Europe to discuss digital transformation. Representing manufacturing, financial services, consumer packaged goods (CPG), retail, and media and entertainment all said their organisations have digital initiatives under way.

Within digital, three common themes emerged: executive leadership is essential; employee skills have to keep pace; and the data deluge must be harnessed into actionable insights. Here is a summary of one of the events.

So, where should your company start? Get inspired here.

 

About our Guest Blogger

Helen Masters
Vice President & Managing Director, Infor South Asia — ANZ & ASEAN

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Helen Masters is Vice President, South Asia – Infor ANZ & ASEAN where she is responsible for the development and promotion of global corporate products and seamless customer experience to augment market presence in the Pacific and ASEAN regions. These comprise Australia & New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.

In her role, Helen maintains new product lines with a focus on customer and partnership management and strategy-setting to grow business in Infor’s key micro-verticals in the South Asia region.

Prior to Infor, Helen was Vice President, Commercial and Emerging Markets, SAP; and Head, Emerging and Transformational Alliances Group, Cisco Systems where she was responsible for the launch of data business solutions.

Helen is a graduate of Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and is also certified in Computer Programming.

Marketing teams are discovering great brand stories in supply chain

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The number of CMOs becoming more knowledgeable and enthusiastic about supply chain management is increasing as leading companies lean on supply chain attributes to position, promote and differentiate products, services and brands.  If you’re a marketer looking for a great story to tell about your company—one that will capture the hearts and minds of a generation of customers—you may need to look no further than your supply chain.

While product marketing and sales teams have always worked with supply chain to balance supply and demand and ensure a positive customer experience, the corporate marketing teams are waking up to the power of supply chain performance.  Supply chain performance is a big deal, a big differentiator, and a game-changer that can dictate the difference between generations of locked-in loyal customers and lost customers for life.

In the past, marketing leaders dug in to supply chain particulars when there was an issue that affected marketing—like a product recall or stockout over the holidays; or an environmental or social issue that might negatively impact the brand; or when there was a risk challenge that required public relations support, like a plant closure, natural disaster or political unrest.

But now, as the supply chain becomes more integral to competitive advantage, profitable growth and sustainable practices, a growing number of CMOs are recognizing that a high-performing supply chain is an important differentiator, and they are incorporating supply chain capabilities into messaging, campaigns, loyalty programs and even events. They are aware of the impact the supply chain can have on their brand—both positive and negative­—and they take proactive measures to protect and promote it.

To the visionary CMO, the supply chain doesn’t run in the background. The supply chain is part of the story. It is part of the customer experience and an ingredient in the brand promise. It’s become a visible component in the marketing mix.

Excellent examples of marketing that weave in supply chain stories abound.  Remember the Ralph Lauren sweaters for the Sochi Winter Olympics? They were the flagship product for Ralph Lauren’s “Made in America” line of apparel for the athletes, rolled out with the story of the Oregon ranchers who raise the sheep and shear the wool, and all the steps in the supply chain required to provide the red, white and blue yarn for the sweaters.  An example of a supply chain inspired marketing event is Amazon Prime Day, when Amazon marketed its Prime subscription service through a rotating lineup of retail specials and same-day shipping that showed off its supply chain supremacy. And there’s the ongoing Jimmy John restaurants’ “Freaky Fast” campaign that’s not just about speedy sandwich delivery, but also embodies an entire corporate culture and its nimble supply chain of fresh ingredients.

Beyond the aforementioned high-visibility examples, there’s the almost endless number of companies offering personalization options (pick your color, add that monogram, design the perfect product just for you!) enabled by supply chain mass customization and make-to-order flexibility. If you’re a marketer and you haven’t been thinking about supply chain, it’s time to start.  Your supply chain is – or could be – a key chapter in your brand story or the attribute that that turns your customers into evangelists.

Is your CMO forging a more strategic relationship with the supply chain organization? If not, can the supply chain manager reach out to marketing to begin such a partnership? How could your firm’s supply chain performance be leveraged as a marketing tool? Weigh in with your thoughts. Read more

 

Meet our guest blogger:

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Jennifer K Daniels
Vice President, Marketing, APICS

Digital transformation that drives progress

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Henry Miller once said “Whatever there be of progress in life comes not through adaptation but through daring.” To a large extent, that holds true in the business world today.

Many companies struggle with processes that can’t keep up with the pace of change, outdated business models, and an inability to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving global market. While adapting to these types of changes may be enough to keep the lights on, rarely does it lead to differentiation. What these companies need is to transform their business in a disruptive way that drives progress. We believe that digital transformation can lead to the kind of progress that can make a difference for a business, its customers, its industry, and the world at large.

But what exactly is “digital transformation”? Chances are you’ve been hearing the phrase bandied about; but you may not know what exactly it means—or why you should care. CIO.com defines digital transformation as “the acceleration of business activities, processes, competencies, and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact in a strategic and prioritised way.” But more than just acceleration, digital transformation is about the need for businesses to outpace digital disruption and stay competitive in a rapidly evolving business environment.

At its core, digital transformation is all about disruption. Whether that disruption is beneficial or devastating depends entirely upon where you find yourself on the wave—at the crest or at the bottom. To embrace digital transformation, you need to make it part of your corporate DNA. You need to start figuring out:

* How to uncover the pockets of innovation in your company—and turn them into opportunities for organisational and go-to-market transformation

* How you can put the structure in place to support digital transformation—and make it sustainable

* How to create a clear digital vision with a strategy for digital transformation

* How to harness data science to drive transformation

* How to position your employees and your organisation to successfully execute a digital transformation strategy

Find help here on how to get started on your own digital transformation.

 

About our Guest Blogger

Helen Masters
Vice President & Managing Director, Infor South Asia — ANZ & ASEAN

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Helen Masters is Vice President, South Asia – Infor ANZ & ASEAN where she is responsible for the development and promotion of global corporate products and seamless customer experience to augment market presence in the Pacific and ASEAN regions. These comprise Australia & New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.

In her role, Helen maintains new product lines with a focus on customer and partnership management and strategy-setting to grow business in Infor’s key micro-verticals in the South Asia region.

Prior to Infor, Helen was Vice President, Commercial and Emerging Markets, SAP; and Head, Emerging and Transformational Alliances Group, Cisco Systems where she was responsible for the launch of data business solutions.

Helen is a graduate of Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and is also certified in Computer Programming.

Tomorrow’s Supply Chains

shaun_tomorrows_supply_chainsIt’s an exciting time to work in the field of supply chain. There’s a sense of change in the air – an awareness of the future unfolding. There are thought leaders who think we’re headed for a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, an era of sustainable, socially conscious enterprises, underpinned by the intelligent interconnection of software and machines. For decision makers along the supply chain, it’s time for research – and for vision.  In many instances, the adoption (or non-adoption) of today’s technologies will determine who thrives and who dies along the supply chains of tomorrow.

Let’s take a look at some of these converging technologies, and consider their application along the supply chain.

The Cloud

For small- to medium-sized businesses, access to the new competitive toolkit is taking place on the Cloud. Even beyond price considerations (which are significant) unlocking the power of nascent technologies makes the adoption of Cloud services a logical step in the evolution of most organizations. There are still good reasons to choose on premise or hybrid solutions, but extending the reach of an ERP to include data external to the company (such as weather, demographics, machine and sensor data), makes better sense on the Cloud.

There are more advantages to the Cloud than are dreamt of in anyone’s philosophy, but to my mind, the Cloud’s ability to facilitate highly collaborative ecosystems is exceptionally powerful. Both responsiveness and efficiency are enhanced by the flow of real-time data, which can help to minimize operational misalignment at the interface of supply chain stages.

Big Data and Advanced Analytics

By 2021 there will be more than 35 zettabytes of online data. For those who haven’t a clue what a zettabyte is (myself included) that’s 35,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes of information. That’s an impressive amount of data, and most of it is unstructured, meaning that before the advent of Big Data it was largely inaccessible to computers. These days, with Big Data analytics programs, all that unstructured data can be collected, organized, and analyzed. This facilitates unprecedented accuracy and clarity of data, opening the door to better planning and decision-making.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

When I think of AI, my mind wanders to Star Trek’s Data, rapidly processing technical information from the Enterprise’s computer, and instantly recommending a course of action. While we’re not quite ready to staff our distribution centres with androids, the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence will have enormous benefits along the supply chain. AI-driven ‘chatbots’ are already improving the User Experience for customers of shipping companies, making it  easier to find store locations, determine shipping rates and track packages.

AI can draw insight from enormous data sets. That promises more accurate forecasting and lower market mediation costs (fewer stock-outs and mark-downs) – a major profit eater for innovative product manufacturers. Unprecedented control over data will allow for fine tuning, helping to tighten up end-to-end visibility, time-to-market, and overall agility. AI can also serve as a bridge between supply chains, facilitating a seamless flow of transactions. Of course, the most visible manifestation of AI, along with chatbots, will be fleets of autonomous delivery vehicles.

Robots & Cobots

Industrial robots are nothing new, but their presence along the supply chain is growing. When material handling is better handed off to a machine, especially in dangerous situations, or when precision is required, benefits in efficiency, responsiveness and safety naturally accrue.

What I find particularly interesting is the movement towards ‘cobots’, smaller, less expensive, more flexible robots that work side-by-side with humans. Cobots are becoming popular for pick and place, palletizing, and packaging. They will doubtless lead to significant reductions in turnaround times, and create increasingly responsive supply chains.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things, sometimes referred to as the driver of Industry 4.0, ties together people, processes, data, and things, via a burgeoning universe of devices and sensors. Unlike older, ‘passive’ generations of sensors, IoT sensors are active. A connected pallet for example, can relay information on its whereabouts and condition. A connected machine can allow remote technicians to run diagnostics and initiate repair options, resulting in increased uptime and improved customer service. Importing data from IoT devices to an analytics platform will allow, for example, unprecedented stock control and precise inventory monitoring.

When it comes to transportation, IoT systems are already in use, optimizing fleet efficiencies through route planning, directing drivers to avoid traffic jams, maintaining temperatures for perishable goods,  and helping carriers reduce ‘deadheads’ (the time trucks run without cargo). In addition, IoT technologies such as RFID provide the ability to track products throughout the global supply chain.

Some of the most powerful uses of the IoT are in the area of customer behavior. In-store sensors can track traffic and shopping patterns to yield clear insights into consumer behaviour, improving brand engagement and increasing sales. This depth of intelligence into supply and demand will benefit everyone along the supply chain.

There are, of course, more technologies to talk about than can fit in a single blog. In my next offering, aimed to coincide with the release of SYSPRO Harmony, I’ll talk about Social Media, and the exciting new possibilities that are opening up for problem solving and collaboration along the supply chain.

About our Guest Blogger
Shaun Butler

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Shaun Butler is the Regional CEO of SYSPRO Asia Pacific, having joined SYSPRO in 2003. Whilst Shaun is based in Singapore he spends a reasonable amount of time travelling throughout the rest of the region

Having spent more than 20 years in and around various ERP companies Shaun has found it refreshing to work in the SYSPRO environment, with long term employees who are committed and passionate about a single product.

Shaun’s role is broad and varied but in short he is responsible for the growth and strategic direction of SYSPRO across Asia and the Pacific. He is extremely proud of the company and the team SYSPRO has built, supported by the many customers who place their trust in SYSPRO’s solution and capability.

 

Digital supply chain transformation and customer-centricity

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Turning a digital business strategy into a reality remains elusive for many organizations. Even businesses that are forward thinking and have already begun developing a digital transformation strategy will find new gaps to fill and new challenges to address that didn’t exist last year in the areas of new regulations, new trade policies, and new customer demands, to name a few.

As a result, many businesses are recognizing that digitization is not only about improving business processes or automation. Digital transformation is about redefining business. It’s about wrapping services around products, or going a step further, replacing products with services.

Cloud technology is a catalyst to new business models, with data, digitization, and networks serving as the underlying core. When this is applied to a supply chain — where hundreds of people and parties impact the order, production, and delivery of goods — it spawns new ways for businesses to service customers.

Supply chains are rife with inefficiency, bottlenecks, and information silos. They tend to be set up as long, winding linear trails of business transactions. Data and visibility remain bottled up in each trading partner organization. This fragmented landscape has become inadequate in today’s world of always-on commerce and ultra-demanding customers. On the surface, there is low-hanging fruit in digitization of processes such as order management or supplier collaboration. But digital transformation possibilities run much deeper, into the foundational infrastructure of business-to-business commerce, where a network approach to business can deliver massive returns by finding new ways to deliver value to customers.

Transforming entire industry supply chains

Digital transformation is a broad term being probed and defined in multiple ways. In some industries, such as automotive, the movement is not so subtle — and more of a change locomotive. Disruptive factors such as connected cars and autonomous vehicles are reshaping the industry. The transformational vision for automotive companies is a new ecosystem of suppliers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), dealers, and complementary services that enable new customer experiences and products to be delivered.

The industry is well on its way. Major players like Ford are investing heavily in technology. Ford just raised $2.8 billion to drive new innovation. The company has already committed to spending $4.5 billion to bolster a lineup of electric cars, with plans to release a fully autonomous car in 2021. The ability to integrate new innovations, technologies, and suppliers into the automotive ecosystem will be key to excelling in the future.

In retail, digital disruption is being spurred by immense pressure from consumers. And similar to auto, where outsiders like Uber and Tesla bring disruption, retail has been upended by the Amazons and Alibabas of the world. Consumers are accustomed to Walmart-like low costs and Amazonian convenience and delivery. As a result, retailers across all segments are being forced to be hyper-sensitive to consumers’ needs and wants. But competing with Amazon on delivery services while offering competitive pricing comes at a cost — to profitability.

Retailers recognize the need to transform how they order, produce, and deliver goods to be customer centric in new ways, while remaining profitable. New experiences and services are essential. Consider how retail is already evolving and leading to supply chain transformation. Some of the growing trends in shopping today include social shopping, pop-up stores, mobile commerce combined with trucks and vans, click-and-collect, personal shoppers, subscription-based shopping …

In-store, retailers are innovating as well. Ralph Lauren has introduced interactive touch-screen mirrors in its fitting rooms. IKEA has deployed virtual reality to allow shoppers to envision new rooms in their home. West Elm, a furniture provider owned by Williams Sonoma, has announced plans to open five hotels, which will act as showrooms where consumers can purchase goods.

Under pressure from nontraditional competitors and demanding consumers, the future supply chain relies on a network of manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers built around the customer to deliver new experiences, services and value.

2017 will sharpen focus on customer-centric commerce

The bounds of traditional business are being stretched. In 2017, we’ll see technology trends that go deeper into the reshaping of business models and further redefine industries.

Automotive companies are evolving into transportation service providers. Competition from non-traditional players raises the bar on technology and connectivity, forcing automakers to find new suppliers and partners that can deliver tech savvy innovation.

Retailers are evolving to deliver new forms of experience to the consumer. Competition from beyond the traditional industry is forcing retailers to get closer to customers through fast or free shipping, free and simple return programs, customized goods, and seamless order fulfillment from any shopping channel.

Consumer product brands like Tide are getting into homes with their detergent pods; consumers push a button from their laundry room to place an order. This bypasses the retailer and goes direct to the consumer.

In 2017, questions such as “What defines a true automotive company?” or “What defines a true retailer or consumer product company?” will have to be examined and redefined.

At the centre, of course, is the customer. Customers expect and demand more. Delivering on these expectations and fulfilling orders requires manufacturers and retailers to rewire the way they produce and deliver goods to their customers.

2017 looks to be a year of uncertainty and change. Social, technological, environmental, and political disruption will have massive impacts on commerce and supply chains. For businesses operating in nearly any industry, this means more pitfalls and challenges, accompanied by more pressing demands from customers. Companies and trading partners that fail to adapt are at risk.

Supply chains of the near future will have to operate as customer-centric networks. This should be the end state, or vision. Getting there requires a long road, starting with digital transformation.

 

About our Guest Blogger

Helen Masters
Vice President & Managing Director, Infor South Asia — ANZ & ASEAN

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Helen Masters is Vice President, South Asia – Infor ANZ & ASEAN where she is responsible for the development and promotion of global corporate products and seamless customer experience to augment market presence in the Pacific and ASEAN regions. These comprise Australia & New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.

In her role, Helen maintains new product lines with a focus on customer and partnership management and strategy-setting to grow business in Infor’s key micro-verticals in the South Asia region.

Prior to Infor, Helen was Vice President, Commercial and Emerging Markets, SAP; and Head, Emerging and Transformational Alliances Group, Cisco Systems where she was responsible for the launch of data business solutions.

Helen is a graduate of Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and is also certified in Computer Programming.

5 Benefits to learning via Virtual Classrooms

The future of education is content delivered via virtual classrooms, especially in Australia where the tyranny of distance and increased traffic congestion hinder the opportunities to learn in residential classrooms.  These virtual classrooms are held online where participates can communicate, view presentations and interact with facilitators and peers.  To sum it all up, virtual classrooms are very similar to traditional classrooms, where the teaching is still the same but it is delivered in a convenient format.

So, how can individuals benefit from these virtual classrooms?

  1. It is flexible, you can stay at your work desk and log on for a few hours.  You can participate in the lesson via a laptop, PC or tablet/iPad.  With just a few hours duration needed at a time for a virtual class, students do not have to take out a whole day for learning.  This benefits employers as well, as they avoid roster shuffling and extra staffing.
  2. Chat boxes and polls will be available during the class to allow students to interact as they would in a residential classroom.  Polls allow for facilitators to gauge the knowledge and understanding of the class.
  3. Similar to a traditional classroom, the facilitator is in control of the style of content delivery.  They are able to mute and un-mute students.  The facilitators can chose when question time is or when students can be interactive.  This gives the feel of the familiarity of a traditional classroom where the facilitator runs how the content is delivered.   As well as, gives the opportunity for students to share their stories.
  4. It allows participants to learn and be able to immediately applying what they learn to their job, while it is fresh on their mind.
  5. No cancellations – there are no limitations to numbers.

We hope these 5 benefits of virtual classrooms have given you a better understanding of the concept.

apicsAU has designed a series of Summer Virtual Classrooms which have been developed from the Best of the Best short course offerings from 2016.   View our summer virtual classes at: http://us12.campaign-archive2.com/?u=9b12daa3124e6a910a9170caa&id=e277b0c905

Special offer! – Register for three or more short courses and receive 20% off.

Do not forgot our early bird discount offer.  Register before 21 December 2016 to receive $50 off short courses and $100 off certifications. – http://us12.campaign-archive2.com/?u=9b12daa3124e6a910a9170caa&id=f5e4f82cdf

Is your business disruption ready?

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A technological storm is brewing, one that has many different names. The Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Cyber Physical Supply Chain. Industry 4.0. The Age of Disruption. The Digital Age.

Whatever name you prefer, the concept behind them all is the same; we are facing a wave of change driven by innovations in robotics, autonomous vehicles, additive manufacturing, smart machines, e-commerce, big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning and cognitive computing. Machines are becoming smarter. Jobs are becoming automated. Management is becoming outdated.

It is poised to affect the entire end-to-end supply chain. It’s impacting every area from digging stuff out of the ground, through to the factory, the warehouse and now the transportation of goods. Your children are unlikely to do the same job you did. In fact, the entire concept of a job for life, even just a career, is something that may soon be a relic of the past.

It’s a winner take all model. For those winners, the spoils will be enormous, concentrating great power into the hands of a small group of technology driven organisations. Unlike the First Industrial Revolution, which benefited people both as participants in the production and consumption of goods, this time round the greatest beneficiaries will be those with capital; the shareholders. The benefits to ordinary people will be limited to that of a consumer.

To demonstrate how big this shift is, according to a 2014 estimate, the three leading companies of Silicon Valley had a combined market capitalisation of $1.09 trillion and employed 137,000. Just twenty-five years earlier, in 1990, the three largest companies in Detroit had a market capitalisation of $36 billion – but they also collectively employed about 1.2 million workers. The trickle down model seems to have stopped trickling.

So while the World Wide Web provides many things for free, such as knowledge, many workers are seeing their traditional skills become redundant by new computer technologies and the new employment opportunities have mainly been created for highly skilled workers. The scary point is, we are only at the very start of this economic and social transformation. By 2025 autonomous vehicles –cars, lorries, drones – will be commonplace, replacing the multitude of driving jobs currently carried out by people. In the US alone there are 8.7 million trucking-related jobs, and approximately 1 million car drivers (180,000 taxi drivers, 160,000 Uber drivers, 500,000 school bus drivers, and 160,000 transit bus drivers). Very few of these will have a job moving forwards.

The transformation will affect more than blue collar workers; the nature of occupations and whole industries is changing. Technology is enabling not just the automation of repetitive tasks but also cognitive tasks involving subtle and non-routine judgment. All the signs indicate that we are entering a period of disruptive change of a scale not seen since we decided to put down our pitchforks, stop living an agricultural existence and head for the cities to become part of an industrial society.

Companies like Amazon, who have a clear vision as to how these technologies can aid their mission to dominate the world of retail, are mercilessly pushing their virtuous cycle of innovation, changing the way we buy goods, and our expectations around when and how they are delivered. They envision an end-to-end value chain dominated by platforms that they are in control of, a model where the consumer only has to say out loud what they want, and behind the scenes a fully automated global supply kicks into gear to provide your goods within hours.

The days of mass production are now over. The future supply chain will be personal, automated and local. The question is – are you ready?

To find out the answer to this, and to learn more about the nature of this new wave of creative destruction, be sure to attend my full day workshop on Disruption in the Supply Chain.

During the day we will explore the nature of the changes currently underway, how they will affect your business, what companies like Amazon are doing with these technologies to ensure they orchestrate the whole international supply chain, and how companies need to change their mindsets and organisational structures in order to adapt to this new world.

Learn how to not just survive, but thrive during this time of disruption.

About our Guest Blogger

Sean Culey

Member of the European Leadership Team of the APICS Supply Chain Council SCOR-P, FCILT, is a recognised strategic advisor, business transformation expert, keynote speaker and author focusing on helping companies develop compelling value propositions and strategies that get executed. Previously CEO of SEVEN, Sean has 25 years of global experience across numerous verticals, and is also CMO for an international software company. Sean will be delivering a series of workshops on the impact of disruptive innovations on business across the Asia Pacific region in November 2016, and his first book; Transition Point: Revolution, Evolution or Endgame? is due in 2017.

http://www.supplychaindisruption.com

It’s a great day for a supply chain grant

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A facilitator for the Federal Government Entrepreneur’s Programme painted an attractive picture today for companies looking to make their supply chain more productive and competitive.

Mike Goodman Podcast interview, Mike Goodman confirmed that a $400K improvement program is a potential scenario for buyers who can rally up 10 small to medium (SME)suppliers willing to match a $20K grant dollar for dollar. That buyer doesn’t have to be an Australian company either.

Mike is contractor by the NSW Business Chamber to deliver government-funded supply chain improvement projects, provided at no financial cost to buyers and their Australian SME suppliers.

The Federal Government Entrepreneur’s Programme is a national initiative that aims to grow the Australian economy by making SMEs more productive and competitive. The service has been running since mid last year (loosely based on a similar, very successful program that had been running for 5 years or so). Over the past 7 years, Mike and his colleagues have helped thousands of SMEs improve their business.

The program offers four key areas of support:

  • Strategic Business Evaluations – A business adviser works with an SME owner to assess the company, its aspirations and key challenges. The adviser provides a detailed report and action plan, along with access to a $20K (dollar-for-dollar) grant. Some businesses can get further ongoing support and access to an additional grant further down the track.
  • Innovation Connections – A facilitator provides SMEs with free advice and potential access to grants for research activities that solve technical challenges or help with new commercial opportunities (a $50K dollar-for-dollar grant, with potential for an additional $50K after the initial study is performed)
  • Accelerating Commercialisation – advisers provide guidance and access to grants to help commercialise new ideas, products and services
  • Supply Chain Facilitation – (detailed below) these include a $20K dollar-for-dollar grant for eligible SME suppliers

Under the Supply Chain Facilitation services, Mike and his team spread throughout Australia work with Buyers to explore and identify areas where they might be able to drive improvements with their suppliers , then work with eligible SME suppliers to assess their business and recommend improvements. This could be resolving operational issues, or more strategic, such as building supply chain capability for a new export growth opportunity.

Part of the improvement program could be training staff to more closely align with business requirements. In a previous blog we outline the funding available to assist suppliers to train their people under the Industry Skills Fund.

For more information, contact Mike Goodman on 0405 337 306.

 

 

 

 

 

What do lean and seat belts have in common?

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The fundamental change that has occurred in the wearing of seat belts has been used as an analogy to describe the lasting change that is required for a successful lean transformation.

This analogy was shared in today’s apicsAU webinar Deploying, consolidating and Sustaining a Lean Transformation by guest presenter James Hildebrand.

Today, even pets travel safely within the restraints of custom-built seat belts in cars.

James says that the approaches society has taken to bring about the successful seat belt-wearing transformation should be used by organisations who want to implement lean and achieve world class efficiency.

Transformation is also achievable through the professional development of our people.

To help you create a baseline knowledge of lean within your organisation, we’ve drawn from the APICS Body of Knowledge to identify 10 things your organisation needs to know about lean inventory:

  1. The concepts of just in time and lean, and how they apply to the management of inventories
  2. Why implementing lean and lean structure is important
  3. The three major sources of operations waste
  4. The difference between value-added work and waste
  5. How to manage inventory effectively in a lean environment
  6. How to explore the lean inventory flow analogy
  7. The impact of inventory reduction
  8. Lean pull-system basics
  9. How to calculate the number and work with kanbans/containers
  10. How to review the calculation of production, move and supplier kanbans

These ten points are also the learning objectives of a popular corporate training session within the APICS Principles of Operation Management Series. APICS qualified facilitators are provided to facilitate discussion and learning of lean inventory theory and practice. Customisable training sessions are available, based on the skills gaps within your supply chain team. Check out our free Supply Chain Competency Model launched in our blog last month.

apicsAU’s Regional Symposiums Navigating Your Supply Chain Into The Future are now short executive breakfast sessions to allow for you to invite your organisation’s decision makers to participate in supply chain issues which will, in turn, accelerate approval for your team’s professional development.

Seat belts on and let’s go!

The 7 Tests of True Mastery

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It appears we have never had so many experts roaming the planet than in our modern age. As I trawl through the LinkedIn profiles of my contacts, everyone it seems is a ‘specialist’, ‘sought-after authority’ or ‘expert’ at something – some even manage to specialize in pretty much everything!

Naturally, this is part of the necessary game of personal branding – one which I myself feel compelled to play to an ever-increasing extent (my own LinkedIn bio copy is evidence enough of this).

And yet I was recently reflecting on the notion of mastery. Not mastery in the more modern marketing form but in the traditional ‘master and apprentice’ sense. What are the tell-tale sign that someone has been around the block enough times and derived enough experience and skill to truly be a master at something.

Some would say that mastery is merely a function of time. For instance, Malcolm Gladwell is often credited for coining the 10,000 hour test which suggests that you have to do something for 10,000 hours before you are truly an expert. While this certainly has the ring of common sense about it, I can’t help but wonder if simply using time to determine mastery is a bit limited. After all, I know lots of people who are highly experienced but are neither experts or masters.

Reflecting on the many individuals in my sphere who, in my view, have truly achieved a level of mastery in their given field, there are 7 the characteristics that are common to them all:

1. They are rarely surprised – there is a positive sense that the truly experienced “have seen it all before” and therefore can remain calm, clear-headed and confident when the exceptional occurs

2. Their skills are not circumstantial – in other words masters are adept and comfortable in a wide variety of situations and contexts because their skill and expertise is second nature

3. They move beyond rhetoric and long-windedness – Paradoxically, I often find that it is people who use the most complex language who know least about a topic of body of knowledge. Those with superficial or merely academic understanding tend to find intellectual security in rhetoric and jargon. In contrast, those who truly understand a topic tend to use language that is refreshingly simple and concise. As Albert Einstein said, If you can’t explain it to an 6-year old, you don’t understand it yourself.

4. They have added to knowledge – rather than simply consuming or re-hashing existing knowledge and insight, true experts get to a point where they create and contribute new knowledge

5. They are constructively contrarian – Anyone can throw stones and attack another’s views but true experts can offer a contrary view without any need to be either aggressive or defensive. The goal becomes to improve the quality of thought rather than to score points

6. They are humble and open – True mastery engenders a wonderful humility, openness and a hunger to constantly grow and learn. In contrast, those with limited skill, knowledge or expertise often have the most rigid views and firm opinions. There appears to be something about the road to true mastery that wears away hard edges and dissolves arrogance.

7. They actively seek to apprentice others – Finally, I see time and time again that a key mark of mastery is the innate drive to invest in and mentor the next generation. There seems to come a point where the goal for those with mastery is not to simply build their own success but share what they have learned with those coming behind them – just as someone had likely done with them at some stage. This desire to leave a leave a legacy and pass on a heritage of skill and knowledge is perhaps one of the most powerful dynamics to witness – when an expert becomes an elder.

I don’t know if you find the above list as challenging as I do. As I draw closer to my mid-30s, I am increasingly aware of the tendency for age and experience to ossify my views, dim my optimism and even breed selfishness.

Bearing this in mind, I for one am committed to pursuing mastery in the true sense of that word. I don’t want to merely be experienced, I want to become an expert: secure in my convictions but ever-curious, open and looking to share and serve.

How about you?
michael mcqueen
Michael McQueen is our guest blogger.
Speaker | Author | President at Professional Speakers Australia – PSA | Leadership Coach | Social Researcher