Tag Archive: business consulting

Robots, IoT, AI, Autonomous Vehicles and More – Update From APICS 2017

October 18th, 2017

Supply Chain Briefing

I’ve been attending APICS 2017 in San Antonio, and there is LOT of talk about the digital transformation of the end-to-end supply chain. I listened to executives from J&J, Cisco, Microsoft, Whole Foods, Caterpillar, and innovative high-tech, rapidly growing companies, and the consensus is: Pay attention to technology. There is an opportunity to learn about the latest technologies such as robots, IoT, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, blockchain and more at APICS Inland Empire‘s executive panel and networking symposium on “Leveraging Technology for Supply Chain Success“. More important than understanding these cutting edge technologies, is thinking about how to apply them for end-to-end supply chain success. Are you taking the time to think about the impacts to your business and your career? Join us on Nov 4th.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

To get the juices flowing in advance of this important industry event, start thinking about the potential impact to your business. For example, IoT has a lot of benefit for predicting machine maintenance needs. However, it can go far beyond this simple use. I’ll dedicate another article to just this topic as the APICS 2017 speaker from Microsoft had several compelling examples which will not only radically change how we perform jobs but it will also radically change the types of people we look for and the background/training that might give an interested candidate an exciting job.

Blockchain can have an enormous impact when considering the increasing need for transparency and risk mitigation with all the security issues that have occurred lately. The potential impact could be enormous for connecting partners and transactions in the end-to-end supply chain in a fast, secure and informed way.

Autonomous vehicles for all intensive purposes are “here”. It will take some time with testing and regulations but there will be interesting impacts when considering some of the issues that plague transportation today. For example, drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours a day; however, an autonomous vehicle could.  What would that mean for the speed and cost of deliveries?

Join us to learn about these technologies and more.

 



My Late Aunt Marge & the Art of Conversation

October 14th, 2017

I've Been Thinking

Last week, my Aunt Marge passed away, one month shy of her 96th birthday. My dad, brother and I went to surprise her for her 90th birthday. She was so very excited to see my dad. Aunt Marge had a gift for the art of conversation and could make mundane topics seem compelling. I remember visiting my aunt and uncle over the years, and my mom was typically deep in conversation with my aunt about all sorts of family members and whatever else was going on. Since I was the only girl, I could sit and participate with them sometimes too, and it was engaging conversation. There are some people with a gift for making everything seem intriguing, and that was my aunt. Who wouldn’t benefit from having that skill?

One tip to implement this week:

Certainly, it can be a challenge to develop the gift of conversation overnight; however, you can make progress. I remember when I first started consulting – I would definitely NOT profess to be any any sort of expert; some might argue I was fairly weak in this area. After all, I was focused on achieving results for my clients and didn’t have any idea how to participate in “small talk”. I should have asked my lovely aunt for advice!

I tried a few networking groups because I knew it was a good idea but I didn’t know how to start a conversation. I distinctly remember one event where I stood around the food line because at least it was a way to not stand all by myself at a “networking event”. Fast-forward several years later and I lead all sorts of groups, am well-known throughout the area, and connect people everyday (and love it). I would have never have suspected that not only would I be able to connect people outside of my specific area of expertise but that I also would enjoy it immensely!

No matter your skill level in conversation, you can improve. Start by focusing on the other person. That alone can go a long way. Be interested. Look for ways to provide value. Find people like my aunt and pay attention to what they do and say – and how they do it. Try their techniques in your own way. Ask for feedback. And last but not least, start telling yourself that you are improving and good at conversation. I distinctly remember that I used to think I wasn’t a good networker until one day when I read or heard advice to stop that. So, I started saying I was good at networking, and it became true. You’ll believe what you tell yourself! I am no ‘Aunt Marge’ yet, but I have my own style.

 



What Do Sears and Amazon Have in Common?

October 10th, 2017

Thanks to my client Dan Vest, I read a fascinating article about Sears and Amazon. Who knew Sears and Amazon had so much in common? Pretty startling! The Reader’s Digest version is as follows: Sears was the former Amazon about 100 years ago, growing 50-fold within a decade with its world-famous catalog and then transforming from a mailing company to a brick-and-mortar giant. They were the everything store with an uncanny feel for consumer demand. Sound familiar? So what might we learn from history and paying attention to trends?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Perhaps Sears isn’t something to be totally ignored… As transformative, customer-focused and growth-oriented as they were 100 years ago, they stopped looking for the next customer-focused innovation and have suffered mightily. Clearly, if you lose track of your customer, you are likely to lose track of your growth and profits. It is also easy to get lost as you get big – suddenly what used to be innovative is replaced with ridiculous rules and bureaucracy with no glance in the direction of the customer. Walmart came on the scene with amazing service and low costs. And now Amazon is the 80 pound gorilla.

There is another interesting development to note. Amazon tends to choose strange bedfellows and has partnered with the brick-and-mortar giant. Amazon will sell smart technology such as the Echo in Sears stores and the Sears flagship Kenmore brand product line will be sold online through Amazon. Unique collaborations seem to be driving success.  Just look at the partnership of innovative Amazon with “not-known-for-its-innovation” United States Postal Service (USPS), yet it works. Do you see postal trucks delivering on Sundays? I do.

In short, pay attention to history, trends and never stop thinking. Add collaboration into the mix and you might just hit a home run.

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I’ve Been Thinking about Competition – Or Are They?

October 6th, 2017

I've Been Thinking

Last week, Kash Gokli (Professor of Manufacturing Practice and Director of the Engineering Clinic at Harvey Mudd) and I led our most recent Harvey Mudd Executive Roundtable on the topic of competition. We created these roundtables to bring Southern California executives together to network and discuss timely topics for organization success. We had a fascinating discussion about two general themes: How to develop a strategy to make you stand out from the crowd so you have no competition AND how to collaborate with your competition for win-win success. In today’s Amazon-impacted, competitive world, it is wise to be thinking about your closest business challengers unless you want to be left in the dust.

Harvey Mudd Executive Roundtable Attendees

One tip to implement this week:

Let’s start by making sure you know your competition. Certainly, as an executive, you’ll be aware of your competitors. The key question is most likely: Could your teams identify the key players? Which competitors are most prevalent in your industry? Now for the clincher – how well can you and your organization describe how you stack up vs. your competition? Start here and really drill down to the details.

Next, let’s move on beyond understanding the competition. Do you understand your vision and whether you are fighting it out on a weekly basis? Or do you have a strategy for how to distinguish yourselves from other businesses such that for all intents and purposes, you have no competition? It’s easier said than done but definitely worth considering.

And let’s not forget collaboration. Almost every attendee could come up with an example of how they were collaborating with a competitor for the “right” situation at the “right” time. Can you find ways to collaborate for win-win success? It might just pay to remember that your relationship network is one of your most valuable assets.

If you liked this article, read more about the importance of cultivating business relationships.

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What is Walmart Doing?

October 5th, 2017

I sat on a panel of experts for Mobility 21’s annual conference titled “Speed to Delivery: Good’s Movement’s High-Tech Future“, addressing the future of transportation. It was a fascinating meeting and panel discussion due to the amazing amount of technology being discussed – and one of the panelists was the Senior Director of Sustainability for Walmart.

Walmart’s focus on speed and the customer is paramount.

Driving the Future of Transportation.

Walmart has come up in several circles lately. One of our clients supports Walmart’s stores, and so we learned quite a lot about their fulfillment processes, demand planning practices and, of course, their new OTIF (on-time-in-full) metrics. We also discussed Walmart service with a 3PL partner, and how Walmart has been making headlines lately in the e-commerce race. It is worth paying attention. Here are a few of the highlights:

  1. The focus on the customer is paramount.
  2. The use of crowd sourcing is gaining steam with the use of Uber and Lyft to deliver from the store.
  3. Who knew but Walmart is testing deliveries with drones as well!
  4. Walmart associates are making deliveries on their way home which is possible with the software that can align deliveries with routes.
  5. They just announced a partnership with August Home Smart Lock to deliver when the customer isn’t at home – and even put groceries in the refrigerator.

It is always a good idea to stay up-to-speed with what the leaders are doing in the industry. Their ideas are not always the ones to follow but they are ALWAYS ones to ponder for application, impact and down-the-line trends. Who do you follow?

 

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on the topic:

Walmart Raising the Supply Chain Metrics Bar 

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