By Margaret Harrist and Alison Weiss
A record-breaking 3,000 supply chain professionals gathered at Oracle’s Modern Supply Chain Experience, held in San Jose, California, January 29–31, 2018. They were there to learn from leading strategists, developers, partners, and peers about the cutting-edge technologies rapidly transforming supply chain management so companies can thrive in today’s digital economy. Along with keynote speeches, 100-plus breakout sessions gave attendees the chance to see demos and hear about Oracle’s comprehensive supply chain planning cloud solution, gain insights from customers and partners who have modernized supply chain management using Oracle supply chain planning applications, and learn best practices to improve order promising, supply planning, and sales operations planning.
Looking forward, we’ll be adding more adaptive intelligence and machine learning capabilities as well as chatbots and blockchain. This is definitely not your father’s supply chain.”–Oracle Senior Vice President, Applications Development, Rick Jewell
In his keynote at the conference, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd stressed the need for enterprises to embrace modern technology as part of a business strategy to cope with fast-paced industry disruption.
With industry after industry disrupted by wholly new business models, CEOs are under pressure like never before, Hurd said. The technology choices companies have made over the last 25 years to implement and maintain highly customized applications can leave them unable to meet customers’ rising expectations and competitors’ new business approaches.
“The cloud is not just a technical issue,” he noted. “This is bigger than that. It’s generational. You will see a complete change in how IT works, because it’s gotten to the point where the old model is not sustainable.”
Hurd added that more than half of the companies in the Fortune 500 in the year 2000 are now gone—either out of business or acquired. “If you think it couldn’t happen to you, you’re wrong,” he said. “Companies go away in a relatively short period of time. But the cloud offers an opportunity to innovate on someone else’s IT bill.”
Failure to address the constraints of your company’s technology will put your business at a big competitive disadvantage, Hurd said.
In the opening keynote on the first day of the conference, Rick Jewell, senior vice president of applications development at Oracle, also emphasized embracing innovative supply chain practices and technologies—because clinging to the status quo can become a death march in today’s digital economy, Jewell said.
“Half of CEOs say their industries will drastically change in the next three years, but 76% of chief supply chain officers say their digital transformation projects are not aligned,” said Jewell. “Whether that’s due to the siloed nature of their existing systems or the inability of those systems to take on new models and capabilities, or whether it’s a fundamental inability to change processes, it’s not working for many companies.”
According to Jewell, the answer is the adoption of modern processes and technological advances delivered by cloud applications. In the case of Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud (Oracle SCM Cloud), updates that help enterprises keep pace with those technological advances are delivered every quarter.
With offerings that span product lifecycle management, supply chain planning, procurement, logistics, order management, manufacturing, and maintenance, Oracle SCM Cloud now has more than 1,800 customers worldwide. A growing list of cloud-based IoT applications, preintegrated with Oracle SCM Cloud modules, makes it easy for companies of all sizes to get the benefits of IoT without having to hire a team of data scientists.
The cloud is not just a technical issue. This is bigger than that. It’s generational.”–Oracle CEO Mark Hurd
“Looking forward, we’ll be adding more adaptive intelligence and machine learning capabilities as well as chatbots and blockchain—which has promise for, among other things, validating the location and authenticity of goods across the supply chain,” Jewell said. "This is definitely not your father's supply chain."
In a lively keynote discussion with other industry leaders, Maeve Magner, principal at MM Supply Chain Management Advisory Services, observed that organizations need to adopt innovations in a continuous process, driven by continuous improvement. “As you are transforming your supply chain, think about what you’ll look like in five years’ time and the skills you’ll need that you need to start developing now,” Magner said.
Damon Venger, senior director of IT applications at Office Depot, suggested during that same discussion that because change is happening so quickly, it’s impossible to figure everything out. “Now that you can take advantage of new capabilities on a continuous basis, you can change more rapidly than ever before, so you have to change your visionary thinking up,” he said. “You can’t lay out a strategy for the next five years, because by then, everything will be completely different.”
Paul Hawken, environmentalist and executive director of Project Drawdown, offered a broad perspective in his keynote on the importance of innovating supply chain management by honing in on improving the management of the biggest supply chain of them all: planet Earth. Project Drawdown’s focus is to find the best solutions to reverse global warming and climate change.
“You hear rhetoric around climate change—mitigation, reduction, stabilization. Mitigation is to reduce the pain of something,” he said. “But if you’re going over a cliff, slowing down doesn’t change where you’re going. You’ve got to stop and go the other way.”
Hawken said that naming the goal to reverse climate change and expanding the scope beyond traditional approaches enliven creativity and innovation to discover new options.
“What we aim to do is collaborate with scientists and others from all over the world. We have to do this as ‘we,’” he said. “We do all the same things you do, which is we recruit the best scientists and employees possible.”
Today, Project Drawdown calls upon the talents of research fellows from 22 countries across 6 continents, 128 advisors, and 40 outside scientific reviewers. The organization has identified 100 solutions that are being scaled at a rigorous rate to reverse emissions by 2050, including improving indigenous people’s land management and empowering and educating girls and women so they can make better and healthier choices for their families.
Hawken said the notion that we are somehow paralyzed and can’t afford solutions to reverse climate change is blatantly wrong. “It’s the other way around. We need to do these things.”
British logistician and consultant Keith Oliver coins the terms supply chain and supply chain management in an interview in the Financial Times.
Enterprise resource planning systems featuring supply chain management capabilities rapidly gain in popularity.
Oracle expands its Oracle Supply Chain Management solution footprint by acquiring PeopleSoft, Global Logistics Technologies, Demantra, Agile Software, and Siebel.
Oracle launches its comprehensive Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud.
Cloud-based IoT applications are preintegrated with Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud modules, with more adaptive intelligence and machine learning capabilities on the horizon.
He’s excited about Project Drawdown’s continuing work with “coming attractions,” which are new solutions being implemented that have already been scientifically validated—but for which the data is not yet available for assessment by Project Drawdown’s panel of outside scientific reviewers.
“It’s important to understand that humanity is on the case. We’re not asleep,” Hawken said. “There’s tens of thousands of people inventing and creating extraordinary solutions to reverse global warming.”
Want to learn more? See a live demo of Oracle SCM Cloud, and learn how it can help drive innovation and transform your supply chain.
Photography by Oracle Corp.