Supply Chain Now
Episode 1053

A lot of implementations are based on wrong assumptions, right? It's not only that it's driven from a top-down approach, but it's also based on the process that was developed 20 years ago.

-Anna Linden

Episode Summary

Still planning with Excel spreadsheets? We’ve got a transformation story for you. In this episode, Steven Birgfeld of Blue Diamond Growers (BDG) and Anna Linden of SAP join Greg and Scott to detail how BDG left the spreadsheets behind on their digital transformation journey toward increased visibility and informed decision making. Tune in to hear their thoughts across three phases of transformation: integrated business planning, supply chain, and analytics—and hear their advice for other practitioners ready to dive into the digital in the year ahead.

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:03):

Welcome to Supply Chain. Now the voice of global supply chain Supply chain now focuses on the best in the business for our worldwide audience, the people, the technologies, the best practices, and today’s critical issues, the challenges and opportunities. Stay tuned to hear from Those Making Global Business Happen right here on supply chain now.

Scott Luton (00:32):

Hey, hey. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, Scott Luton and Greg White with you here on Supply Chain. Now welcome to today’s show, Gregory. How are we doing?

Greg White (00:41):

Quite good. How are you doing, Scott?

Scott Luton (00:43):

I am doing wonderful. I’m, I’m, I’ll tell ya, I’m really excited. Don’t

Greg White (00:47):

You love, love it when I open <laugh> like

Scott Luton (00:49):

That. It’s so quick. I’m not used to it. It’s so quick. We’re good. <laugh>. Well, hey, I’m really excited about today’s, uh, discussion. Cause you know, as, as I shared with you and, and the team pre-show, uh, I’ve been enjoying, uh, blue Diamond Growers products, literally for over 40 years, dating back to, uh, having tea and coffee with my grandparents, eating, uh, blue diamond almonds, um, at their house. Those are some special memories. So today we get to see, uh, and, and dive into the case study on digital supply chain transformation behind, uh, such a big and well-known brand with a big emphasis, Greg, on powering visibility and better decision making. Should be a great show, huh?

Greg White (01:28):

Yeah. Fantastic. Uh, I mean, what are you nuts? Of course. It’s gonna be great. <laugh>.

Scott Luton (01:33):

Oh, man,

Greg White (01:35):

You’re welcome.

Scott Luton (01:36):

Oh, I love that. Uh, it’s gonna be a great show and we wanna bring everybody in. Uh, stay tuned. We’d love to hear your feedback throughout, uh, the hour. So for all the folks in, uh, the comments, uh, give us your take on what is is sure to be, uh, a wonderful story here today. Okay. So Greg, with no further ado, I’m gonna go ahead and bring in our two featured guests. Are you ready?

Greg White (01:58):

Do,

Scott Luton (01:58):

Let’s do it. So with no further ado, I wanna welcome in Steve Feld, CIO with Blue Diamond Growers, and Anna Linden, global head of Supply Chain Planning. Hey. Hey, Steve. How are you doing?

Steve Birgfeld (02:10):

I’m doing well, thank you. Appreciate it,

Scott Luton (02:13):

<laugh>. You bet. So good to see it, Anna, how are you

Anna Linden (02:15):

Doing? Even better. Thank you. <laugh>.

Greg White (02:18):

Alright. Oh, wow,

Scott Luton (02:21):

Man, Dan, welcome

Greg White (02:22):

Board. That’s right, <laugh>.

Scott Luton (02:25):

Straight to the point. Keep

Greg White (02:26):

Down the gauntlet immediately. Yeah, exactly. <laugh>.

Scott Luton (02:29):

Well, uh, folks, we are looking forward to a great discussion today and, and diving into, uh, the transformation and all the growth and success at Blue Diamond Growers here in just a second. But before we get there, Greg, we like kind of starting around here with a, a fun warmup question, right? So, today, folks, I learned something new today. Today is more good today day here in the state. So it’s a day that’s meant to encourage folks to practice kindness and generosity. So, with that as a backdrop, uh, Steve, I’ll start with you. What is one recent act of kindness or, uh, that, that, that you’ve witnessed or maybe one of your favorite nonprofits and why?

Steve Birgfeld (03:08):

Yeah. No, I think I’d like to bring up what Blue Diamond does every year. There’s an elementary school near near our campus that for, you know, less advantaged children and things. So every year we do a lot of fundraising for them. We, we had a big block party and we got to do the, the dunk, the dunk thing. So lot, lots of activity there. And then just this week we had a, a nice little Christmas party where we, the children come over and Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus are there, and, and gifts are provided to them all. So, so I really appreciate that every year, <laugh>,

Scott Luton (03:42):

Man. I love that Greg. Sounds like a great time in engaging these kids, right?

Steve Birgfeld (03:46):

Yep. Yep.

Greg White (03:48):

Yeah. Well, and of course they’re gonna love Dunking any adult that they can get the

Steve Birgfeld (03:52):

Opportunity. Well, no, we get to do that. So we get,

Greg White (03:55):

Oh, well,

Scott Luton (03:58):

I see how that works.

Greg White (03:59):

Yeah, it sounds like a heck of a lot of fun.

Scott Luton (04:01):

Well, appreciate, uh, what Blue Diamond does investing in, in, in these local communities. Uh, Anne, I wanna bring you in, uh, favorite act of kindness or maybe a nonprofit you’re a big fan of.

Anna Linden (04:12):

I’ll go for the act of kindness. I went back from the Christmas market last weekend, and, uh, there was an old lady crossing the street with me, and she had her grocery bags, uh, with her. So she went back from grocery shopping and the, the bag ripped in the middle of the street, right? We were just passing, crossing the street. There were like five, six people jumping off the bicycles, making sure all the groceries are safed. Well, not all made it, but most of them did. And, uh, was, uh, nice to see that everyone was very attentive to what, uh, happened to the lady.

Scott Luton (04:40):

Man, I love that. What a great story.

Greg White (04:44):

What is the grocery bags in the middle of the street? That’s why isn’t they always break there.

Anna Linden (04:48):

That that’s true. Yes. <laugh>,

Greg White (04:50):

It feels like it. That’s great to hear

Scott Luton (04:52):

That. Well, I had, I saw someone point out on social media, there’s a, there’s a scene in Home Alone where, um, a colleague Caulkins is, is walking home, he’s got all these groceries and everything collapses on the sidewalk. And someone pointed out that’s the most relatable scene in that entire movie, <laugh>. Uh, but Greg, you’re not getting outta answering this question. What’s one of your favorite acts of kindness or nonprofits out there?

Greg White (05:13):

So, you know, I’m on the board of this McKenna Farms, which is therapy services, not just equine, not just horse therapy, but other types of therapy. But they do Special Olympics every year. And the kids that volunteer to ride along with our clients in the Special Olympics, um, watching that happen is just, it’s really cool. My daughter has gotten a gold medal along with her therapy partner in, in the, uh, special Olympics. And I, I think about that, uh, very often, those kids that, that do that sort of thing. It’s great to see kids helping other kids. So,

Scott Luton (05:49):

Man, I love that McKenna Farms, uh, and appreciate your, your service to helping them reach more folks. Um, okay. Really quick, I’ll say hello to a couple folks. Uh, we got Harris tuned in from India via LinkedIn. Great to see you, uh, Kwan also via LinkedIn. Let us know where you’re tuned in from. Kwan. Hey, Larry Klein is back with us down from, uh, south Georgia. And I gotta say this, I gotta reuse Greg’s, what are you nuts? And, and <laugh>, y’all about heard that as you’re in the green room. I love that.

Greg White (06:17):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Sorry, Steve. I’m sure you hear that a all the time.

Steve Birgfeld (06:19):

<laugh>.

Scott Luton (06:22):

All right. So let’s get down to business then. Um, we’re looking forward to the, uh, today’s, uh, subject matter and the story related. So, uh, Steve, I’ll start with this with you at Anna. Um, what are some of your observations as you surveyed the, the global business environment and industry? What are some of the things you’re seeing out there

Steve Birgfeld (06:37):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>? Well, from a consumer package, good perspective, there’s a, a couple of key key pieces that have hit us these last couple years. So, naturally, COVID had a lot of impact, and then inflation itself. So it has definitely redefined kind of the demand aspects, you know, so definitely needing more flexibility as a business and better planning from that standpoint. And then the other side is on the supply side of things where, um, just between strikes and, and shipment issues, you know, out of, uh, Oakland port and things like that. Just needing more flexibility, better planning on that side of things to really get the product shipped out, you know, across the, across the globe. Um, so those couple items are just really key perspective that have impacted our business and a lot of CPGs in general.

Scott Luton (07:27):

Good stuff there, Steve. And, hey, better plan and can’t do everything, but it sure can do a whole lot. Uh, Anna, what would you add, uh, to observations out in the industry?

Anna Linden (07:35):

Hmm, yeah, what we’ve seen the last years, right? A lot of uncertainties and disruptions. We’ve seen a lot of demand volatility first, then switching over to supply volatility due to, uh, logistics disruptions. And what we see now is with many companies having both at the same time, suddenly, um, and I think this is, uh, becoming more and more challenging. Um, obviously, um, disruptions will not go away as a client, uh, set two weeks ago to me. So everyone is preparing for the next big black swan event. But, uh, I think everyone is very attentive right now as to what is happening, what the risks are, so everyone is very alert, uh, which I think is, uh, great to see that, uh, companies are reacting in the right way here.

Scott Luton (08:14):

Mm. Good stuff there. Anna and Greg. Um, whether something you heard Steve and, and, uh, touch on, or some of what you’re seeing out there, your thoughts?

Greg White (08:22):

Well, you know, disruption is the nature of supply chain, right? I think all of us in this room have always known that, and I think what’s really changed is the awareness of the consumer to that, right? So if, you know, if you’re out of almonds, they know it’s not just target, it’s, it’s maybe a distributor and it’s, you know, obviously gonna have some impact on, on Blue Diamond. So, you know, we have to, we have to be aware that more than just cost is at stake in supply chain these days. Risk is, is at stake, but the, the real risk is your brand equity, how people perceive your ability to deliver on your one promise, which is to get them nuts. So, <laugh>, I mean,

Greg White (09:08):

We have to recognize there’s so much at stake these days because I hate to tell you this, Anna and Steve, but the days of being able to stand alone at a cocktail party just by saying supply chain and having everyone walk away from you, they’re over now. Everybody. It’s like if you’re a meteorologist, they wanna ask you how, how you predict supply chain, just like they asked meteorologist, how do you predict the weather? So, um, it’s, we’re uber aware as consumers now, so it’s, uh, important to recognize that fact as well as all the operational things that Steven Anna talked about.

Scott Luton (09:43):

That’s right. Consumers have maybe never been as smart and as savvy as they are these days. Um, so I wanna shift gears here, and Steven wanna get back as we start to really, uh, dial in on, uh, BD G’S digital supply chain transformation. I wanna start with, uh, you sharing kinda what your vision was for the transformation, and, and maybe a big part of that is what was your why mm-hmm.

Steve Birgfeld (10:04):

<affirmative>? Well, yeah. So even before the, the recent volatility, you know, within our business, we have two main lines of business. One is our branded product, but then is that our other is what we resell to other consumer packaged goods companies selling our almonds to them. So from a demand planning, um, planning in general, demand and supply, you know, we had disparate systems. There were a lot of Excel spreadsheets. It was tough to get a consolidated plan. We couldn’t do a lot of scenario planning from that standpoint. So we were really driving what’s the best solution set to really get this integrated, you know, sole source of the truth from that standpoint. So really taking a hard look at the planning side on the other side from a logistics standpoint to address, you know, that, that aspect of it, it was what can we do to get, remove a lot of manual processes.

Steve Birgfeld (10:57):

You know, we had, we had people going to websites, um, shipper websites to kind of see what the status was of things. So a lot of time to take that, you know, a lot of manual processes. We weren’t able to kinda secure capacity and respond to these impacts quickly enough. So planning, then let’s get the, the piece shipped out from that standpoint. But, so the vision, you know, what we’ve been on a journey for a, a few years now is let’s improve that planning. Let’s lay that foundation with these capabilities from demand planning, supply planning, automating processes, getting the right data elements and visibility in for the corporation, and then really getting that control tower dashboard concept. So, you know, s a p refers to it as extended planning or synchronized planning. That is definitely our vision. And, and, you know, we’ve made great strides towards that so far with the vision to continue, continue that journey.

Scott Luton (11:54):

Man. Steve, uh, uh, Greg, I don’t know about you. I feel like Steve just hit on like 17 things we had been talking about for like a year, maybe two years, right? Um,

Greg White (12:04):

Yeah, I mean, yeah, and it’s, it’s fascinating to see it hit something we perceive as relatively simple, right?

Scott Luton (12:11):

And I, I’ll get your, you know, now that Steve kind of shared that, uh, succinct vision and, and a big part of their why, uh, I love the single source of truth that, that nugget alone, so many folks are after. Your thoughts, Anna, about what drove what, what drove the why here?

Anna Linden (12:24):

I think the why has been driven really by, by the need to really drive HR decisions, right? You need to be able to drive decisions much faster to take them in a synchronized way. That’s where the synchronized planning comes from, right? You need to be able to kind of, uh, yeah, take profitable decisions. Also, you need to keep finance in the loop. You need to be able to execute based on the decisions you’re taking. Um, and maybe as a next step, you also want to automate most of the decisions to really make sure that your planners are being able to focus on what is yeah. Needed from them, right? What are the big ticket items they need to work on? So I think it, Steve, is on a very, very great way, right? We are seeing all the, all the boxes checked, uh, to be successful, uh, when, when, yeah, having really a digital transformation journey, uh, behind you already, uh, to a broad extent, but also a vision to, to move forward. Yeah.

Scott Luton (13:16):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. And we’re gonna go through three specific stages, uh, of the transformation in just a minute. But Greg, uh, a great start, I would say already, huh?

Greg White (13:27):

Yeah. Well, I think we’ve faced, uh, and, and focused toward one of the primary issues around digital transformation. And that is that it does not include spreadsheets, <laugh>, right? Digital transformation is not two spreadsheets. It’s from spreadsheets, <laugh>. And I think, I think, I know, I hate to say that that needs to be said, but, you know, a huge portion of people have spent billions and billions of dollars on supply chain solutions, and yet a large large percentage of them continue to go back to spreadsheets. And, and I think we have to recognize that that technology can and should do that better. We talked about that just yesterday, Scott, right? I mean, when you’re using a spreadsheet, it, it’s, uh, too unaccountable. It’s not connected data, right? It, it has the potential to be manually dis disrupted. That’s the only way I can think of it. And of course, it’s, it’s incredibly out of sync with the timing and the, and the speed with which we need to do business. So, um, for those of you, in case you were wondering, we’re talking well above spreadsheets here. I’m right Steve.

Scott Luton (14:35):

So, hey, folks, a as we, uh, are about to move into the story, everyone in the cheap seats and the comments, we’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on, uh, digital supply chain transformation. And we’ll try to reference those on, on the back half of today’s discussion. But great to have everybody I see, uh, Gino, and I’m all, and Jenny, uh, great to see you there. Um, okay, so Steve, let’s keep driving here and let’s, let’s kinda get more detail on the transformation itself. And I think, um, uh, where we’re gonna start is with that, uh, integrated business planning. Is that right?

Steve Birgfeld (15:04):

Right. Yep. So that, that PORTOR portion, we, we started really in that 2018 timeframe. So we’ve been doing it for a few years now. But like I said, disparate systems, Excel spreadsheets, you know, so we put a real focus on improving that demand. So getting, you know, that one unified vision, a ability to do the, the, um, scenario planning, more efficient time. You know, we had one step that every time they did it ran six hours to kind of get a new scenario. Now that’s into minutes, you know, as one example. Um, the other piece that we’ve done is really improve our, what we needed to keep on inventory. So by, by, you know, where it would be in the, in the US predominantly. So where and how much, and we were able to reduce those inventory levels. And so, again, you know, I think to Greg’s earlier point of getting the nuts to the consumer, um, it was all about focusing on how do we get on time in full to our, our retailers that then can get it to the consumers.

Steve Birgfeld (16:09):

Um, so just, we saw immediate benefits from that. And again, we’ve, we’ve done continuous improvement throughout, just as we learn more as the, the dynamics change. You know, I think another example was with covid where, you know, we were doing things predominantly on a monthly planning cycle. We were seeing things were so dynamic that we had to get it down to a weekly cycle. So, so in a, in a, you know, within a couple months, we were able to re-engineer the, the system to kind of take a, into account for those aspects of it. And then in some cases, even on the supply side, we had to go to daily reviews from that site. So the fact that we had it all now consider, um, consolidate it, we were able to do these scenario plannings and, and the just dynamically quickly. So, so many benefits that we saw for the business.

Scott Luton (16:57):

Uh, sorry, I, I’m stuck on that six hours down to minutes, right? <laugh>, I mean, goodness gracious. Huge gains there. Um, Anna, talk to us about this, this first, uh, segment, uh, where you’re leveraging IB P

Anna Linden (17:09):

Yes. So I mean, technology or modern technology obviously also drives processes, right? And, uh, with speed performance, but also the, the data and the visibility that such an integrated planning process really brings, based on integrated business planning as a solution or not, uh, is really the value add that we see here, right? It’s, uh, it’s, uh, enables companies to really rethink the processes and make them faster, but that enables them also kind of to tackle new challenges, uh, in a, in a much different way. And going down from hours to minutes is just one side effect of that, right? Because it opens up, um, capacity from the planners to tackle new challenges. So, um, it also drives organizational change that we see a lot along the way when integrated business planning as a process and as a solution is, uh, instantiated that people keep, keep thinking about how to change the process now that they have the time to think about it. And maybe also the capacity to really think about optimizing not only intel, the intelligence solutions and the solution landscape and technology, but really also the way people work together and the way, um, people’s skillset needs to be developed in order to, to cope here.

Scott Luton (18:21):

Uh, ver and I love that first part, uh, Anna, uh, you know, freeing up team members to do more and to do new opportunities, tackle new challenges. Greg, that’s one of our favorite parts about, uh, effective digital transformation. Uh, your thoughts, Greg?

Greg White (18:35):

Yeah. Look, computers do computer things so people can do people things, right? I mean, there’s so much that is on both ends of the spectrum, by the way, right? The, we talk a lot about all kinds of automation and technology, the dull, dark, dirty, and dangerous, right? But there’s also intellectual pursuits that are better suited to computers. Not anything a human, well, in some cases, many things a human can’t calculate in their head. But most importantly, being able to calculate that much more rapidly with many more inputs over many more scenarios, and without emotion, without forgetting anything. All of those sorts of things. So that does allow humans to sort of elevate their performance to the, the exceptions, right? Or the difficult situations that require, um, human discernment where there’s just not enough data for technology to make that decision.

Scott Luton (19:27):

Well said. Um, I wanna share a couple quick comments. So as, as Steve and Anna have been sharing some of the, uh, outstanding results from, uh, BD G’S transformation, Larry says, his team developed an analytical team that combines supply data from the many IT systems that we use, developed products used by item managers, that keeps them from having to build their own fill rates. Were averaging 20% and have topped at a recent hive of 88% with averages in the high seventies. Larry, outstanding, uh, and Christine adds, going back to some examples, Steve, and, and we’re, we’re, we’re, uh, referencing, Christine says, moving from month to week is a huge shift and emphasizes a need to automate and direct, uh, focus. Well said there, Christine,

Greg White (20:11):

A day is just off the charts for most people. I mean, most companies don’t even believe they could ever get there, right? But that, that is truly impressive to be able to do that in those multiple tiers, right? Right. That’s incredible responsiveness.

Scott Luton (20:25):

So true. Um, okay, so Steve, getting back, uh, so, so leveraging integrated business planning was that first segment we’re gonna talk about today. The next segment is, Hey, where’s supply chain fit in here? So Steve, tell us more.

Steve Birgfeld (20:39):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, yeah, so we put that focus on demand planning, supply planning. Now we put additional focus on how do we get the product, product to the, to the end, end, uh, end customer. Um, so we focused initially on ocean freight. So from that example, so I guess in 2021, we, we went to S A P S four. So we made that our foundation. We then moved forward on S A P transportation management, which was more embedded into S four, but then we extended it from there. So we did transportation management, we leveraged the s a P logistics Business network, so L B N, and then also had the project 44 visibility aspect of it. So all this was turned on this, this 2022 to improve our ocean freight, um, visibility, automation, those aspects of it. And now we are pr proceeding with the domestic freight for, um, you know, full truckload, less than truckload and rail aspects of it.

Steve Birgfeld (21:38):

So being able to, again, lay that foundation extended a across. So again, some of those examples, you know, where I mentioned before were our team had to go to like 10 different websites to kind of get shipping information and things like that. Now, through this lbn it’s all consolidated. It gives you the best optimized solution for you. Um, so, so again, just that, you know, obtaining our shippers, having the visibility to our customers as to what’s going on, you know, or again, just we’ve started the journey the last few months and we’re, we’re already seeing the benefits from that side.

Scott Luton (22:13):

Steve, I gotta ask you, uh, it sounds a big part of this is making your your team members jobs easier. It sounds like. How appreciative, what have you seen <laugh>, you know, they’re not searching 10 sites, it’s all right there at their fingertips and stuff like that. What are you hearing from your team?

Steve Birgfeld (22:29):

No, again, very appreciative. I, I think this one, we had super teamwork. They were very excited once we kinda showed ’em what the capabilities were, um, what one of the change management was. They weren’t, they weren’t trusting the data at first because it was like, I’m so used to going out to the, to the website and things like that and seeing things in, in different time timeframes. But you know what, what we were seeing, like even with project 44, it was gathering different data sources and layer on an AI component to it to try to get a better fit from that standpoint. So, so you had to get through that, that mental change of, hey, this is better, you know, from that side. But, but again, very appreciative. Um, there were high comments throughout the initiative, and again, you know, we, we just had a, an award ceremony with the C E O a couple days ago, and people were just commenting how, what a great teamwork it was. Oh, that’s great. And you know what, what great insights we’re getting there,

Scott Luton (23:23):

Man. I love to hear that. Uh, and you know, it, it’s, it, some of what you described comes with any big endeavor, right? And loved, uh, the feedback you’re getting from your team. Okay, so Anna, that middle section, uh, transportation management, the logistics business network, and how they leverage all of that. Your comments here, Anna,

Anna Linden (23:39):

Great story, right? So with the business network, you’re really able to go outside of your company and outside of your enterprise and extend the visibility, but also the, yeah. The risk management towards the outside world, right? It’s a, it’s a huge factor in the, in the supply chain world right now, because you will not be able to solve your supply chain issues just with what you have inside your company. So the network, uh, let it be. Now, the logistics business network, also supplier networks, um, and the connection to those and the visibility to the data that is out there is key here. Um, to really be able to, uh, yeah, to, to have a resilient supply chain and to drive, to drive active decision making, right? And it’s a great example with the, with the project 44, which is a pro visibility provider. You’re not only getting the information where my shipment is, but you can also calculate the delay of it so you know, ahead of time that something is delayed, um, because you know, it’s stuck on the ocean. So it’ll not be here for the next six, eight weeks or something, right? It’s not in the very nor near term horizon. So, but in the, in the middle, long term where you can still do something, right? And, uh, this visibility is, is so important for many companies. Cause they actually can take action as a planner when they know about, about, uh, things that are happening on the road or on the ship in this case

Scott Luton (24:53):

Yeah. And <laugh> and, and they can do something about it, uh, with that knowledge and those insights. Greg, I know we’re talking your language, your thoughts on what, uh, Steve and Anna shared.

Greg White (25:03):

Yeah, well, uh, it, it makes me, uh, when you, when you ask the question, Scott, about, uh, did it, were they appreciative? Um, it makes me think about an old adage from the old days of supply chain planning, right? If, if you’re overstocked, it’s your fault. If you’re a planner, if you’re outta stock, it’s your fault. And if something just so happens to go right, it’s, thank God for that sales team. Uh, so I mean, it’s a, it’s a completely thankless job, <laugh>, and the reason that they’re untrusting, as Steve talked about, is because of exactly that, right? We used to have meetings. I called, how did, how did you hurt the company today? Meetings. And it was a review of what had happened yesterday and, and how to avoid that happening. I, Steve, I sounds, it sounds like it might be familiar to you as well, um, but <laugh>, um, but, you know, it’s, it’s a very rough job.

Greg White (25:57):

And so much is outside of your purview, right? You can’t control everything. So being aware of those things like Anna w was talking about, and, and ibp, right? Which is, is including planning for what goes on outside your four walls. That’s very, very important for plant planners to understand and know, because at least if you tell someone something bad is about to happen, not they come to you and say something bad just happened. How did you mess that up? Um, choosing words very carefully. It was not those words when it happened to me, by the way, <laugh>. Um, but <laugh>, if, if you can do that, if you have that, the opportunity to take a preemptive strike is so, so powerful. And it is better not just for the user, of course, not just for the planner, but for the company overall. Still, as Anna talked about, with the ability to adapt on the fly, that is incredibly powerful. Some companies have provisional vendors and things like that where they can fill in if, you know, if there’s a disruption occurring.

Scott Luton (27:04):

Mm-hmm. Um, good stuff there, Greg. Uh, couple quick comments. Uh, so our dear friend Jenny from Wisconsin says, great point, Steve. Change management trust is a huge part of successful digital transformation. Well said, Jenny. Uh, with trust, you can concern

Greg White (27:20):

Certainly much a hundred percent of it. Yeah, I mean, you can do all the work, right? I mean, and we sit in the ivory tower and big conference rooms and planning rooms and all of that sort of thing, but in the end, digital transformation is delivered on the desktop.

Scott Luton (27:33):

Well said, uh, Greg and Jenny, and then Larry says, cause there’s always opportunity, right? There’s always opportunity. Uh, Larry says, it’d be nice to have data more consolidated. Kind of like what, uh, Steve was talking about. Our data comes from at least four different IT systems. We’d be sunk without our data analysts, wouldn’t we all? Uh, Larry, um, okay. Steve, let’s

Greg White (27:53):

Coming from a data analyst, by the way, Larry

Scott Luton (27:56):

<laugh>. That’s right. Uh, Steve, let’s get back to the story here. So I think with the, this third and final segment we’re getting into, well, analytics, what a great segue. So, Steve, tell us more.

Steve Birgfeld (28:07):

Enabling that, you know, through, through what, you know, control towers and dashboards. So, so the where we’re moving forward is just pulling this data into the centralized things, things that the logistics teams will need, what the planning team will need, what, what sales would need from that side. Um, the other piece we’re doing is enabling financial planning and analytics economics of the company. So any changes here would have some, any changes to the, um, planning you can show from a economic standpoint. So moving that way as well, from a fi foundational standpoint. So again, it’s, it’s centralizing this data, like we’ve stated, you know, we’re, we’ve got on our, on our roadmap to start pulling in more production planning data, some of that detailed scheduling. So how production planning will impact demand planning, its applied planning. We’re gonna see where we have opportunities for leveraging AI more. So, so again, the foundation, we’ve got a catalyst for the change. We’re just gathering those data elements.

Scott Luton (29:10):

Anna, uh, tell us, we were talking about the, the third segment being the analytics and control towers, dashboards and the like. Tell us, tell us, uh, what, what took place during this segment?

Anna Linden (29:20):

Yeah, I mean, control towers or anything like combined centers or digital twins, or however you wanna call them, right? Um, are, are really one big aspect of building transparent plants, right? To have the visibility of the data. That’s key aspect, right? Obviously you wanna report based on this, you wanna uncover risks in your data. That’s kind of the key, key challenge that many customers see. You have a lot of data, you need to kind of present them to the planners in a way that it’s consumable, but you also want this data to, to talk to itself, uh, for itself, right? You wanna have data that can alert you ahead of time. You wanna make sure that you have all the data that is needed to steer your company and you wanna present it in the way that, uh, is, um, yeah. Not where, where you can drive knowledgeable decisions based on, right?

Anna Linden (30:08):

So that’s kind of the key aspect of the whole analytics section. What we are seeing is, um, also that these analytics are becoming more and more cross, uh, the planning departments. So we have a lot of planning departments as we know, right? We have the logistics, we have, uh, the transport, we have the ones in the warehouse who are doing planning. We have the classical supply chain, demand planners, supply planners, we have finance planners also, right? And, um, really centralizing all of this information and having the same analytical layer for all of them where they can dig into not only the data that is usually a classically associated to their planning site, let’s call it a planning silo, um, but really look across and say, okay, I can pull in out, uh, information from all the different other aspects, and I can drive decisions with the knowledge about the impact that my decision and my little silo is driving towards the others, right? That’s really the key aspect that we see here. So it’s not only planning and reporting, but it’s really to have, uh, one layer of reporting and analytics to drive profitable decisions throughout the entire value chain.

Scott Luton (31:16):

Yes. Faster, more profitable decisions. All right. So we’re, we’re gonna try to bring in, uh, Steve Feld again, what we’re just left it, and Greg, I’m gonna get you to weigh in here because I think this is definitely a big theme. We’re seeing faster, more profitable decision making. What powers that? Greg, your comments?

Greg White (31:32):

Well, yeah, I mean, it’s not, it’s not just the data, it’s also the presentation of it and what, what you can do with it. So linking that data to solutions, some, the solutions that Steve and Anna have been talking about is critical, right? Data and, and visibility and transparency and all of those other words that we use for that on its own is not enough. It has to be actionable, right? First of all, you know, everybody talks about how they have too much data. So how you parse and sort and present and utilize that data is very, very critical. So those analytics that actually put the user, if the, if the technology can’t make the decision, as we talked about computers, doing computer things, if they can’t make the decision, um, or if a human has to make the decision whether the computer could or could, couldn’t, right? Then we have to present it in a way that enables the user to do that. And I think that’s a critical part of what we’re talking about. And, um, you know, I think that’s, that, that’s part of what Steve was talking about, is the enablement of decision making, the enablement of, of identifying those opportunities to make those faster, right? And more profitable decisions.

Scott Luton (32:42):

S so Steve, uh, your ears may have been burning. We’ve been talking about you a little bit. Uh, so tell us when it comes to that decision making and, and faster and better decision making, uh, what else would you add there?

Steve Birgfeld (32:53):

It’s one, making sure the business kind of understands what actionable insights they need. And, and that has been a challenge for us to really kinda gather that, those requirements from them. So, so there’s that. So what we’ve done is kind of show, showcase some of the options that are available to ’em. So, you know, again, highly recommend that if, if they don’t know what they don’t know, that kind of thing. Like, let’s show them the art of the possible, you know, those kind things. Mm-hmm.

Scott Luton (33:20):

I love that. Mm-hmm. Uh, Anna, it’s very powerful, the art of the possible getting the team bought into, uh, what we’re trying to do and, and how they’re gonna be better off as well as the business being better off really important things when it comes to managing these, these big projects, right?

Anna Linden (33:32):

Yes, definitely. Yes. And also bringing in the human factor here again, right? So really to, to also enable the humans to take or the, the planners to really be confident in what they are seeing and, uh, confident in what they’re deciding on, I think is, is also a key driver here.

Scott Luton (33:50):

Okay. Uh, Greg, before we move into, uh, final thoughts, both with, uh, Steve and Anna, um, what, what, when it comes to, uh, again, empowering humans, uh, driving better decision making, um, building trust, I mean, going back to you and, uh, Jenny’s comments, right? Uh, some of your thoughts here, Greg.

Greg White (34:11):

Yeah. You have to be able to develop that trust. I think we talked about that. Uh, you know, that that is probably the most important thing, but the way that you do it is not by, I think the traditional way, uh, managers have, have, uh, thought of buy-in. It’s basically, in the past, and Annie, I’m sure you’ve experienced this in the past, management at a, at an implementing client will say, we need to accomplish this, and you guys need to buy in to it. The way to do it is to solve the problems that the people on the desktop perceive, right? Those might be small problems, they might be big strategic problems, but again, the key of delivering a digital transformation is remains on the desktop. Um, so far, thankfully, we can’t automate ourselves out of jobs. Some jobs, mostly the jobs people don’t want anyway, but, um, but so far not those deci a lot of those decision making jobs. So buy-in needs to be identifying a problem that empathizes with the, with the condition that your users, your planners, in this case, let’s say, they really feel impedes their progress or, or their progress, and even in trying to meet the company’s goals. And when you do that, and you build consensus by solving those problems, that’s how you get buy-in. Buy-in isn’t forced, right? It, it, it’s, it’s provided by virtue of addressing those issues that are top of mind, you know, the burning platforms that people are struggling with every day.

Scott Luton (35:45):

Well said, Anna, you were gonna say something there, you agree, right?

Anna Linden (35:48):

I agree. And, uh, I also agree that a lot of implementations are based on wrong assumptions, right? Uh, it’s not only that it’s driven, uh, from a top-down approach, but it’s also, uh, based on, on, on the, on the process that was, uh, developed 20 years ago, right? So people in the transformation say, okay, we have the process in place, it’s working, right? And so we just put it on new platform, and then everyone’s happy and everything is more usable. But the fact is that there have been so many workarounds, instantiated in these 20 years that the process is not the process anymore, right? And, um, uh, what many projects that we see fail is that they are not talking to the planners how the actual process and the current is, and not how it’s written down in the handbook from 20 years ago. Um, that’s also a big aspect here, which drives a lot of frustration because the moment you’re implementing such an old process again, which hasn’t been working, but you know, it’s been around, uh, it’s breaking right?

Anna Linden (36:43):

People, it’s, it’s just breaking because you’re taking the workarounds away from the planners, and suddenly the whole whole thing shuts down the moment they have to work according to the standard. So it’s very, very important to, to start as the base and really bring in the people to make sure you are implementing according to how they run the business. And maybe you’ll also optimize that and you find areas of improvement, but really to make sure that you have people on board and also maybe have like lighthouse projects in your company to drive this kind of, uh, transparency and also the, the success, and then other peoples will show will follow.

Scott Luton (37:20):

All right. So Steve, uh, based on lot, a lot of what Anna just shared there, and before we get your final thought and, and final piece of advice to our listeners, um, I, I love the story and I, I love Steve, how you have told the story and, and how humans and team members are front and center speak to, if you would, whether it’s the buy-in or whether it’s, um, you know, being real about how the process works instead of kind of the, uh, the assumptions we all make. See some of your final comments before we get, before we get your final piece of advice.

Steve Birgfeld (37:48):

No, a again, it, it’s exactly what Anna’s stating that lever, you know, it’s a mix of what are those processes, but then leverage the system as well to help redefine those processes. So you really gotta put that right balance in place. Again, folks, folks are used to the way they’ve done it, right? But now there’s new opportunities from, from that side of things. Um, what we’ve done as well is start encouraging where are their, where are their weaknesses and, and opportunities for automation, as another example. So, so again, put this focus on let’s get that foundation in place, let’s get those initial aspects in place, but focus on this continuous improvement as well. So, so never lose sight of that. Mm.

Scott Luton (38:31):

All right. So, uh, so, so much to tell, so little time. But Steve, as we start to wind down, I wanna get you and Anna both to weigh in on some final thoughts. And Steve, I wanna, I wanna, um, you know, folks forget, uh, you know, of what they’ve heard over the last, you know, 45 minutes or so, what’s one key piece of advice that folks need to keep front and center? Steve?

Steve Birgfeld (38:52):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. No, I, I would say, you know, it’s important to understand what your destination is, you know, what that roadmap is, but definitely focus on the journey. You know, get those quick, quick wins, show where the business value is from that side. Um, you know, we, we leverage the agile approach, which is, you know, can I highly recommend in some cases, you know, our team says maybe we over-engineered some things because we were looking out too far ahead from that side of things. So, so again, focus on the quick value and, and what’s that? You know, what, what things you can turn on quickly. The, the data, the process, and the change. You know, you have to make it well defined and well managed from that side of things. And then, like I stated, it’s that focus on, it’s gonna be the journey. There’s gonna be continuous improvement, continuous optimizations, and, and never lose sight of that aspect.

Scott Luton (39:49):

Okay. Was everybody taking notes? Steve? Uh, <laugh>, you’re a great storyteller.

Steve Birgfeld (39:53):

That’s it. That’s it in a nut. That’s, that’s it in a nutshell, right? In a nutshell, right? Yes. No, <laugh>.

Scott Luton (39:59):

Oh man.

Steve Birgfeld (40:00):

<laugh>.

Scott Luton (40:01):

All right. I love it, Steve. I

Steve Birgfeld (40:03):

See what you

Scott Luton (40:03):

Did there. Hey, you’re welcome back anytime, Steve, uh, look forward to, uh, kind of getting the next update from y’all’s continued transformation journey. And, and then we’re gonna ask you how can folks connect with you and your team in just a minute? But before we do, Anna, uh, we’ve covered so much ground today, and it’s tough to, you know, talk about this, uh, critical and successful transformation in a span of, you know, 45 minutes or so. So, with that as a backdrop, what’s one key piece of advice, Anna, that you would share with our listeners that may be either leading or, uh, part of their own transformation?

Anna Linden (40:34):

Yeah, uh, probably that it’s a rote, right? <laugh> that’s never, it’s very winding but never ending. Um, but I think it’s a very good starting point to start with the organizational change management. Uh, then adapt towards like, uh, planning processes, optimize the planning processes, provide the visibility and transparency across the different, uh, silos. And then really invest in intelligence and automation. I think that will be the key of success in the next years, right? Bring in more and more data from the external world, leverage what’s there in technology to really be able to intelligently, yeah, also use this mass, mass amounts of information that are out there and that are very valuable. And then invest in automation and, uh, make sure you’re running your business to the broad, broadest percentage on automated data, right? Because, um, it is possible already today there is a, a percentage where you wanna have a human decision making platform, but, um, I think a broad majority will be automated in the future. And I think that’s the path many companies are moving and investing towards. And I think that’s, uh, a good direction to look at,

Scott Luton (41:42):

Um, uh, content information in just a second. Uh, Andres, as well as Greg’s, uh, final takeaway as well. Jenny says the agile approach, which Steve talked about. It’s great to get quick wins and adapt as business requirements change over time, and she loves the, in a nutshell, Steve, we all do. Alright, so, uh, Greg, um, based on these final reminders and key pieces of advice from Anna and Steve, uh, right on point, really have enjoyed the story. Um, your quick comments, Greg,

Greg White (42:11):

If you have any doubt whether Anna is a planning expert, look at her outfit against her out her backdrop.

Steve Birgfeld (42:18):

<laugh>, I

Greg White (42:19):

Love it. You mean seriously who color coordinates like that? Um, so no, I, I mean that with all seriousness, because I have a feeling that’s kind of how she operates, but, uh, under understand and recognize that you have people that have incredible skills, um, and that enabling them to do their job better is al that is virtually all they want, right? Everyone wants to perform better. And really, that’s all you’re, that’s really all you’re trying to accomplish with a digital transformation is helping your team and your company perform better.

Scott Luton (42:53):

Hmm. So true. Okay. All right. Um, uh, so Steve, Steve Feld, CIO with, uh, blue Diamond Growers, Steve, um, again, love, I know, uh, y’all have a wide variety of products. Uh, I’m, I’m just real partial as I think I share with your pre show, those wasabi flavored almonds. Oh my gosh, I go through those, not by the can, by the bag. Uh, so, uh, y’all keep whatever it takes, he’s

Greg White (43:19):

Trying swag off of you, Steve, right?

Scott Luton (43:22):

Whatever transformation it takes to keep those great things coming. But Steve, uh, <laugh>, how can you, um, uh, how can folks connect with you and Blue Diamond Growers?

Steve Birgfeld (43:31):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. No, I would say, you know, reach out through LinkedIn. You know, I, I am there just by my name, so, you know, happy, happy to message back and forth.

Scott Luton (43:41):

It’s just that easy. And I bet you’ll be getting, uh, lots of requests for advice, maybe some, uh, keynote storytelling, you name it. So I really appreciate your time today, Steve.

Steve Birgfeld (43:51):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, glad to participate. Appreciate it. You bet.

Scott Luton (43:55):

And, uh, of course, you’re joined by Anna, uh, Anna with s sap P um, Anna, how can folks connect with you and all the great things you are doing? Sap?

Anna Linden (44:05):

Yes. Um, I think LinkedIn is a very good channel also, uh, to connect with me. Apart from that, I do have an SAP email address, and I’m the only SA Anna LinkedIn at sap. So <laugh>, you probably know, uh, how, how the email works. So, um, that would be also a great way and, uh, happy to connect and share more information if someone has questions.

Scott Luton (44:25):

Wonderful. That is bold. That is bold. I love that, Anna. Um, alright, well, big thanks again. Steve Feld, CIO with Blue Diamond Growers, and Anna Linden, global head of supply chain planning with sap. Thank you both. Happy holidays and happy New Year. We’ll see you soon.

Steve Birgfeld (44:42):

All right. Thank you again, holidays.

Anna Linden (44:43):

Thank you for having us.

Scott Luton (44:45):

Yep, man, Greg, uh, we needed a, like a three hour show, uh, for that transformation story, but you know, I really appreciated the, um, the three segments they shared, uh, three segments that they shared, and some of those key takeaways that are really applicable, um, applicable regardless of what, um, industry you’re in or sector you’re in, huh?

Greg White (45:05):

Yeah, unquestionably. Um, I mean, there are a few things you have to think about, and they said it, both of them said it in towards the end is, uh, you know, don’t automate your current crappy processes, right? I mean, let’s face it, ERPs get a, they get a bad rap and SAP is the poster child for those bad raps in, in a lot of cases where, as Anna talked about where customers fail. But in o often it is because, and I, I remember 12 2000, sorry, 2000 technology implementations over my lifetime. It is often because precisely that where customers try to force fit their current processes with all these offline and spreadsheet augmentations and, um, you know, process, process adaptations that occur in people’s heads that never get documented to automation. And you can never completely capture that. And it is a, it is a, um, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Greg White (46:02):

There’s no other way around it. Look, you to make these implementations, transformations successful. You have to first begin with the end in mind. What is the goal, right? Worry about the end, not the means, not how you get there, but where you want to get to. Because the professionals that help you implement these technologies and that help you address change management and help you conduct these digital transformations, they know how to get there. And you will though, it’ll be, you know, you may not want to do it. You will get there to toward those goals if you are willing to adapt your processes in, in the process.

Scott Luton (46:38):

<laugh>, I love it.

Greg White (46:41):

Um,

Scott Luton (46:41):

<laugh>,

Greg White (46:42):

You know, and, and the other thing that I think is absolutely critical and very astute for Steve to identify that quick wins, providing those quick wins, that’s what provides buy-in. Going to the people on the desktop and saying, Hey, how could we really maybe really easily make your your job a lot better and a lot more effective? And knowing that everybody wants to do a better job, um, you know, you have, you, you take that, that opportunity where they offer you, if I could accomplish this more easily or more quickly, right? Or at a, at a higher rate of, of, um, perf performance, then my job would be better. If you take those and you get, you make those happen, that’s what creates buy-in. And then long-term, you have to enable excellence and improvement, right? You have to support this as a management team. You have to, uh, chaperone it if you will, or champion it, um, as a management team and realize all the way back to the beginning by beginning with the end in mind that you are driving towards something that benefits the company as a whole and the, and the individuals at their own level as well.

Greg White (47:51):

So if you do those things, then you can avoid the traps of trying to slam fit your bad processes into a brand new shiny technology. Mm-hmm.

Scott Luton (48:03):

So, and hey, it’s not set it and forget it, like our dear friend Ron Pope, there’s no finished line. There’s always opportunity.

Greg White (48:09):

That’s a long and winding road. That’s right. As Hannah said,

Scott Luton (48:11):

<laugh> <laugh>. Well, and, and, and, uh, I love Steve and Anna both talked about engaging, uh, team members. Uh, I loved Anna’s, uh, comments around you gotta talk to your planners in particular, figure out what, how they’re spending their day and, and how they get the business done. So I love how you echo that, uh, a minute ago, Greg. Folks. Hey, by the way, uh, we encourage y’all to connect with both Anna and Steve via, uh, LinkedIn. We’ve got their direct, uh, profile one click away in the comments and really appreciate everybody showing up here today. Uh, Greg, what a great conversation. Thank you for your time here today.

Greg White (48:47):

Thank you. And that was a great discussion. You know, whenever we can talk about this planning and, and how to adapt it to the new world of technology as if it’s a new world, but, you know, <laugh>, um, it, and it is in some cases for some companies, isn’t it? But whenever we can talk about that, man, it’s a blast. I’ve seen the results. It’s so powerful game, not game changing. It’s life changing for a lot of people and for the companies that they work at.

Scott Luton (49:15):

Mm-hmm. Well, hey, uh, big thanks as well to Steve with Blue Diamond Growers and Anna with s a p, uh, make those connections. Big thanks to all the folks at Tune now. I know we couldn’t share all the comments and questions. Uh, big thanks for being here today. Of course, our production team, uh, Amanda, Chantel, Katherine played a whole, uh, the massive team behind making production happen here at Supply Chain. Now, folks, you heard it from us. You heard it from Greg. Hey, these not words take action. There are opportunities out there. Find an expert resource that can help you change your life as Greg put it. And with no further ado, hey Scott, Luton challenged you to do good, to give forward and to be the chains, and we’ll see you next time, right back here at Supply Chain now. Thanks everybody.

Intro/Outro (49:57):

Thanks for being a part of our supply chain Now, community. Check out all of our programming@supplychainnow.com and make sure you subscribe to Supply Chain now, anywhere you listen to podcasts. And follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. See you next time on Supply Chain. Now.

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Featured Guests

Anna Linden is a Supply chain expert with a 15 year experience at SAPs product and solution management. Focusing on topics such as manufacturing, quality management, and supplier collaboration in the early days before finding her professional home in supply chain planning. Has been driving SAPs Integrated Business Planning solution for the past 10 years as a product manager before looking at cross processes and scenarios as part of the broader topic synchronized planning, that looks at planning processes along finance, supply chain, production, logistics, and the business networks. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.

Steve Birgfeld leads the overall strategy, design and implementation of Blue Diamond Growers information technology services, working closely with the business to define solutions that provide value to our growers and our customers. Steve has led strategic efforts of large scale application and infrastructure deployments throughout his career, including successful digital and e-commerce, security, cloud and business analytics solutions. He brings a strong balance of technical, resource and financial management leadership. Steve has been with Blue Diamond since March 2016. Prior to that, Steve has held a variety of Information Technology leadership positions including VP of IT and Workplace Services for Unisys; Chief Information Officer for Hostess Brands and CompuCom; VP of Information Technology for Quaker State; and acting Chief Information Officer for Booz Allen Hamilton. In 2012, Steve was named one of Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leaders. Connect with Steve on LinkedIn.

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

Greg White

Principal & Host

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.

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Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.

She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.

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Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise

When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.

Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.

Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.

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Karin Bursa

Host of TEKTOK

If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.

With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog.  He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community.  Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include CiscoMicrosoft, Citrix and IBM.  Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane UniversityO’Reilly MediaLinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight.  Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems EngineeringCarrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.

He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is a veteran of the US Army and cofounder of the Guam Human Rights Initiative. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.

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Jeff Miller

Host

Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business.  Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.

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Amanda Luton

Chief Marketing Officer

Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM.  When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.

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Billy Taylor

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.

An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.

A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.

A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning.  He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.

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Chantel King

Social Media Manager

My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.

Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.

Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.

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Katherine Hintz

Sales and Marketing Coordinator

Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.

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Ben Harris

Host

Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.

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Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics.  He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.

He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.

A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.

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Alex Bramley

Sales Support Intern

Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.

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