Supply Chain Now
Episode 812

We wanted our employees to focus on the higher-order work, not the manual things. It's a shift in the working mindset to say to an employee, “You are going to make strategic decisions and let do the machine do what it does really well: go over vast amounts of data and give you a recommendation.”

- Venkat Gopalan, Chief Digital Officer, Belcorp

Episode Summary

We are truly living in a time of experiences, where customer demand and preferences have to be reflected far beyond the point of sale, stretching far into the supply chain. This has driven an innovation boom in the retail industry, as people start to emerge from their homes but don’t want to lose the digital conveniences they have gotten used to over the last couple of years.

Shan Muthuvelu is the CEO of UCBOS, no code supply chain cloud software, and Venkat Gopalan is the Chief Digital Officer at Belcorp, a direct sales beauty company. In order for Belcorp to expand beyond direct sales and put their product in bricks and mortar retail locations, they have to be able to integrate their supply chain data with that of their partners and keep it up to date in real time. They need AI-enabled instant visibility.

In this interview, Shan and Venkat speak with co-hosts Allison Giddens and Scott Luton about:

  • The data retailers need to help their businesses react quickly and meet the high expectations of today’s customer
  • The power of a ‘DULDM’ – a dynamic unified logical data model – in cases where people in different supply chains want to collaborate or integrate
  • How omnichannel fulfillment has to be allowed to change retailers’ business models so that consumers are not negatively impacted

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:00:03):

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 (00:00:31):

Hey, good morning everybody. Scott Luton and Allison Giddens here with you on Supply Chain Now. Welcome to today’s show. Allison, how are we doing this afternoon?

Allison Giddens (00:00:40):

Hey, I’m good. I’m good. How are you?

Scott Luton (00:00:41):

We’re doing wonderful. Did you see just how I went from morning to afternoon in like the snap of a finger there?

Allison Giddens (00:00:47):

Two seconds.  Well, sometimes it feels like that. Sometimes the days go by really fast.

Scott Luton (00:00:48):

You are right. Well, hey, today, speaking of moving through a lot of content very quickly, we’ve got an outstanding conversation teed up. We’re going to be talking about the seemingly endless peak season for retailers in recent months, new innovative partnerships, how technology is driving a lot of that and how technology is really driving enhanced customer experience these days. And that’s just tip of the iceberg. A lot more here. So, are you ready to go, Allison?

Allison Giddens (00:01:18):

Yes, I am.

Scott Luton (00:01:20):

Wonderful. Well, let’s dive right in and welcome our guests here today. First up, we’ve got a wonderful friend of the show, repeat guest, rock and roll star, Shan Muthuvelu, CEO at UCBOS. Shan, how you doing?

Shan Muthuvelu (00:01:34):

I’m doing really good, Scott. It’s great to be here, though Atlanta is really cold and chilly outside, but you always make us, you know, warm.

Scott Luton (00:01:45):

I appreciate that Shan. You’ve made my day.

Shan Muthuvelu (00:01:47):

Good.

Scott Luton (00:01:49):

And I’ve noticed by the way, you brought one heck of a guest and friend with you. But, man, y’all really – you’ve been doing a lot of speaking, a lot of problem solving. You’ve been out there on the move across the industry so we look forward to getting an update, so welcome in Shan. And let’s introduce who is joining you here today, Venkat Gopalan, chief digital officer, chief technology officer, chief data officer with Belcorp. Venkat, how you doing?

Venkat Gopalan (00:02:17):

I’m doing well, Scott. Pleasure to be here and share some experience and learnings and looking forward to an amazing conversation today.

Scott Luton (00:02:22):

We are too. I tell you, I really enjoyed the pre-show conversation with you both, already learned a couple things just in that and speaking of warm ’cause Shan made my day a minute ago. [Inaudible] in you’re in Miami where the weather’s probably a lot nicer than the 30 degree day we had here in the Metro Atlanta area, Venkat.

Venkat Gopalan (00:02:41):

Yep. I can’t complain. So Miami has been in the news for good and bad. So I would not mention the bad part of it. At least the weather has been good.

Scott Luton (00:02:48):

Well, at least the weather down in Miami is almost as hot as a supply chain industry here, here lately.

Venkat Gopalan (00:02:56):

Absolutely. No denial about that.

Scott Luton (00:02:57):

That’s right. Amen. So looking forward to diving into both of your expertise and as well as a little bit of your story here today. So we’re going to start initially, which I want to do a little level setting, right? Of course, Shan’s been with us before, but let’s give – Shan, if you don’t mind for folks who may have missed those earlier episodes, just tell us a little bit about UCBOS and what the company does.

Shan Muthuvelu (00:03:18):

Oh, thanks, Scott. So, UCBOS is a no-code supply chain cloud software. And we want enterprises to imagine their supply chain in an innovation time loop. That means we want them to go reinvent, reimagine and redesign their supply chain continuously with zero cost and zero code, right, but with lots of value, and we are trying to change, you know, how enterprises, you know, transform themselves and we are challenging the status quo and we are in the making of, you know, six years and now for the last one year, we are doing really good penetrating the market.

Scott Luton (00:04:07):

Love that. So, it’s like a dynamic interpretation of the organization as what UCBOS is powering. Allison, is that what you heard too?

Allison Giddens (00:04:14):

Yep, definitely. It’s not about the keep doing what you’ve been doing. It’s something different.

Scott Luton (00:04:19):

That’s right. All right. So, Venkat, welcome to Supply Chain Now. It’s your first appearance here today. We’ve been tracking – we’ve been doing our homework a little bit on you. And as we mentioned at pre-show, you’ve had some big ones here lately as well. So, tell us a little bit about Belcorp and what the company does.

Venkat Gopalan (00:04:35):

Thank you, Scott. And thank you for the opportunity. Belcorp is a beauty cosmetic leader in Latam. We are the leader in the 90% of the market. We are in total of 13 countries. Belcorp started way back in 1960 as a beauty and cosmetic company, focused predominantly in direct selling. The vision was to actually enable women entrepreneurs so they’re able to be distribution partners and extension of Belcorp. In the last two, three years, are focused more into direct-to-consumer model and moving the consultants more of a beauty advisor and influencer and enabling her and providing digital tools to manage effective relationship with the consumers as such. We have three brands level, Esika, L’Bel, and Cyzone, targeting different consumer demographics. Our plan is to expand eventually to other markets. That’s why we started the office in Miami, most probably in North America, as well as in Southeast Asia, given Southeast Asia being the center of gravity for beauty.

Scott Luton (00:05:27):

Wow. I love that unique history and it sounds like growth is the order of the day at Belcorp.

Venkat Gopalan (00:05:33):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (00:05:34):

So, Allison, on that, we’ve got a great conversation teed up. We know a little more about our guest now. Where are we going next with Shan and Venkat?

Allison Giddens (00:05:44):

Yes. So now that we know what drives them during the day, I’d like to know how they’re able to unplug. So, I mean, as far as recharging your batteries on the weekend, when you’re not living and breathing supply chain, Shan, what, what do you have going on?

Shan Muthuvelu (00:06:00):

Great. If it is not, you know, UCBOS work, you know, what’s going on with me is, one is we are doing some construction in terms of, you know, bringing up new offices for UCBOS. So, that’s definitely fun stuff because, you know, procuring the land and, you know, redesigning office space and that’s been fun. And also I’ve realized, you know, this is all going to go on forever. I don’t think I can ever take my eyes off of supply chain. So, recently I’ve started giving some of my wealth and some of my time back to the community. You know, so I’ve started from my hometown building an orphanage. So, so that – you know, I also have a journey towards, you know, something, you know, fulfilling for me and my family.

Scott Luton (00:06:53):

Wow. Shan, that is remarkable. I think in your last appearance, you didn’t share that with us. Is that a really new initiative?

Shan Muthuvelu (00:06:59):

Yes. You know, a few years ago when my father passed away. So then I thought, you know what, I’m not the young son anymore. I have a responsibility that I have to do and I have to live up to his expectations and I have to continue his legacies. That’s a reason of change.

Allison Giddens (00:07:17):

That is awesome. That’s incredible, that legacy leaving. That’s a very neat thing. And, I’m sure your father is very proud.

Shan Muthuvelu (00:07:26):

Thank you.

Allison Giddens (00:07:27):

I’d love to hear from Venkat. What do you have going on in terms of recharging your batteries and anything that you’re participating in that gets you excited?

Venkat Gopalan (00:07:35):

I know we are living in a very unprecedented time with pandemic, but I had a baby girl in October of, sorry, June of 2020. And so, she’s 18 months old. So, she takes majority of my time over the weekend, learning every single day being a father.

Allison Giddens (00:07:49):

Congratulations.

Venkat Gopalan (00:07:50):

So that being aside, the second part is I spend some time advising some of the startups based in Bay Area. And then, I read a lot, so I have a huge library at home, even though I have a Kindle, but I’m a fan of having actual physical books. So, I do read a lot. So, those are the three that keeps me busy during the weekends.

Allison Giddens (00:08:09):

Oh, that’s incredible. So, knowing that you all have very, very busy lives, whether it’s work-related, home-related, community-related and everything in between, where, as we kind of enter this hectic end of year time, this transitional time into the beginning of 2022, what’s a key supply chain observation or two? And, I imagine you may have a couple only because it sounds like your hobbies kind of overlap work and that speaks to me, ’cause that tells me that you really enjoy enough of what you do, that it becomes part of your weekends too. So, I don’t know, give us some insight on your key supply chain observations.

Venkat Gopalan (00:08:48):

Maybe I’ll take the question here first. So, when you look at supply chain is always looked at a cost center, you know, last several decades. And I think no other verticals or an area is more disruptive, has been disrupted or more disruptive or disrupted in the last few years, especially the post-COVID area. When we look at that, whether it’s just in-time manufacturing or lean manufacturing changes to that, whether you look at container shortages, [inaudible] issues, you look at port condition, I mean like every disruption that you can see, I think supply chain has add in 2020 and as well as 2021. And hopefully we’ll get to the end [inaudible] because the COVID situation also creates more disruption. And the consumer shift moving to more of the digital creates an enormous amount of challenges for the several organizations. Compared to the digital native organizations like Amazon or eBay, traditional brick and mortar moving their sales into online requires a huge shift in terms of supply chain.

Venkat Gopalan (00:09:48):

And that means the focus of the organization beyond the customer experience is the supply chain, the investments that’s driving across the board, making sure that we are able to deliver the product at the right time at the right place becomes even more critical from that standpoint. So, no longer I would say supply chain is a cost center. Supply chain is a more competitive advantage for every organization in the new world. And, obviously that’s its own set of challenges that we need to solve for that decades of certain methods and processes that we have done has to be relooked at and reinvented. But I think this is a fantastic opportunity for organizations, professionals to be part of the supply chain transformation.

Allison Giddens (00:10:26):

Great. I think you’re right. I think it’s a whole different world, a whole different way of looking at supply chain and its role in industry across the board. Shan, what about you?

Scott Luton (00:10:36):

Allison, really quick. I like how what he finished on is that supply chain, I think one of the silver linings and you got to look hard sometimes in the last two or three years to really find them. But one of them is certainly how the visibility that supply chain has received is going to help it get the talent that needs to come in an industry to drive some of the transformation that we’re going to do that Venkat just spoke about and we’ll be talking about kind of throughout today’s show. So, I love that perspective, Venkat. Sorry, Allison, I didn’t mean to interrupt, but –

Allison Giddens (00:11:05):

No, you’re right.

Scott Luton (00:11:06):

Venkat, you got my – my juices got going there for a second. Supply chain and talent, we got to have a lot more of it.

Allison Giddens (00:11:11):

You got that right. Shan, what about you?

Shan Muthuvelu (00:11:12):

Great. So, you know, living and breathing, you know, coming from a Manhattan associates, right, then just learning Oracle and others, you know, supply chain is always challenging and fascinating, right, whether it’s a port congestion or labor shortages. But the last few months, what is really exciting me is the education needed for the enterprises on new technologies I feel that it’s over because they now understand, you know, they can go to AllCloud. They can go to All AWS, you know, Google, Azure, and they can put, you know, cloud solutions, they can build cloud solutions. They can embed AML. They understand no sequel, no code, you know, low code, you know, all kinds of new stuff, right. So that means, they are ready for the – you know, if you take, you know, Pfizer, right. You know, you don’t have to wait for three years for a vaccine. We can bring it out in six months. That means just a new way of innovating things. Likewise enterprises. Even Venkat always brings it up. You know, when we say I have these five new things, he will say, what about the sixth one and seventh one, right? He is ahead in asking the cutting edge technologies and they’re bold right now to try new things and that’s exciting time, right, you know, yep.

Scott Luton (00:12:33):

I love that. A lot less constraints, Allison, is what I heard in part of Shan’s answer there, right?

Allison Giddens (00:12:40):

Yep. Just rocking and rolling, getting the show on the road.

Scott Luton (00:12:42):

Okay. So, we’re going to get a little deeper, we’re going to get more into retail here in a second. But before we do, Venkat, we’ve got to give you a big high five because as part of our team’s due diligence, whenever we get a guest here at Supply Chain Now, we uncovered that here in recent months, I think it was last summer, that you were recognized with a Digital Disruptors Award in speaking of the transformation and in the transformation category. So, really quick, what did that mean to you? How special is that?

Venkat Gopalan (00:13:16):

I think for me the recognition is more for my team more than me. When you look at a job of leader is about enabler. So, I’m just a face for them. And so, I’m happy to see that my team has been recognized and I think – and the transformation can be done by anyone even though majority of my experience has been US based last two and half years, I took this role for Belcorp from Latin America. So, we were able to actually put Belcorp at the center of the – because of this award. So, I’m glad and happy for the team more than for me.

Scott Luton (00:13:45):

Love that. And for some reason, Allison, I just knew he was going to take the team approach as we talked about his recognition with that award. I love that. A sign of a greatly leader.

Scott Luton (00:13:55):

Okay. So, let’s get more, let’s do some more heavy lifting. Let’s get into retail and, you know, kinda looking back a little bit with this recent peak season, pretty unique peak season to many would say the peak season that never ended. So, I want to talk about customer promise. So, I want to pose a couple questions to y’all, and Venkat will stick with you, what’s your take on customer promise, how are we holding up on the customer promise reliability score and what are some of the challenges we’re facing on meeting customer promise? So, Venkat your thoughts.

Venkat Gopalan (00:14:29):

Wow. Okay. That’s a tough one. So, let me try to crack the nut. So, when you look at, obviously, I look at the customer problem is within the customer experience aspect of it. Now, the digital transformation has turned into digital acceleration. That means that in consumer [inaudible] needs has been a huge challenge for the last 18 months. And, as I talked about before, digital native companies are actually built for this. Amazon has actually prepared for the last 15 years for this event, so they were able to realize and able to scale. And, when you look at the traditional brick and mortar other companies, it’s been, it’s a shift, you’re flipping the switch on a day in March of 2020 and you’re saying, “Hey, we are going to go online.” And, because of all the shutdowns and that means people are buying online. And that means the experience throughout it is very critical from the consumer experience, always fulfilling the product and having the right product at the right time become even more critical. When you look at from grocery delivery to restaurant delivery, you look at the essentials and non-essentials, I think it’s across the board that the digital acceleration has happened.

Venkat Gopalan (00:15:27):

So one of the key stats, if you really look at the e-commerce growth in US for the last 10 years has been achieving the first three to six months in 2020. That’s a tremendous leap that we look at. The software is an easy part to scale. The long pole of the intent is always a supply chain, right? Because all of these things from planning production, you look at manufacturing, all of this have to be taken into consideration to of social customer progress, including customer service as well.

Venkat Gopalan (00:15:54):

And so that created a huge challenge for several companies, [inaudible], which are digital natives who have not prepared for this event, even Amazon has to do several things to make that happen. I would say it has been extremely challenging in the last 18 months, and especially last year, I would say, given all the changes is including the chip shortage, the container shortage, the Suez Canal impact that had. So we are going to live with this supply chain impact for quite a while, you know, for next two to three years to recoup, to come back to the 2019 level. And obviously, consumer habits are going to change. Some of them are long term and some of them are short term. We are all human beings. We are social. Obviously, there is a pent-up demand over the last 18 months that we wanted to meet with people, but the digital convenience is here to stay.

Venkat Gopalan (00:16:40):

So the things, for example, I’m not going to go for grocery delivery because I’m so used to (0:16:44), right? Certain convenience that people are going to look at and saying, okay, I’m going to use digital aspect of it. So, the increase that we see in18 months is not going be sustainable in terms of the demand that I see. Obviously, I don’t have a crystal ball so I’m speaking for my intuition here and some data points. Obviously, but [inaudible] definitely we do see [inaudible] organizations have to rethink the entire supply chain. That includes not reliance on China. Dual sourcing becomes very critical aspect of it. [inaudible] becomes important aspect of it, or even regional supply chain becomes very important aspect to look at that. And also, from sourcing, production, planning, customer service, every aspect has to be looked at for the customer promise, right?

Venkat Gopalan (00:17:29):

And that, what it means is that for organization, right? Any typical enterprise [inaudible] systems. Systems are built for a specific purpose, right, whether it’s [inaudible] management systems or planning systems. And all of them requires data that needs to create visibility. You need instant visibility to make quicker decision. The speed is the name of the game in terms of consumer [inaudible] as well for the business to react. When you look at traditionally the digital transformation, everybody has their own speed time three, four years. Now, whether it is a retail, CPG, every vertical has to be on the digital acceleration. So, everybody’s pressed to do that, right? And that creates a tremendous amount of pressure and competition to stand out across the crowd and from the competition. And, that requires that your systems have to scale. You need to have a clear data across all of these different disparate or siloed systems. And that requires a whole different thinking, right? No organization is going to come back and saying, “Hey, I’m going to replatform.” No one so there is no [inaudible] across different parts of the supply chain. We need a solution which brings the data across all of this desperate system without disrupting the existing investment of the companies and able to provide the insights what’s happening in a real time, anywhere, anytime to make those decisions. And I think that’s the need [inaudible] if I would say, from a customer promise and the reliability standpoint.

Scott Luton (00:18:54):

Okay. Going way back to what you said about halfway through your answer, that instant visibility. We’re getting closer and closer. And, in some cases it’s already here, but I would argue that then y’all can probably offer up your observations with global enterprise and some of our bigger supply chains that becomes much more challenging, much, much more challenging. Heck, visibility in the same month can be challenging in some of these global enterprises as we’ve seen here in the last couple years in particular, as some of our sourcing decisions have come into question. So, I appreciate your, Venkat, offering up your perspective. First, I want to go to Shan next. Shan, customer promise, customer promise, reliability, scoring challenges we’re seeing. What comes to mind for you, Shan?

Shan Muthuvelu (00:19:42):

So as Venkat was saying, right, the customer promise reliability has really gone down, right. Because, all right, you know, whether it is a supply chain disruption, right, or even a company, which is really growing because of this situation, right. It’s taking this as an opportunity. But the challenges are still challenges for them. Meaning, you know, they were not able to scale up. They were, you know, their shot of labor then their processes are not fully automated and trying a different, you know, delivery or a product line, right, you know, they don’t, they’re not skilled in terms of solutioning, in terms of engineering, in terms of processes to handle that. So the reliability scores are sort of going down, right. So, you know, those are attributable to how inflexible your systems are, how inflexible your production lines are, how inflexible your processes are. But Venkat is also bringing up a great point, right?

Shan Muthuvelu (00:20:38):

You know, your data is not real time, right? You don’t have the real time visibility as an enterprise. Not just within your enterprise, it could be your suppliers, you know, supply chain. It could be their supplier and supply chain, right. So, that the trend is going to be we need to increase the customer reliability score, right. Enterprises have to pay attention. But it cannot be done in the traditional way. Meaning, I am going to integrate with the every system. I am going to, you know, rebuild new systems, right, and I’m going to still take the four to five years to, you know, go with one ERP, go with one system, right. Even after mergers and acquisitions, I’m going to, you know, follow one process, right. It’s not going to work, you know. That’s what we find out. How can you, you know – can you imagine – you know, as if in a time loop, I want to redo my supply chain, you know, scenarios, supply chain orchestration, supply chain strategies differently in a very, very short period, looking for the right outcome. If the outcome is bad, change it. But you don’t have years, right. Maybe four to six weeks, you try something. If it works, stick to it and answer. If not, drop it and move on. But you can’t spend, you know, unlimited resources and unlimited money on it, right? You need to do it at a very low cost, no cost, right? Low code, no code. That should be the trend you had go. And, they have to increase the, you know, customer reliability score. If not, they’re going to be, you know, taken out by Amazon and other big companies. So, that’s, I don’t know if you noticed, Venkat said 90% that’s a market share that he’s talking about. So, you don’t want the world where there are only few companies, right? So, you know, to encourage new companies going up, they need to be very creative and innovative.

Scott Luton (00:22:26):

I love that for a couple different reasons. And Allison, I want to get your take on what Venkat and Shan have shared, but, you know, we don’t have the luxury of time and we don’t have the luxury of, and there once was the luxury of overanalyzing what we wanted to do and how we wanted to pivot the aircraft carrier or the battleship, and slowly turn. All that is out the window as both our guests are pointing out. Also, I love how Shan talked about from years to weeks. I tell you, sometimes it feels like we’ve got maybe days or mere hours to make a decision in today’s environment balance. And what stood out to you?

Allison Giddens (00:23:05):

There were two things and I kept taking notes. But the two of my favorites were – Venkat, you said something that I feel like it’s so succinctly put that you have, you have said what I’ve been thinking all along, and that is you talked about those pent-up social needs that we have post pandemic or now that we’re in this endemic stage or whatever you want to call it. But the digital convenience is here to stay. And I think is key because we keep thinking that we’re going to go back to some sort of quote normal where things are back to less digital, which that’s not the case. So, I think that that kind of frame is really important. And then Shan talked about how there was a – the customer delivery scores in general, and talked about how the scores themselves being kind of the driver as to what to do next.

Allison Giddens (00:23:55):

And in my industry in manufacturing, as we look at these KPIs, it always concerns me because I watch, as our suppliers will have certain standards and as long as they meet ’em, they’re okay. And, it doesn’t seem like that bar ever moves. So, I would be wary of folks falling the other way. So, as time goes on, if time, to your point, Scott, if we’re looking at hours and days for really time crunches, instead of years in terms of watching and measuring. If we’re looking at these short time periods, now we have to be willing to move that bar just as quickly as it can move.

Scott Luton (00:24:35):

That’s right. Completely agree there. All right. I want to ask one more quick follow up question before we get into Allison is going to be talking with both of y’all about some really cool, interesting partnerships we’ve seen. DULDM. You know, we love our acronyms around here in supply chain. You know, I was in the military way back when. That teed me up perfectly for supply chain because we love our acronyms in the military as well. But I’m learning – we we’re all going to learn a new one here today, at least maybe, maybe I am. Allison, maybe you too. I don’t know. So, Shan, D-U-D, D-U, I’m sorry, DULDM dynamic unified logical data model. What are we talking about?

Shan Muthuvelu (00:25:14):

Great. Yes, I know we were keeping it so business. You know, I’ll try to answer that. So, as you know, right, the enterprises are – every enterprise is unique, right? In terms of the ERP that they use or the supply chain module that they use or any legacy applications that they use, right, they’re very unique in the way they operate in terms of solutions, and behind the scenes for those solutions, there are rigid database models, right? They call them as canonical models or relational models, right? They’re very rigid. And there’s only one way to operate that model in terms of, you know, visualizations, visibility, integrations, right, mobile frameworks, or any logic that you build, you have to build on the rigid model. But the moment you want enterprises to collaborate with everybody in a faster fashion, that means you cannot be operating on a rigid data model.

Shan Muthuvelu (00:26:14):

You should be operating on a flexible data model where you can understand anybody’s supply chain data model in a day. So, if you have to understand somebody else’s supply chain data model in a day, then it has be logical and dynamic. That’s what the dynamic unified logical data model is. Unless you know, a platform which enables a dynamic logical data model is readily available for an enterprise, they cannot bring what Venkat is talking about that instant visibility that is real time. Not a data warehouse or a data lake, right? That’s all data, data. You know, if you want instantaneous data, which is accurate, which you can make decisions on, right, [inaudible] changing your production schedule or changing your delivery mechanisms or alternate fulfillment strategies or anything that you want to do in supply chain. So, you need an approach called dynamic unified logical data model.

Scott Luton (00:27:12):

Okay. I love that. It sounds like to me, in the non-technologists speak, as I’m limited to that folks, you know, powering data fluency and integration, which allows there to be quick understanding so that you can add value and power partnerships and maybe better use of data to meet some of these smarter, to be able to, be able to rather make quicker smarter decisions faster. Does that make sense? Did I get that in layperson’s terms there, Shan? Okay.

Shan Muthuvelu (00:27:48):

Definitely.

Scott Luton (00:27:49):

All right. Wonderful. I feel like I just got some kind of data certification here. Allison, you’re laughing. We’re going to be talking –

Allison Giddens (00:27:56):

You did. You have been certified in DULDM plus, plus.

Scott Luton (00:28:02):

Plus, plus. All right. So, moving from that, we’re going to be talking in this next segment, Allison, about what can you do with all of what Venkat and Shan have been talking about. What is – how is it playing out in industry? So, Allison, where are we going next?

Allison Giddens (00:28:16):

So, it got me thinking about the Ulta brands inside of Target. So, we’re talking about some interesting partnerships here. So, you got your Ulta brand inside of Target, Kohl’s that they added, Sephora shops inside their stores, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Kroger, looking at the home and baby product integration there. So, looking at on your thought, Venkat, on some of those interesting partnerships and kind of your insight.

Venkat Gopalan (00:28:45):

I think when you really look at it, it’s an ecosystem, right? And, I think that’s very crucial for success of these companies. So, to be told, I was with Sephora, and Sephora [inaudible] happened. That was way back, like 10, 15 years when we did that. Obviously, [inaudible] is a different story. I will not talk about that right now, but more around than Target. And then you look at Sephora and Kohl’s, I think one, I think is around the footprint increase, right? So, when you look at the brands like Sephora, that is a win-win situation both for Kohl’s as well as for Sephora because they can actually reach out to the number of stores that they can reach out to. When you look at Sephora right now, around 300 to 400 stores footprint, and you look at Kohl’s like thousands of stores that you have.

Venkat Gopalan (00:29:27):

So your immediate increase in footprint is from a scaling standpoint. Software is easiest to scale. Creating a physical footprint is hard to do, right? And, especially having this partnership will help drive the foot traffic to the stores because you’re bringing in new additional consumer segments into codes, right, because of Sephora wireless. And that also increases other buying and other categories that the Kohl’s can win as well, right? And then for Sephora, it’s basically a footprint increase that they’re able to go quickly in terms of scaling from a store infrastructure standpoint.

Venkat Gopalan (00:29:56):

Now, the second aspect of this when I look at overall is around interoperability, right? It’s easier said than done saying that, okay, Sephora inside is, Sephora inside Kohl’s or inside Target is also harvest the inventory of those systems get managed. How do you make sure buy online, pickup and stuff, for example, that opens Sephora to have a pick-up or returns within Kohl’s or within Target because you have a footprint increase tremendously in terms of three or four x five scale. And so, this creates this whole omnichannel capability for whether it’s Sephora or Ulta or whether even Krogers and bed, body, bed and body –

Scott Luton (00:30:40):

Bed Bath & Beyond, right?

Venkat Gopalan (00:30:42):

Bed Bath & Beyond, sorry for that. So, that creates a different business model. It’s not just foot traffic. It is also all of this omnichannel capability, buying online, pick up in store, or buy online, fulfilled from store, or the returns that you can do, or the lockers you can do. So, that creates the tremendous opportunity across the board from in terms of the consumer. So, you are at where the consumers are, right? That’s the whole, the Nirvana that we want to be. We want to be the channel where the consumer is. I would say consumer is the channel not necessarily, we generally differentiate that, and that creates opportunity, but also challenges. When you look at the challenges, how do you integrate two different systems from Kohl’s and Sephora, the inventory management, and looking to do all of this different variations?

Venkat Gopalan (00:31:22):

And then, we are talking about systems which needs to interoperate. That’s the foundation for us to work on this partnership [inaudible]. And what we are seeing is just tip of the iceberg. If I have to, if [inaudible] because it more partnership that’s going to happen, you see Sephora or Instacart using that, and all of this partnership will continue to play because – and this is an ecosystem (0:31:43). So, that’s a good thing overall for the businesses doing that. And obviously there is more that’s going to happen that I see.

Venkat Gopalan (00:31:48):

And also it helps – it’s a win-win situation. Second, it puts from a technology perspective, challenges. How do we interoperate between this different companies, different systems? Basically, we don’t want to create our (0:32:02) to the consumer. Sephora inside Kohl’s should be like a normal store that they buy, right, whether the loyalty system should work. My PO system should work. My inventory should work. So, that becomes very critical in terms of the consumer experience. And so, I think that is a challenge to be solved for if I have to say beyond the opportunity.

Scott Luton (00:32:24):

All right. I got make a quick comment before, Allison, you go to Shan here. But can you imagine with this Bed Bath & Beyond and it’s, I think it’s a subsidiary, Buy Buy Baby. Your grocery store visits or your significant other’s grocery store visits have the potential of getting a lot more expensive. Hey, honey, getting milk, eggs, and a crib or whatever it is. I mean, we’re going to have to put some constraints on the budget or related to –

Allison Giddens (00:32:49):

I think that’s what they’re counting on.

Scott Luton (00:32:52):

Probably so. I imagine that in convenience to be able to pick it up right there. Right? Okay.

Venkat Gopalan (00:32:57):

Sorry, Scott. If I put my family man hat, as I agree with you, but my businessman hat, I think that’s not something I want to admit to.

Scott Luton (00:33:08):

Hey, Venkat, this is going to be a great marriage between Bed Beth & Beyond and Kroger, if y’all have those down. I think Kroger is nationwide, if not.

Venkat Gopalan (00:33:17):

Yes. It is, it is.

Scott Luton (00:33:18):

All right. All right, Allison, we’re going get Shan’s take next, right?

Allison Giddens (00:33:22):

Yes. Yes. So, Shan, so what do you think about these partnerships? And what’s some of your insights?

Shan Muthuvelu (00:33:26):

Look, a few years ago when these things were happening and especially definitely from Amazon, Whole Foods, certain things worked and certain things did not work. So, we were wondering, right, how this is all going to work, right? But a couple of months ago, I attended a conference in Atlanta like a supply chain conference, you know, a CSCNB. And, I was surprised even competitors want to work together to optimize transportation because they’re saying why do I send two trucks, half empty, right, during the peak time in New York city, even though I’m competing, right. We could both save money. So, as Venkat pointed out, this is just the, you know, starting point, a lot of players may come together and operate together. But in terms of there is – you know, in terms of solutioning, right, you know, pitching our product as UCBOS, you know, talking about the logical data models, right? The platform supports multiple data models to coexist. So, this is really music to our ears. When five companies says can we collaborate in a single platform, five different data models and can we control who can see the data at the same time if required for transportation reasons or fulfillment, I want to combine that for optimization reasons, we can do that. So, whenever these partnerships are happening, we are definitely taking advantage of that. And, as Venkat said, this is going to be more and more happening so that you don’t have to – you know, you don’t have to be, I don’t know if you remember, there was a company called Sears. And, I still remember they got 2 million square foot warehouses and, you know, in a multimillion automation investments, but they were operating as one company. They were not, right, – but, you know, if they let other companies utilize their space, utilize their supply chain, utilize their delivery models maybe they would’ve survived. So, now, you know, new ways of doing business.

Scott Luton (00:35:31):

New ways of doing business and I’ve got Sears to thank for selling me my first three CD changer stereo way back in the day. Allison, one other thing, quick comment, before we move into artificial intelligence machine learning. The other day, I saw Ups, right? Big old, global brand put out a corporate video kind of celebrating peak season, getting through it and celebrating the workforce that made it happen, right. To Shan’s point about these big brands that are natural competitors but kind of collaborating, there’s a moment in a UPS video where a FedEx delivery driver and a UPS delivery driver are basically giving each other a high five in a piece that UPS is promoting. And, you know, at the end of the day, it’s a 3 second clip but that is a, in my view, that’s a beautiful thing, right? You can compete, but it can be coopetition at times as many of these transportation companies have done with big initiatives, like the vaccine distribution.

Scott Luton (00:36:29):

So, all right. So, from here, we want to get and kinda moving from the innovative partnerships we’re seeing, which we’re probably going to see a lot more of in the months ahead, let’s talk more about artificial intelligence, machine learning. It certainly seems to be the golden age of AI and ML. I don’t know if they call it ML, but regardless, the golden age for these things. So, I want to start with you, Venkat, when it comes to artificial intelligence, machine learning and its current state of adoption in the retail industry, speak to that for a second and then also speak to what do you think’s holding it back from what more widespread adoption.

Venkat Gopalan (00:37:06):

I think you rightfully said we are in the golden age of computing. I also say that to my team. We are in the [inaudible] explosion of AI. AI is like as disruptive as steam engine is, as disruptive as internet is, as the pure mobile phone is. And, I think this is for a way it’s going to be very pervasive whether we notice or not. When you use Spotify, you’re looking at the recommendation, you’re looking at the list and all of that. So, it’s already there across the board for the last, I would say last 10 years and because of the cloud computing costs, [inaudible] the storage cost has reduced, the amount of data that we are getting, I think we are able to run several sophisticated machine learning algorithms, which is not possible 20 years back. Right? And, that’s the key. I think the stars are lining up right now.

Venkat Gopalan (00:37:47):

And, what that means is that now AI is accessible to everyone which was previously one lead to like Amazon or Facebook or Microsoft. Now, what’s happening is that this created an explosion of AI startups across the board who are bringing in tools and capabilities for enterprise to take advantage of it. So, it’s becoming a level playing field [inaudible], right, so it’s not just with Facebook and Microsoft and Google of the world right now. They’re also actually contributing to the community. They’re sharing that open source. So, I think it’s benefiting generally across the board. Now within retail, when you look at it, it has a full, when we look at a company value chain, starting from your brand building all the way to your post purchase, consumer experience, AI and machine learning is going to be pervasive across the board both from a revenue standpoint as well as from an efficiency and productivity standpoint.

Venkat Gopalan (00:38:42):

There was a study that I saw think in by 2025 or 2026, 30 to 40% of the revenue will be AI or ML, right. And that’s where maybe we are going [inaudible].And then when you look at the efficiency in terms of automation, in terms, I think Shan talked a little bit about the manual aspect that the companies are doing so you can create efficiency, the speed that we need in terms of decision-making. And, I believe that it [inaudible] in a great time in terms of leveraging AI, the technology got sophisticated. I think it’s creating a level playing field. We get AI startups, the investments. If you really look at in the last 10 months, the amount of investment in AI startup has been exploding, crazy, and the number of companies are going public is also great. And, I think that pro creates a momentum.

Venkat Gopalan (00:39:26):

Now with respect to how well the retail aspect of it, I think it’s – if I have to give a general view, I think started in more on the personalization recommendation using and demand forecasting. I think some are on demand sensing and demand shipping capabilities. So, I think some companies are really in advanced state and some companies are actually in the early stage of liberating AI and up and now with respect to adoption challenges. So, AI and ML is not a technology problem. It’s a business problem. Meaning, that how are the business able to take advantage of AI and rethink their business model, rethink their day-to-day job. How do I – for example, planning or merchandising making decision to [inaudible] versus an ML providing a recommendation of what the right product portfolio, what it be the right pricing, because it can look at millions of millions of data points and give you a recommendation. I think this is a pricing that you need to look at, right, from a dynamic pricing standpoint, which takes several days or months for a planning person to do.

Venkat Gopalan (00:40:30):

So that means the shift is, we wanted the employees to focus on the higher order [inaudible], not the manual things. That means there’s a shift in working towards an employee saying, hey, you are going to make strategic decisions and let the machine do what it does really well, able to go over vast amount of data and able to give you the recommendation and the shift that needs to happen. So that is a first fundamental in terms of rescaling and upscaling employees to take advantage of AI.

Venkat Gopalan (00:40:57):

Second, in terms of automation and automation is always looked at, hey, it’s going to take my job or not, I think that’s what – I think automation is going to enhance human decisions, right, in terms of the scale in which it can provide and the time in which it provide. So, the employees can actually focus on more strategic work. So, I see it’s more of an argumented intelligence, not necessarily a replacement intelligence. The third is the skill and talent gap. And even though AI startups are giving the tools, AI requires a different mindset. And if you look at the data, science is one of the hardest role and recruiting and retaining the talent is pretty hard. It’s an employee market. So, that’s a challenge for any traditional enterprise of taking AI adoption over. And the fourth important point is AI ethics. I think we all heard about five months back or what happened with Facebook and Twitter in terms of all the misinformation, how AI and machine learning needs to be removing the bias whether it’s gender bias or data bias, so able to have AI ethics is very critical.

Venkat Gopalan (00:42:00):

You see in Europe [inaudible] very strict about AI ethics. So that is going to be a pretty important aspect from an adoption standpoint. How do we ethically adopt AI? We look at the defects that’s coming in. Someone can actually make a video of me, so I’m speaking. So, those things that we need to take into consideration from disinformation perspective and have ethical aspect of AI utilization is going to be. But AI is a [inaudible]. Machine learning is one aspect of it [inaudible] computer vision. You look at Tesla, you pretty much can drive without automated driving that hopefully the [inaudible] will happen in the next few years and across, even when you look at the computer vision and the amount of things that’s happening is breathtaking, right? And, we are in the inflection of getting, even having, I think Shan briefly talked about, some of the automation robots in distribution center. And when you look at the amount of automation that’s happening, it’s just tremendous, including when you look at drones and stuff like that. So, I don’t want to throw a lot of technology [inaudible] here, but, yeah.

Scott Luton (00:43:01):

It’s breathtaking. It is breathtaking.

Venkat Gopalan (00:43:03):

It’s fascinating. It’s just fascinating.

Allison Giddens (0:43:05):

Well, remember, no, but – Scott, you already have your DULDM plus plus certification, so you should know this.

Scott Luton (00:43:11):

Well, folks, the jokes on y’al. This isn’t Scott. This is a computer animated image leading interview here today. All right. Well, one quick point and, Venkat shared a lot there, basically a certification of itself in his answer. I love how you dissected kind the whole situation. But one point, one really important point we hear time and time again from savvy folks, savvy technologists was one of the points he made. It’s not a technology challenge, it’s a business challenge, right? And, I would add too, and Shan, we’ll come to you next, but I would add to, you know, what is holding AI and ML and more computing back is that shiny object syndrome, right? Folks or leaders are getting it. They’re buying it. They’re budgeting for it. And they’re throwing it over to the team and there’s no results. There’s no engagement, right?

Scott Luton (00:44:02):

When you make a really strong business case around the right technology at the right time, with the right problem, with the right objective, with the right solution and the right return, that’s the secret sauce, right? That’s the secret sauce. So, I love that point. It’s a business case. It’s not technology. So, Shan, on that note, I want to stick with you here for a second. And, Allison, I’ll come to you. I’d love to get your take on what Venkat and Shan shared here in just a second. But let’s stick with current adoption, what’s holding back more adoption, and then I’m going to give one very specific example in a minute, but speak to that, Shan, if you would.

Shan Muthuvelu (00:44:38):

Oh, definitely. So, Venkat is from a, you know, retail industry, right? A lot of retailers doing a lot of, you know, AML, but I want to share a story. I think end of November or, you know, beginning part of December, this is a food manufacturing company, like, you know, top 50 in the US, right, distributing to schools, distributing to restaurants, food, right. You know, we thought we are going in for our platform, you know, saying that we are good in inventory, pre-allocation policies, procedures, you know, multidata model, multi ERP. And we walked in and they said, you know what? We want you to apply AML determining. When you ship this foot product to this particular customer, you know, how long off a shelf life should you give them. Instead then asking for a shelf life, they want to do AML and determine what kind of shelf life I should give them so that it’s favorable to them, unfavorable to you. And we were thinking, you know, this is selling chicken, who would apply, right? And, I agree with Venkat, this is all business-driven. This is nothing to do with technology.

Shan Muthuvelu (00:45:55):

So, the challenge we faced was that we are to overcome, right, is I thought AI ML is an independent engine algorithm running and making some decisions, right? No, I need to embed this in an interactive workflow and make a business decisions on fly when I’m going and allocating an inventory and picking it, or when I’m going and, you know, keeping the temperature in the cooler at the right level. And this is becoming a different business case. You know, it is not something fancy, I don’t want to touch anymore. We see a real need right now. And as Venkat said, we are now after where are these guys? Right. How do we hire them?

Scott Luton (00:46:42):

I love it.

Shan Muthuvelu (00:46:42):

That’s where we are right now.

Scott Luton (00:46:42):

Shan, I love the different conversation, your example there. That is, you know, you’re reaching and you’re having the right conversation when it’s not so focused right there in the moment. It’s going upstream, it’s going back to root cause and how can we make the business better, the business model better. Okay. Allison, Venkat and Shan have shared a lot there as we talk about AI and ML in the retail industry, your thoughts.

Allison Giddens (00:47:08):

So, yeah, there’s been a lot. I’m taking notes. And, something that got me thinking, there was a recent article I read from Lockheed Martin. They partnered with, I believe Amazon for Alexa and Cisco on the Orion Spacecraft, and talking about those different technology pieces that play into things. And, it reminds me of, you know, they say that you can’t be everything to everyone, right? And so, you have a lot of companies that they try to be everything to everyone, and they fail miserably. Some of ’em do it pretty well, but most of the time we go to certain brands or certain companies ’cause we know they’re really good at something for us. And, it kind of reminds me these partnerships that they’re talking about, especially the technology piece and the AI, I think we’re going to start seeing a lot more of these kind of partnerships, going back to the partnerships, a lot more of these, because the people that are really good at that kind of thing are going to lend their expertise to the people that are really good at something else..

Scott Luton (00:48:06):

Yeah. You get the best of both worlds kinda what I’m hearing you say. And by the way, you’re talking about Orion Spacecraft. How about that James Webb Space Telescope, and that mission as we’re recording this here today, I want to say they’re about three quarters of the way to the L2 orbit and thousands of things that have had to go, right. And, it is just fascinating to watch that, talk about the – I’m sure the AI, the ML, and all the technology at play there. I have to keep our finger on the pulse.

Scott Luton (00:48:34):

Okay. One more question. When it comes to artificial intelligence, machine learning, I want to, Venkat and Shan, if we can get y’all’s Reader’s Digest version or answer to this question, I was looking for my – I actually subscribed to Reader’s Digest. I’m part are one of seven folks that still get that, get that magazine, but it’s still around. So out-of-stock, how often we heard that the last couple years, right? Despite our best planning, all these curve balls, you name it. Venkat, walk through some of the challenges earlier in the conversation. We’ve seen a wide variety of product shortage. Some of that beyond the planning, some of that has been due to expired and damaged products, right? So, Venkat, again, succinct answer, how does AI and ML help here?

Venkat Gopalan (00:49:23):

I think that’s a great question. I think it’s a great applicability of AI and [inaudible]. If I look at AI and ML, they’re nothing but prediction, right. If I have to simplify to the course point, so ability to predict when a specific product is going to be expired or a specific product will not have a demand or even creating a demand for those product is all about prediction end of the day, right. And, when I talked about what machine does well is about able to scale and look at all the different desperate data points across the world, whether looking at weather data, whether it is looking at the competition data, whether it’s looking at historical data and able to provide a meaningful and decision making process. Some of them in some companies is completely automated. AI is making the decisions. In some cases, the AI recommends where the human makes actual decision because of several factors to it.

Venkat Gopalan (00:50:13):

When you look at whether it’s a product shortage and ability to kind of predict when that’ll happen and what foresee circumstances or even doing a what-if scenario modeling, for example, to look at it, or even projecting certain unforeseeable disruption to see what might happen or power of AI and ML that you can do. Right? And, when you look at deep learning and obviously if you ask how deep learning works, everybody will have their own. It’s like try to explain the quantum computing or quantum mechanics. So, it’s similar to deep learning. When you look at the deep learning, one of the aspect of machine learning is such a power to look at those in terms of the neural networks and what possibility that can do. All of the problem that you talked about, whether it’s product shortages, whether expiry or to look at the demand, I think AI ML has an interesting part to play there. And, maybe it’s already doing and if you look at Amazon is run by AI ML predominantly and they’re successful. One of the things I forgot to say [inaudible] customer obsession company. They are successful not because of the experience, because of their supply chain.

Scott Luton (00:51:18):

Yes. I love that. They are obsessed with their customers and they reinvent their understanding of their customers it seems like by the hour. I love that. Certainly dynamic. Shan, your take. Again, we’re talking, you know, out-of-stocks, expired damage products. Really quick, how can AI ML help there?

Shan Muthuvelu (00:51:38):

As Venkat pointed out, right, so when you say damaged product or out-of-stock traditionally without AI ML as a supply chain consultant, I’m always thinking is the inventory there is? Is the delivery going to happen? Did I do a cycle count? Did I look into, you know, delivery signal from transportation? I’m always looking into the data, right? I’m not looking into a pattern. But the data could be wrong too. But the moment, you know, AI ML is implemented, it can predict not only the right data, it can predict the wrong data. The data could be correct. Meaning, Scott may be saying, I’m going to deliver to you, but AI is going to say, you know what, every December Scott fails, because instead of shipping, he will go to Disney. Right?

Shan Muthuvelu (00:52:30):

So, AI ML is definitely going to, you know, add more business value in terms of out-of-stock. Then not only that, you are also asking about planning, right.  I pretty much told my consultants, there is no point in doing any more planning based on traditional data. If you’re not applying AI ML in your planning and forecasting, forget about it. You would rather throw a dot and just say buy something for a budget and just come up with some [inaudible] to go sell it, rather than just wasting your time and, you know, the traditional forecasting and planning, right. I know Venkat is a big fan of AI ML. You know, he focused with a ton of scientists and it’s hard for any – like, you know, product company to catch up there are certain enterprises are so ahead in that game. And his company is one of them. And, we definitely want to recognize the fact that, you know, there’s a reason why these companies are very innovative. You know, because of, you know, one point you mentioned is digital, right. You know, even 10 years ago, a few enterprises realize 50% of the business have to go digitally if they have to survive. Right? And as now, Venkat is pointing out, if you can, you know, bring in AI ML then definitely you will be, you know, ahead of the game in 10 years.

Scott Luton (00:53:49):

You’ll be built to not just survive but thrive. Okay. And, I love how, Allison, he said, forget about it. I can’t – I’m not going to be able to get that like up the Sopranos or something, but I love how Shan threw through that in there. Maybe, you already [inaudible] better first station I can. But, Allison, would you hear between our two friends here?

Allison Giddens (00:54:10):

Yeah. The challenges involved of that, that out-of-stock and inventory with AI, I think we’re constantly living it as from the user experience too, right? I had just logged on this morning to find something, put it in my cart, went to go to check out and it’s like out-of-stock. I’m like, it says it’s in-stock. I refreshed, I tried a different browser. I went back. I still got an error. So, tiny, little frustrating things like that from a user perspective kind of puts things into perspective from the other side of things and being able to again be, write the programs or facilitate the team that is ultimately writing the AI that feeds into whether or not your inventory is read in real time or how that works. And, I mean, it’s just these teeny tiny little pieces that ultimately make up this massive wave.

Scott Luton (00:55:02):

You’re right .Absolutely right. Okay. For the sake of time, I want to get to who, even though Venkat said he didn’t have a crystal ball, we’re going to pretend both of y’all do. And by the way, Allison, you’re not getting out of this question here. I want to talk about here now that we’re in 2022, what is one thing that business leaders can expect more of here in this new hopefully better year, right? 2021 I think was a good year when you look at learning, you look at some of these partnerships, you look at some of the ways that we got past some of these old and new challenges, but I think all of us globally are hoping for a much better year for everyone here in 2022. And, hopefully getting into truly a post pandemic environment. But, Venkat, give us a bold prediction. What’s one thing that business leaders can expect more of here in 2022?

Venkat Gopalan (00:55:55):

Think what we have learned something from 2022 is embrace uncertainty. I think that’s going to be the key given all the disruption that we have seen because of COVID and other things, whether it’s geopolitical changes or pandemic, obviously pandemic or hopefully endemic this year. But one thing that we should never forget that we have learned in the last two years, and I think probably we’ll step back five years from now, a lot case study will happen, how we went through this disruption once in a lifetime, even that we have seen through pandemic is embrace uncertainty, right? What that means I’m being very general about uncertainty, the uncertainty when you look at supply chain. Supply chain is only probably never had a risk [inaudible] management at all. Contingency planning was not there. You look at just in time manufacturing is right out of the window, with what happened with respect to COVID.

Venkat Gopalan (00:56:43):

So, the most important learnings that I would say is embrace uncertainty and treat every crisis as an opportunity, right, is what I would actually say. I think that’s, for me personally, that’s the learning that I would see. Obviously, the technology will happen. I think a lot of innovation will be there. AI startups will come on board. Hopefully, consumer shift is happening. Hopefully, we can go back to – new industries can come back and the industries which destroyed due to COVID will also come back. But for me, the most important learning is embrace uncertainty and treat every crisis as an opportunity.

Scott Luton (00:57:20):

I love that. I want to share Amazon has been mentioned a ton of times here. It seems like throughout the conversation, as it probably has mentioned a lot of times throughout any conversation related to supply chain and beyond these days. Venkat, talking about embracing uncertainty, Jeff Bezos, whether you like him, you love him, or you don’t like him, whatever you got to admire his business intellect. He said, “What we need to do is all always lean into the future when the world changes around you and when it changes against you, what used to be a tailwind is now a headwind. You got to lean into that and figure out what to do because he says complaining isn’t a strategy.” I love that. Okay, Shan, crystal ball time, what is one big bold prediction you’ve got that business leaders can expect in 2022?

Shan Muthuvelu (00:58:09):

So, in my view, you know, enterprises are going to realize their supply chain, whether you call that as an innovation or transformation, right? They have to force themselves – they’re going to force themselves into a loop where it is not, I have to come up with one strategy one time, right, as Venkat said, right? So, you know, I need to manage that uncertainties. It could happen every week or every month or every quarter, right? So, that means I should be ready and resilient enough with my supply chain, with my technologies or with my technology roadmap. It could be new things. So, that’s where they will go after. They will – you know, the enterprises will be built to, as you said, right, to thrive, and they will be the one, will be in the market.

Shan Muthuvelu (00:59:01):

People who think about, you know what somehow I have to survive. I don’t think they’re going to survive it. It’s going to be the world of who can manage this uncertainty then, you know, who can build a resilient supply chain, right? Who’s open enough to, you know, for new technologies. And they are the one going to explode. I don’t think business growth is going to be an issue for them. Even if you look into the last few months, right, you know, look into the, you know, even UPS, look into what they reported, right. Look into Ahold or look into Publix and what they reported. And then the good, the companies who can reinvent themselves, who can be resilient in their supply chain, they’re doing pretty good. The challenges they’re facing are different right now, right, capacity and labor shortage and technologies and other things. But those are the companies, you know, going to survive. And I don’t see there is a room for laggers anymore.

Scott Luton (00:59:59):

I love – okay. So, we said bold and fearless. Shan brought it. So, Allison, Venkat and Shan have said are pretty high standard. So, Allison, what is your take on what folks can expect, business leaders can expect in 2022?

Allison Giddens (01:00:16):

Shan just said, if you’re a slacker, get in the back of the line. That was what he just said. Well, yeah, no. I think my crystal ball overlaps a little bit the two of them, their discussion that really got me thinking about that old school mentality of playing cards, close to the vest, kind of that easy to fall back into as a business owner to think, “Oh, I can’t tell people what I’m thinking.” That’s got to go away. And, I think that the idea of competitors working together and working to facilitate bigger revenue for everybody, bigger, bigger margins for everybody makes me think of, yes, there’s a pie, and yes, everybody gets a slice and everybody’s concerned about that size of slice. But what if the pie was bigger and you still got that same slice but ultimately that piece is bigger? So that’s I think where companies are going to really start becoming more successful in those partnerships. And then, yeah, ultimately just what Shan said where businesses thinking differently. I think that’s going to be real key.

Scott Luton (01:01:14):

I’m with you, I’m with you. As long as the pie can be peek in, I am with you step for step, Allison.

Allison Giddens (01:01:22):

It’s pecan. It’s pecan.

Scott Luton (01:01:24):

All right. Folks, we have had a quite a conversation, covered a lot of ground, went deep in some areas which, hey, it – in an environment that we’re getting through right now with the [inaudible] so many roads we’re at the intersection of, you’re not going to solve anything in an hour and I really appreciate Venkat’s and Shan and you, Allison, like a kind of as a pseudo guest host, waiting on some things and, helping us get through what we’re seeing from a technology standpoint, a customer experience standpoint, those consumer promises and what’s to come. All right. So, let’s go around to horn, make sure everyone how to connect with our panel here. Venkat, let’s start with you. Venkat, how can folks connect with you?

Venkat Gopalan (01:02:11):

I’m actually on LinkedIn, so they can actually search on LinkedIn and get connected on LinkedIn. And, I would be happy to talk to folks or exchange ideas or being a sounding board. They can use me in what [inaudible]. I’m very passionate about technology, supply chain, data analytics. So, looking forward to meeting the like-minded peoples.

Scott Luton (01:02:30):

I love that. And, Venkat, on behalf of our entire team here, congratulations on your newest addition to the family. That’s exciting. We’ll have to get some pictures and get caught up as you progress through 2022 with that new edition. So that’s wonderful to hear about Venkat Gopalan, chief digital officer, chief technology officer, and chief data officer with Belcorp. Thanks for joining us here today.

Venkat Gopalan (01:02:55):

Thank you, Scott.

Scott Luton (01:02:56):

You bet. All right. Shan, great to back, always a pleasure. I’m still blown away with what you’re doing in your free time with the orphanage. We’re going to have to talk more about that. We’d love to find a way to support you in that initiative if we can. That is just so admirable. So we’ll have to connect offline, but how can folks connect with you and UCBOS, Shan?

Shan Muthuvelu (01:03:18):

I’m active on LinkedIn. I operate my own LinkedIn. Then, as you know, there’s a marketing team which operates my Twitter and other things, but definitely LinkedIn, I am always active. That’s the way I’m, you know, even my college buddies and, you know, all kinds of people who are in the industry and supply chain and analysts, right, I’m connected through LinkedIn and that’s the only professional forum that I see. They can definitely find me there. And UCBOS, you know, is on LinkedIn. It’s also, you know, ucbos.com. They can also reach out to Larry Layden, who’s leading our business development as an SVP, definitely. And, you know, he is launching today a pilot program in production for $50,000, all inclusive. So, you know, they can be in the lookout for that, right. Any type of complex projects that the enterprises want to do, no strings attached for three months, all inclusive. Meaning, you get the clouds offer, you get the cloud, all consulting included, you know, all high-end supply chain consulting included for three months for that, you know, small amount, and no things attached.

Scott Luton (01:04:33):

We are wheeling and dealing here on Supply Chain Now, Shan. Thank you so much. Great to have you back. I love to see the growth that the UCBOS team and I really appreciate what you brought here today. And especially just some of the stories and some of the conversations you’re having out there that are different than everyone else. That’s so important. So, thank you so much, Shan Muthuvelu, CEO at UCBOS.

Shan Muthuvelu (01:04:58):

Thank you, Scott. Thanks for having me.

Scott Luton (01:04:59):

You bet. You bet. We’ll have you back soon. Allison, gosh, it seems like with Venkat and Shan, we could solve a lot of industry ills. I got one heck of a dynamic duo. Your thoughts and let’s make sure folks know how to connect with you and Win-Tech.

Allison Giddens (01:05:14):

It’s great seeing people this passionate in the industry ’cause you know the stuff’s going to get done. And you know what they say is if you want something done, give it to a busy person. So, I’m sure that the two of them will be just fine in solving all of the problems. No, I’d love to connect with people. I’m on LinkedIn. Find me under Allison Giddens. We’d love to connect.

Scott Luton (01:05:31):

Wonderful and Allison Giddens with the award winning Win-Tech team here in Metro Atlanta, always a pleasure to do these conversations with you. Folks, hopefully y’all enjoyed this conversation and learned as much as I did as we walked through these topics here with Venkat, Shan and Allison. If you’d like these conversations, check us out@supplychainnow.com. You can find us wherever we get your podcast from. But, hey, most importantly, hey, we’d like Shan in particular, all of y’all, but Shan, man, with what he’s doing in his free time, hey, do good, give forward, be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time right back here at Supply Chain Now. Thanks, everybody.

Intro/Outro (01:06:09):

Thanks for being a part of our Supply Chain Now community. Check out all of our programming at 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

Shan Muthuvelu is the CEO and President of UCBOS Inc. He has over 25 years of global business operations, management consulting and SCM solution architecture experience in the Retail, Manufacturing, FMCG, Food & Groceries, Pharmaceutical and Distribution industries. He has assisted many software vendors who are leaders in the Gartner Magic Quadrant such as Manhattan Associates, Oracle, and others, and TOP Global Consulting firms such as, KPMG and others in Digital Maturity, Supply Chain Transformation and Modernization journeys. He helps customers develop their Composable Enterprise, Cloud, Omni-Channel and Digital transformation roadmaps focused on Supply Chain, Fulfillment and Customer Experience. He has served over 100 Tier-1 Manhattan Associates’, Oracle and ITOrizon customers in designing and implementing SCM solutions around the world. Connect with Shan on LinkedIn.

Venkat Gopalan is Chief Technology, Data & Digital Officer at Belcorp, where he is responsible for leading the beauty multinational’s digital transformation and enabling the company’s corporate and sustainability strategy through technology. Venkat has more than 22 years of experience leading large-scale global technology organizations in companies that have achieved exponential growth. He has led transformation programs for Fortune 500 companies such as Estée Lauder, Sephora, Nike, Walmart, Target & AT&T, among others focused on retail, CPG and e-Commerce. Connect with Venkat on LinkedIn.

Hosts

Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

Allison Giddens

Host, Supply Chain Now

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Adrian Purtill

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.

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Joshua Miranda

Marketing Specialist

Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more.  In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.

Patch Reilly

Data Analytics and Metrics Intern

Patch is a fourth-year Management Information Systems and Marketing major at the University of Georgia. He is working with Supply Chain Now in data analysis, finding insights and best practices to increase company efficiency. Patch previously worked as an intern at AnswerRocket, a data analytics company where he gained invaluable knowledge about analytics, webpage SEO and B2B marketing best practices. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, going to concerts, and watching movies.

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Vicki White

Controller

Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.

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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.

From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.

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Allison Giddens

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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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Greg White

Principal, Supply Chain Now
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 transitioning from active duty in the US Army. 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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