Although the capabilities of technology have changed a lot over the last few decades, corporate mindsets towards it have not. For example, thinking that putting a new system in place will cover all business requirements once and for all is an outdated way of thinking. Technology and digitalization should be seen as a journey, one that will go on as long as a company continues to operate.
Lyle Ekdahl is a self-described “recovering enterprise software development executive and technology market advisor.” He has over 38 years of experience in enterprise applications development, industry technology and product strategy, product management, marketing, and program management. During that time, he perfected his ability to communicate the value of enterprise applications and articulate unique digital technology visions.
In this livestream appearance, sponsored by Nextworld, Lyle provides a retrospective of the ERP solutions and technologies landscape with hosts Scott Luton and Greg White and a live Supply Chain Now audience:
• The two major attitudes towards new technology – and which one sets the organization up for more success
• The strong correlation he sees between reinvention, transformation, and the opportunity to achieve sustained growth
• How changes in technology intersect with other trends like the scarcity of labor and access to capital to drive innovation
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Scott Luton (00:33):
Hey. Hey. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, wherever you are. Scott Luton and Greg White here with you on Supply Chain Now. Welcome to today’s livestream. Greg, how are we doing today?
Greg White (00:42):
See that? I came prepared.
Scott Luton (00:46):
Always planning ahead.
Greg White (00:47):
I was trying to find a new way to sneak that in. You know what I mean? What do they call that? A bro? I didn’t do that.
Scott Luton (00:54):
Big week of content continues. Big show today. Are you ready for this, Greg?
Greg White (00:59):
Yeah. I’m excited about this. I love the way that you’ve coined this phrase. I’ll let you get it out there. But it’s always good to get someone from the inside to be able to tell us about the facts, the truths, the opportunities, and even the warts of technology and how companies are embracing, adapting, adjusting.
Scott Luton (01:23):
Yes. So eloquent there. Well, as you mentioned, today’s show, we’re kicking off a new mini-series here entitled Decoding Digital Transformation, sponsored by our friends at Nextworld. So, today’s show, Greg, as you’re alluding to, is the first of three installments. And we’re going to be focused today on the critical question – the critical question – How did we get here? All with a big time guest in Lyle Ekdahl. Greg, we’ve really enjoyed the pre-show conversations and I think our audience is in for a treat, huh?
Greg White (01:52):
Yeah. Agreed. I am looking forward to it. Lyle is going to be an interesting conversation.
Scott Luton (01:58):
Yes, it will. But, folks, we’re going to hear from law, we’re going to hear from Greg. We want to hear from you too. So, use that chat function in the sky seats to let us know what you think as we work through today’s conversation. Now, Greg, are you ready for me to introduce a little bit? I want to foreshadow some of Lyle’s background before we bring him on. Are you ready?
Greg White (02:16):
Yeah. Let’s do it.
Scott Luton (02:18):
Wonderful. And, folks, goodness gracious, Joshua and Chandler, Arizona; Enio from Boston, Joanne from New Jersey. Hey, Mary Kate is with us back today. Welcome everybody. Looking forward to hearing from you all.
Scott Luton (02:28):
So, our guest today, as I mentioned, y’all are in for a treat. Lyle Ekdahl is a recovering enterprise software executive. He’s an accomplished executive that’s worked at big companies, Microsoft, Oracle, J.D. Edwards/PeopleSoft, and many others. And get this, Greg, our guest has sold on every continent except Antarctica, as you might expect.
Greg White (02:50):
Antarctica is a tough market, let me tell you. Penguins are discerning buyers.
Scott Luton (02:55):
Oh, man. And he’s worked with companies across all industries. So, in for a treat. Let’s welcome in our guest here today – featured guest – Lyle Ekdahl. Hey. Hey. Lyle, how are you doing?
Lyle Ekdahl (03:09):
Is that all I need to do, Greg, to be professional?
Greg White (03:13):
Scott Luton (03:13):
Well, we needed that. And those red shades, I’m so disappointed you didn’t bring those red shades, Lyle, that we had in the promo shot. We’ll save that for the next show. How about that?
Lyle Ekdahl (03:23):
You bet. You know, those are actually from a customer, an Italian glass maker that used to be a customer of mine when I was in Oracle.
Scott Luton (03:31):
Really? Well, I can only imagine the stories there. And we’re going to glean a few stories and critical insights, valuable insights here today. But before we get there, I’m going to start. Greg, we learned a little about Lyle in these pre-show conversations, and we found out that in some of your free time, you write music. So, Lyle, today, as you may know, is National Margarita Day. There’s going to be parades everywhere. That takes my brain directly to, of course, Jimmy Buffett. But I’m going to ask you and Greg – starting with you, Lyle – what artists or songs come to your mind when you think of the word margaritas?
Lyle Ekdahl (04:07):
Well, when I think of the word margaritas – I guess I’d go in a completely different direction here – I do not like to waste away. So, I think directly to some of the great progressive music that I enjoy and that I attempt to write. So, when you think of Margaritaville, when you think of margaritas, you think of limes, salt, and sun. And to me, that sets up a really interesting potential modal interchange. So, you’ve got your salt with – I mean, you got your wine, let’s start there. You got your wine, and that can be somewhat bitter, so maybe Aeolian mode, minor mode, little sadder. And then, you move into the salt. Salt, the spice of life, that’s maybe more major or maybe even a little Dorian mode in there. And then, finally, you get the sun very bright, so you’re going to sharp one of your steps in your scale and, therefore, you’re in the Phrygian mode. And so, to me, that margarita is the perfect progressive song.
Scott Luton (05:17):
Okay. Man, Greg, that’s got to be one of our most thought out expertly responded to fun warm-up questions we’ve had.
Lyle Ekdahl (05:26):
Yeah, in the 30 seconds you gave me. My next team gesture. You’re rough.
Scott Luton (05:32):
So, Greg, what comes to your mind?
Greg White (05:35):
Yeah. Clearly, not as skilled a musician as Lyle’s. But that’s very impressive, all of those various scales and whatnot. So, all I have to say, when I think of margaritas, I do think of Jimmy Buffett. But not Margaritaville. I mean that song, I was just a kid or baby when that song came out in 1977. But it really launched him to fame. And it’s interesting, you know, some of the songs that have come along since or have been rejuvenated over his career. I mean, one of the most prolific songwriters and real estate developers.
Greg White (06:11):
I don’t know if you know this, Scott, there are whole housing development called Margaritaville, or there’s one at Hilton Head called Latitudes. So, it’s a 55 and up neighborhood and you can drive golf carts. Now, just imagine sitting at a bar called Margaritaville with your golf cart. You’re driving home to your pink, purple, yellow, or green home, it’s like Key West on the mainland. It is absolute mayhem. And they’re constantly hauling golf carts out of ponds and off the curbs.
Lyle Ekdahl (06:44):
I think Bill Murray got in trouble for that one time, didn’t he?
Scott Luton (06:49):
I think you’re right. I think probably one of many things he got in trouble doing. So, I think of J. Buffet too. And I love y’all’s answers. We need a whole show dedicated to National Margarita Day. But there’s a great documentary on Netflix, I think it’s called Parenthood, as you might expect. Because the community in the kind of the modern sense of what he has built a following, it is amazing what people do as part of the Parenthood nation. All right.
Scott Luton (07:15):
So, now that we’ve had a little fun – thank you Lyle, by the way, for playing and indulging, as you and Greg both – so Lyle on the frontend as we welcomed you in, I kind of cherry picked some aspects. Accord, it doesn’t you justice given your distinguished and successful career. Two-part question for you as we start. So, as a recovering enterprise software development executive, tell us a little more about your background. And number two, is, what are you hearing from companies really across industries today, Lyle?
Lyle Ekdahl (07:45):
Okay. Well, we’ll start with, you know, I chose that moniker because I wanted a way of saying that I’m retired without really being retired. I don’t like to work. But I do like to talk, I like to read, and I like to interact with people that are using business and technology. I did flirt with starting my own 12-step program for people like myself that have spent the better part of four decades in the crosshairs of business and technology application, but I put that aside. Now, maybe since there’s going to be some tech layouts, maybe I should restart that. But I take it back to the mid-’80s, I was a practitioner. I did a lot of building and running of econometric models and systems, a lot of regression analysis stuff, cost schedule control systems, administrative contract, administrative systems.
Scott Luton (08:38):
So, you were big data, Lyle, before big data was a thing, sound like it.
Lyle Ekdahl (08:41):
Yeah. Big data before big data was a thing. A lot of statistics and analysis of that type. And then, for some reason, I got this weird bug that it’s just I love this technology part so much, I want to be part of the revolution that’s happening. So, when the ’90s hit, I sort of made a move into legit – well, as legit as you can be when you’re doing startups. So, there’s a whole series of startups in there. Met some larger companies along the way. But it really transitioned from networking, network design, and build out to information systems, solution providing across basic functions, customer information kinds of management systems, which later became CRM, even did some sales automation work. Call centers were really big in the ’90s, so there’s a lot of call center automation in my background as well there.
Lyle Ekdahl (09:34):
I even then tried my hand at doing another startup, which was my own independent consulting, where I really talked to a whole set of different vendors across different automation platforms including, auto based, autometrics-based platforms, that sort of things. And then, in the 2000s, I got sucked into what I call that J.D. Edwards PeopleSoft Oracle vortex. So, you know, had a few stints of big corporate life, but this was all in. Big mergers acquisitions, obviously, that occurred through those eras. I started off doing product strategy within that center of companies. And, eventually, I ended up inheriting all chronic development responsibility for the J.D. Edwards set of products and all that implies.
Lyle Ekdahl (10:24):
And then, through my career at Oracle, eventually became an SVP of product management, where they throw a whole lot of other responsibilities on you. So, not only was I running J.D. Edwards, but I was dabbling in a bunch of program management across other ERP lines at Oracle. Oracle has multiple ERPs. People should notice that. And then, later on did a cloud development for vertical extensions, that sort of thing. So, that’s a bit of my quick background.
Scott Luton (10:49):
Lyle, if I can really quick – because the second part of this question is what you’re seeing across the industries – Greg, given all the different sectors and models and industries he’s been in, this is going to be intriguing. I think it’s very holistic in terms of Lyle’s background. Wouldn’t you agree?
Greg White (11:06):
Yeah. No doubt. I mean, you probably touched a ton of different types of enterprises, manufacturers, retailers just based on who you’ve talked to, distributors, every aspect of that. And I think all the way from the nascent days of ERP before it was even called ERP, or when they were still trying to establish that terminology. All the way through the maturation of the big ERPs and then these sort of cloud native ERPs that exist out there today. And from the days when ERP was just a finance system to all the things that it came to encompass over the years, either through development or acquisition, depending on what company you’re talking about.
Lyle Ekdahl (11:51):
Right. It became a little like the Borg, didn’t it? Well, it had to be fed, so it was growing and growing.
Scott Luton (12:00):
Lyle and Greg, we’re going to dive into that in just a moment. It’s perfect timing. And the Borg is such a great reference. A couple quick comments. Seham – a big fan “Product is awesome. So is Oracle.” She’s a big fan of maybe your previous work. And Chris says, “Fellow recovering enterprise rep.”
Greg White (12:16):
Hey, I love that notion of the [inaudible].
Lyle Ekdahl (12:21):
I’m going to start this 12-step program.
Greg White (12:28):
It probably takes one, Lyle.
Lyle Ekdahl (12:27):
Scott Luton (12:28):
So, before we dive into what you and Greg were just alluding to, really, as you see businesses out there across industries, what are a couple of your observations, especially given your background, Lyle?
Lyle Ekdahl (12:41):
Well, I have a simple way of viewing the world. Life is a bell curve.
Greg White (12:47):
Spoken like a true statistician.
Lyle Ekdahl (12:50):
And within all the different customers over all the different things I’ve done, really, this bell curve is characterized kind of 50-50. You’ve got half of it where technology is a necessary evil. It’s all about cost containment. It’s all about – I love the term sweat the asset. We’re going to put a bunch of money in here and then let’s sweat that asset, do nothing for the next two decades. So, that’s sort of half your market. And there is that mindset out there. Now, obviously, there’s shades of grays, you move towards the middle.
Lyle Ekdahl (13:31):
But then, there’s this other side, this flip side that says, you know, systems are there to help us accomplish great goals, big goals to help fuel our growth as a company. And we’re going to use technology as a way to help us differentiate ourselves in the marketplace. And so, customers, what you hear is some form of that dichotomy all the time. And you really know what you’re dealing with, what the characterization of the company is. Some of this breaks down by industry. But, really, it’s a characterization of the company itself and have they embraced technology in concert with business or is technology there to just merely serve the business and drive productivity. Like, drive costs, get all the costs down, especially on the administrative side to near zero.
Scott Luton (14:30):
All right. So, Greg, when I hear Lyle say that, it takes me to several of your mantras. You know, what comes to your mind, though, as Lyle kind of talked about what’s going on out there in the industry?
Greg White (14:43):
Well, I’ve always thought of technology as just a hammer. It’s a better hammer than the hammer you had before. And it is subject to exactly this, the foundational principles of the growth model of the company, whether you are sweating the asset – which is a great term. Very cool – or whether you are truly growing or you’re somewhere in between. And many companies seem to be struggling with simply trying to get additional efficiency in getting over the middle of the bell curve towards the we really see this as a lever to grow our business.
Greg White (15:23):
I wonder though, I’m curious, Lyle, as you’ve observed this over four decades or so, have you seen the bell curve shift in any way more towards the enabling growth? Is the long tail lesser on the sweating the asset aspect of it? I’m just curious. I don’t realize —
Lyle Ekdahl (15:42):
No. I think that long tail is still there. I definitely see that. But, yeah, I think there is an awakening, is what I would say, that there is a different journey because the landscape has changed so much. But that there’s actually a journey here that’s implied. And it used to be so much about destination, “Hey, if we get to this point, this is a real kind of post Y2K thing.” We’re going to drive to this point. We’re going to put in place this modern system. It’s going to retain our costs. It’s going to be the central repository of all of our information. And it’s going to provide us sort of the business process cut. It’s going to constrain how people do things within the company and then we’ll be just perfect. And then, we can leave it alone.
Scott Luton (16:36):
Greg White (16:39):
Lyle Ekdahl (16:41):
There’s an awakening that maybe that mindset is a little broken.
Scott Luton (16:47):
So, I want to share two quick thoughts. First off, we’re talking about recovering executives, recovering students of ERPs as T-Squared points out.
Greg White (16:54):
The implementers and practitioners of ERP.
Scott Luton (16:58):
Right. And then, the other thing is a little backdrop because we’re moving now into your take on what ERP is now. But I think backdrop, you might would agree here, capital more and more is becoming more scarce and scarce. We’ve all seen some of the numbers, the deals, numbers changing. And, of course, the challenge of the talent market. Talent scarcity is something that we’re all struggling with as well. Lyle, would you agree with that? And then, let’s move forward —
Lyle Ekdahl (17:21):
Yeah. I would say those are two huge elements that have shifted the competitive landscape from one that used to be much more sector or even industry-focused to now being cross-industry, cross-sector to get that great talent to be able to capitalize your dreams and vision. It’s scarce. And on top of that, we’re pouring the gasoline of newer technologies that are really coming to fruition and mainstream viability so much quicker than they did when we all started on this journey, say, 40 years ago. And it makes for a very unsettling landscape. Unless you have agility, unless you have built systems that have that agility in mind, it’s going to be very difficult for you to sort of sustain the status quo. It’s a going out of business plan. Maybe not quite that dark, but it is a little dark because it’s the road to irrelevancy.
Scott Luton (18:29):
Okay. So, let’s cling to that status quo. You’re already kind of talking to maybe perhaps what you’re thinking about ERP as it stands today. But speak more to that and then also speak to, Lyle, ERP, how much has it changed or has it really changed maybe over the last 10 or 20 years. Your thoughts, Lyle.
Lyle Ekdahl (18:47):
Okay. So, let’s just get right into it now. This is Supply Chain Now. This is where I have a tendency to overcomplicate. So, let me take a step back and I’ll oversimplify it first. ERP today has a negative side and a positive side. And I have no shortage of POV on this. But on the negative side, ERP is plagued by a branding and positioning issue that is being exacerbated by – what I call – the big box vendors and their drive to sort of continue to reinvent like for like kinds of feature functions. And then, there are also this set of generational issues that was set, the consumers and the practitioners, that are underscored then by this rapidly shifting techno business landscape.
Lyle Ekdahl (19:38):
So, the result is a state of a lot of overpromise, a lot of over-investment, under delivery, frankly, underutilized, mostly meaningless continuous feature function explosion. And it’s led to inertia, frankly, for a lot of companies that sit in this landscape. The decreasing return on investment in these like for like efforts that they go through. And at the end, zero real differentiation for most customers using these systems. That’s pretty negative.
Lyle Ekdahl (20:21):
On the positive side, I have never been more excited about the potential for ERP to not just enable companies to seek those new levels of productivity and asset utilization, but to drive new levels of customer satisfaction and, frankly, sustainable growth. And it’s all based on the technology that’s coming to bear on the market.
Scott Luton (20:45):
Okay. That’s a fair, Greg, two-sided coin there that Lyle shared. Your thoughts, Greg?
Greg White (20:51):
Yeah. I think the classical legacy traditional ERP is a slave to the era in which most of it was built and designed, which is late ’60s and early ’70s, the product did substantially nothing out of the box. And so, big accounting firms built big practices to take the core, the platform, whatever you want to call it, to build functionality on top of that. I mean they started out as, basically, a finance system, most ERPs did. And if somebody needed something, then Arthur Andersen back in the day, or whatever the heck they were called, IBM, whoever implemented these things back in the ’60s, ’70s, and 80s, they built a bunch. And then, the technology companies became a slave to that process because a company that makes a hundred million or 400 million or a billion or 4 billion dollars implementing a technology is not going to continue to promote that technology unless they can continue to make that kind of money. And so, it stymied, in a way the development or the systemization of a lot of processes that ERP could have put in place probably of frustration – that Lyle personally experienced, I’m guessing. I knew a lot [inaudible] experienced it – because they were like, “No. Let’s not go too far because we have to let our partners have a business here.” And that became the status quo.
Greg White (22:15):
And what we’re seeing with the generation shift, that Lyle has alluded to, is exactly the opposite. Starting with generation X – that’s all of us here I presume – and Y and Z, we are expecting a more configured rather than customized scenario, in some cases, as we go into generation Y and Z, millennials and Gen Z. They’re expecting it to be substantially amplified, where the damn thing works right out of the box and it does what you want it to do or with the flip of a couple of switches, it does what you want it to do. And that is the transition. And to Lyle’s point, that is the evolution stage that some of these, I think, largely cloud-based ERPs are coming to. That is going to be a beautiful thing. It’s also going to be significant transition for the big ERP companies because it is going to disintermediate at some point all of these big practices that make billions and billions of dollars creating customizations of core technologies.
Lyle Ekdahl (23:18):
Yeah. I think you’re absolutely right, Greg. I think there is a big coming disintermediation. And vendors and providers are going to end up playing their role within a layer, is what I would say. And underscoring all this will be a platform that allows companies to compose what their ERP solution becomes very easily – very quickly and very easily without a whole lot of, you know, detailed coding expertise.
Scott Luton (23:53):
Yeah. So, let’s keep going down. You know, Greg was kind of talking about where we’re headed next for that matter, how are companies responding to the need and the desire to evolve that business and, really, what I would say, meet some of those expectations, Greg, that you laid out there. So, Lyle, walk us through that. How are you seeing these companies respond to changing needs, expectations, and the outcomes that they have to get?
Lyle Ekdahl (24:17):
Yeah. So, what I would say, Scott, is this is really based all on observing customers, thousands and thousands of customers. And you can take that continuum that we started with, with the line down the middle. Let’s go ahead and create a matrix out of that, a classic two-by-two. And what it really defines for us is four patterns. Four patterns of customer mindset behavior when it comes to their systems.
Lyle Ekdahl (24:47):
On the left side – we sort of talked about that – that was that traditional stuff. The right side, is new, new thing. Easy way to lay it out. Down in our bottom left hand corner, you got the maintainers. These are the people that they’re sweating that asset. ERP is just there to make sure that our administrative functions are done as efficiently as possible. Related to those guys on top of that are people that are the re-engineers. We’re going to take what you maintainers are going to do and we’re going to recast it and keep recasting it. “Boy, we can fix that GL.” You know what I mean? “And we’re going to recast that in different technical lights all the time.
Lyle Ekdahl (25:35):
The other two patterns that are more associated with innovation and differentiation are the transformers. Those people that are actually using technology to change the way they do business. And then, the reinventors, and those are the ones that have these agile processes that allow them to not just change the way they’re doing business, but the business that they’re doing. So, if you can look at the left hand side as the supply curve and the right hand side as the demand curve – simple way to think about it – what we really want to do is get companies to go on a journey where they’re not just shifting the supply curve out, but they’re changing that demand curve and taking that to a different plane, shifting that up and to the right.
Lyle Ekdahl (26:31):
And those are the four patterns that I see. I mean, inherent in this is this conflict and what is ERP? Is it dessert topping or a floor wax? But, you know, I think we’re getting beyond that, especially as people move to that transforming and reinventing stage and mindset.
Scott Luton (26:54):
Greg, I want get you to respond to these four quadrants that Lyle mentioned, the maintainers, the engineers, the transformers, the reinventors. All that’s missing maybe is the musketeers. Greg, respond to how Lyle laid that out. I love that.
Greg White (27:09):
Yeah. I think you said it earlier, Lyle, you said if we get to this point then we’ll do something else. That is the mindset of the maintainers and largely of the re-engineers. They are certain that there is anywhere for them to go. It’ really is a business mindset for them, and I think that prompts the kind of approach that they take to, not just ERP, but technology generally. They’re the most fortunate to sell a configurable cloud native technology in 2011, which sounds like it was a million years ahead of its time. Honestly, I felt like we were about 11 years late. But having experienced the inertia that Lyle has talked about with those maintainers and re-engineers, they’re not trying to improve their business. Think of them as your grandparents. They’re in wealth protection mode, buying bonds, and keeping their money in savings accounts so that there is no volatility in the business. And, basically, riding it out until the inevitable end that they see of their business.
Greg White (28:17):
And then, you get on the other side of the curve, to the transformers and especially the reinventors, the reinventors are really sort of transcendent to this whole thing. But those two mindsets are more we can expand this business or even change this business to be something different than it is. And this technology enables us to do that by giving us information. In some cases, improving productivity but also giving us insights into the business that we otherwise wouldn’t have had. And that’s what I see here as a difference is, really, the line between growth mindset and grandparent mindset is kind of the top of the bell curve, I imagine, of these companies that are some way out on the growth end and others way back on the maintaining the status quo.
Scott Luton (29:05):
Thank you, Greg. I’ll tell you, y’all two are vibing. We need about six more hours with Lyle and Greg.
Lyle Ekdahl (29:13):
I was going to say —
Scott Luton (29:15):
We’re going to get it all figured out, really.
Greg White (29:16):
Six hours of – isn’t that what we retired from, Lyle, or recovered from? Six hours —
Lyle Ekdahl (29:23):
Greg, we could get some margaritas. Yes. Sit around on the fire and talk about that.
Greg White (29:28):
Now, I’m all in.
Scott Luton (29:29):
And figure it all out.
Scott Luton (29:30):
All right. So, let me depart for a second. Lyle, I want to come back to you and do a follow up on these four phases. But before I do that, we’ve had some great comments here, really quick. Seham is responding to that talent scarcity we mentioned earlier. She says, “Many say talent is hard to find, but systems like Oracle just need a little bit of playing with. I’m not an IT pro and didn’t know how to use it until day one of work but leveraged ERP quickly for plant BOM.” What respectable opinion there for sure, Seham. And congrats on figuring that thing out, for sure. Chris says, “Enter ERP marketplaces and system integrators finally accepting best of breed.” Now, that seemed a lot of folks agreed with his comment there. And then, Randy says, “Agree, Greg. Team members want it to work out of the the box. However, with a big BUt. When we need to customize, we want to change using a no-code requirement.”
Scott Luton (30:21):
And then, finally, Enio or maybe Dr. Velazco – I don’t know if I said that right. Thanks for joining us – “Lyle, I had always assumed that the transformers included the reinventors.” So, I’m going to take that comment, I want to go back to those phases here, Lyle. Is there a big difference between where companies are in these four patterns and where they want to be?
Lyle Ekdahl (30:43):
Yeah. I would say for the most part, yes. Again, we’ve talked a lot about sort of that lower right and conquering down, and we don’t need no reinvention around here until I retire. So, let’s set that aside. We need to look across the other quadrants – one of your commenters really sort of hit it – there is an affinity across those other quadrants and there is an implied journey there. So, in reality, we do have to come to grips with a couple things. First, I think most people recognize that there is a strong correlation between the reinventors and the transformers, I would say, to agree those that are going to think cloud first, mobile first. There’s a correlation between that and sort of high achievement and more sustainable growth. The number today is still relatively small is what I would say. Although, maybe your audience skews towards that, given what I hear Greg talking about. But there is that long tail out there, and we did talk about that.
Lyle Ekdahl (31:49):
At the end of the day, I think most companies have a goal. And that goal is not to become irrelevant. Nobody wants to be irrelevant. I will tell you that buying aging parts for your AS/400 on eBay – you know, which I’ve had customers that were doing that – or even clinging to a vendor prescribed best practice circa Y2K is, really, again, that road towards zero relevance. And I think people are moving from that sort of vast middle into more of the transforming, reinventing quadrants. And I think that’s represented by your audience.
Lyle Ekdahl (32:28):
I mean, the important thing to note here is that we have crossed the Rubicon. Technology is embedded in everything we do and in every business process. And so, you can’t deny it anymore. And so, the key is how do you harness it? There’s no saying I used to use a technology so powerful, it can be used for good or evil. What I would say is jump on it, lean into it, learn it – like one of your commenters said – and apply it. And then, you can control it and you will drive your business to that desired goal.
Scott Luton (33:10):
And we’re going to be talking about that desired goal in just a second. But I got to go back to this analogy, and, yes, TSquared – who holds down the fort for us on YouTube – this is a brain picking session. And if they had the guitars, they might add some guitar plucking session too. But you know, Greg, Lyle mentioned the road to irrelevance. Some folks are shooting down that road like it’s I20 and they’re doing 85 miles an hour headed towards irrelevance, maybe less and less so, perhaps, due to the transformation and how the market and the opportunities to embrace new technology is out there more and more. Greg, respond to Lyle’s comments there a minute ago. And then, we’re going to get to both of you, especially Lyle, talking about what the answer here is. Greg.
Greg White (33:51):
Well, to your question, which is are companies companies where they want to be, I’m not even sure many companies can realistically assess where they are. There is a certain amount of cognitive dissonance in every company. You’re always more or less progressive, more or less innovative than you actually think you are. And regardless of what you put on the wall, you could be one of those companies that is completely stagnant and think that you’re growing. You could be feigning it because, as I said, you could be in wealth protection mode. I’ve seen many of those businesses where the main goal – and this is important as Lyle’s been talking about – of the company was to just make sure that the owner got a new Mercedes or new pickup truck every year.
Greg White (34:39):
But I think the important thing to think about, as we talked about, is people continue to bring up the technologies, blockchain, and no code, and all of that. That’s not what’s important here. ERP is not what’s important here. What’s important here is that you align technology, as Lyle said earlier, with the goals of your business. And then, you figure out where that technology solves approximate problem to advance or maintain – Lyle, right? – your business where you want it to be or where you want it to go. But I think what’s important, and I think what’s an important realization and evolution of business people’s understanding of technology is simply that, some are there, some aren’t there, but it’s just a hammer. It’s a bigger, faster, hotter hammer. And if you’re swinging at the wrong thing, it doesn’t matter that you’re driving nails faster. So, the understanding of what you’re going [inaudible] technologies fit in that.
Lyle Ekdahl (35:39):
Yeah. Let’s do a bad thing really fast.
Greg White (35:40):
Sorry. Go ahead, Lyle.
Lyle Ekdahl (35:43):
I said let’s do a bad thing really fast.
Greg White (35:45):
Yeah. Exactly. I know you’ve had those kind of implementations. We were talking about this just the other day and, you know, a lot of ERPs take a lot of heat for implementations gone bad. But there is plenty of blame to go around. And you’ve got to recognize that the companies that are implementing this technology, they have to take charge of that process. They cannot sit back and be subject to what someone outside their business – either the implementation consultants or the technology company – believe. Because even with the goodness in the hearts of all of those people – and there is, I believe, substantial goodness in those people’s hearts – they don’t know the intricacies of the business and they often are not getting full communication as to the real goals of the business in implementing these technologies. And that’s where these things go awry.
Scott Luton (36:32):
Yes. All right. So, to finish this thought, I think we’re all kind of on the same page, because as y’all been talking about, it’s not good enough to go faster because you could be going faster in the completely wrong direction. I think Greg learned that lesson from an uncle in Kansas as he was learning to drive a few years back.
Scott Luton (36:48):
But, Lyle, let’s move on. You clearly given your holistic background, successful background across all sorts of technologies and different models. It sounds like you’ve arrived at what the answer is out there for where we are here, 2023.
Greg White (37:04):
It’s social awareness.
Scott Luton (37:06):
Yes. So, we’re about to have an epiphany. So, tell us about, in your view, what’s the answer or at least a big part of it and, equally as important, why is it so important for companies to get where they want to go, especially when you consider those four quadrants you laid out earlier? So, what’s the answer, Lyle?
Lyle Ekdahl (37:24):
I think the answer today lies in the notion of an enterprise application platform. So, something that allows for the various levels of value, those that are sort of horizontal feature functions, that maybe you shouldn’t be re-engineering every seven years, that allows those to be maintained, at the same time allows you to focus your attention on your industry and where you’re going to make your money. Not just how you’re counting your money, but how you make your money. And allows you to apply technology – call it a hammer, if you will – to those things that allow you to better define how you make money and then how to differentiate yourself from those in your industry and your competitors across industry.
Lyle Ekdahl (38:24):
And so, it has to be aware of the foundational, but you don’t always have to start there. And I see that, to me, as one of the biggest problems. Well, we need to make this change in mindset. So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to throw out everything and go ahead and start at the bottom yet again. And I think for many customers that have moved beyond sort of that, you know, “Yeah. We installed it 20 years ago. We haven’t touched it,” those people have real technical debt. There’s no doubt about that. That’s a major issue that they have got to deal with. You know, 1986 called Who wants this system back?
Lyle Ekdahl (39:12):
But setting those people aside, for the rest of those that kind of re-engineer, reinvent, and transform are part of that overall journey, why not start with where it has the most impact for the business, where the biggest return is for the buck. And some of us in the industry refer to this as sort of, you know, edge in towards the enterprise. Like, we read for years and years, especially in the ’80s, that it was really bad to be inside-out focused. We should be outward-in focused. Well, why don’t we take that same approach with our systems? Because we know that’s where the biggest impact is for our companies. So, a platform that allows for that. Certainly, something that gives us that agility, that combines those with domain knowledge and good systems thinking with our coding brethren. So, it’s not like one is evil and so it shall all be no code. You need coders, you need engineers, trust me. But you also need those people that are very steeped in business and then also systems thinking to be able to work on that differentiation.
Lyle Ekdahl (40:08):
The other thing is best practices. Those are great when you have a deterministic system. When you’ve got a system where the rules are very set forth, like in your administrative functions, when you get into your industry capabilities or in your differentiated capabilities, you need to be more stochastic, you need to use creativity, you need to embrace those things. And a platform needs to be able to map to those abilities. So, really, at the end of the day, it is a holistic enterprise application platform that we can get to without having to completely rip out our infrastructure to begin with.
Scott Luton (40:55):
Okay. All right. So, I got to go back to your phrase – Greg, I’m going to get you a comment here in just a second – Lyle said 1986, that’s called Who wants this technology back. Because I sit here in my parachute pants getting ready to watch some 18 reruns tonight. That speaks to my soul.
Greg White (41:09):
Scott Luton (41:10):
Right. Going to a Menudo concert maybe. But, Lyle, wonderful. Greg, speak to that in terms of what’s the answer and a platform Lyle was kind of painting the picture in our minds. Your thoughts, Greg?
Greg White (41:21):
Yeah. I’m going to paraphrase another statement that somebody has made about tradition and I think very similarly about best practice, best practice is peer pressure from dead people.
Scott Luton (41:36):
Wow. That is great.
Greg White (41:37):
[Inaudible] best practice is simply maintaining. If you think about it, it’s often being a practice that has been in place. And I think particularly now where data is ever more present, ever more available, and ever more robust, and robustly processed to start thinking about various best practices that are constrained by the data or the capabilities of the times. Forecasting is a great example. We have long forecasted items don’t do anything. And yet we talk about them like they’re people. They have seasonality. They have trends. They have that. Look at any item that’s been in front of you this entire time, what has it done? Nothing. Items simply respond to the actions of people.
Greg White (42:24):
So, what should we be forecasting? We should be forecasting the movers and consumers of those products. That’s a foundational thing that needs to change. And now, today, for instance, with the data that’s available, it’s a lot easier to forecast, it ain’t easy. Or at least to use robust data so that when it is available we can have a better shot at forecasting the actual influencers on movement of products. That’s just one example. But I think there are other —
Lyle Ekdahl (42:52):
You know, Greg, I haven’t taken exception to much of what you said. No. I’m just going to pick on a little piece here. The items themselves, yes, the items themselves are not people. But they’re becoming more intelligent. And they’re being embedded with intelligence, with the ability to generate more levels of data ever before thought possible. That is a huge fundamental impact to business models – huge – and how we view systems and how we interact.
Greg White (43:32):
And it does. I think that informs things like forecasting or whatever you [inaudible].
Lyle Ekdahl (43:37):
Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Greg White (43:39):
That robustness of data, we could get really deep.
Lyle Ekdahl (43:46):
Data is not the harder [inaudible].
Greg White (43:44):
Lyle Ekdahl (43:47):
Data is the application at the end of the day.
Greg White (43:49):
So, the bigger point there really is that the robustness of data is one example of where it enables us to cease to use best practice and to start to develop and impart – and to your point, Lyle, there are lots of angles to attack this – new practice that is better than what we are calling practice today.
Lyle Ekdahl (44:14):
And it changes. Given the changing state of the world that we live in, it has to be evolutionary. It has to change over time. It’s not a one time thing. And it has to be informed by the data. And the data will be constantly changing. It’ll get richer, as we just said, and it will be constantly changing.
Scott Luton (44:33):
So, let me jump in here, we got a few minutes —
Greg White (44:37):
Scott Luton (44:38):
Yeah. Really, it is tough to have these conversations, big massive transformational conversations in an hour – really, less than an hour by the time we make introductions and whatnot. I want to share this quick comment from Kim Winter – our dear friend from Dubai – “Great show, team. Much of the tech wisdom is way above my pay grade.” Kim, kindred spirits, my friend. I feel you. I feel that in the bone. Great to have you here.
Scott Luton (45:01):
Okay. So, Lyle and Greg – Lyle, getting back to you here for a second. So, you mentioned the platform and you and Greg both have kind of spoken about the platforms required, where we are, and where we’re going so we’re not doing a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction towards the land of irrelevance that you were painting the picture of earlier. Anything else you want to expand on in terms of the concept of that platform, Lyle, and any thoughts you want to tee up for our next conversation? Because we got two more installments as part of this Decoding Digital Transformation coming. Lyle.
Greg White (45:34):
We’ll get the six hours, eventually, won’t we?
Lyle Ekdahl (45:33):
Yeah. I see a whole podcast series that’s like, you know, 20 installments long.
Scott Luton (45:41):
I like how you think, Lyle. I like how you think.
Lyle Ekdahl (45:45):
Yeah. I mean I think at the end of the day, platforms don’t tell you how to do business. They don’t put endless straight jackets on you. I mean, they’re not just this race towards the lowest common denominator. Yes, the horizontal big box vendors have their role. That’s important. But, again, I said that there’s this value of ERP capability that drives from administrative up through differentiated. And a platform will embrace that and give you the agility that you’re going to need, especially where you’re touching the market to try new things, to try, fail, change, and do what you have to do to map to your real goals. And as we talked about, it’ll be embedded with some of the modern technologies. And as new technologies come along, we haven’t seen the end of it. Because technology change is continuous, so it has to be able to support whatever’s next down the road. And I don’t have a perfect crystal ball. I couldn’t tell you. If I did, I would go to Vegas, I’d be done.
Scott Luton (46:46):
Are you sure? Red 19 is the one. Red 19 from my crystal ball. So, Lyle, we really spent most of this conversation kind of how did we get here in current state and status quo, including you and Greg both speaking about what we’ve got to embrace, and, really, What’s Next? which is the next installment. We’ll touch on that here towards the end. But I got just a couple final questions for you given the limited time. Lyle, I know you you got a jam-packed schedule. Let’s talk about the why, the call to action. So, can you very quickly highlight why it’s important for companies to make those changes that y’all both have been speaking to today when it comes to their enterprise applications approach? Lyle.
Lyle Ekdahl (47:26):
Yeah. I think we sent a bunch of this upfront, but it’s good to underscore it. It is imperative to change and it is more real and it’s more insidious than Y2K. It is incumbent in this notion of the scarcity of labor, the ability to get capital, the ability to deal with technological change because the rules of competition have been rewritten and there is no turning back. It’s only going to go forward. So, to me, while it’s not a, “Hey, you got to have this system in place by January 1st because of some marketing hype.” It’s not that. It’s that slowly but surely your competitors are the reinventors and they will eat your lunch and you will become irrelevant.
Scott Luton (48:29):
That’s a pretty powerful why, Lyle. Thank you very much. Greg, I want to give you in Reader’s Digest fashion, or a TikTok fashion, I should say, maybe, what’s your brief response to that why, Greg? And then, we’re going to make sure folks know how to connect with Lyle.
Greg White (48:43):
In a-minute-and-four-seconds. Amazon, ultimate reinventor and generational shift. I mean, look, I was once at a trade show where somebody said someone who ran a 50 million, I think it was, HVAC distributor, said, “I can’t see Amazon being able to do what we do.” Fortunately, they said that right up before I went on stage. And I said, “I can’t see them being able to do that either unless they have a free weekend. And you not being able to see it is precisely the problem.” Lyle, that is an excellent example of a maintainer, someone who can’t even see the future. Won’t even know their own business to know how easily duplicated it is with enough capital.
Greg White (49:27):
But, also, this huge generational shift – we keep talking about this – baby boomers have been retiring at 10,000 a day for – is it half-a-dozen years now? – and 3.1 million additional over that retired in 2021. The Great Resignation was not gen Zs, gen Xs, or Ys. It was baby boomers. And that is leading to what Lyle is alluding to, which is this incredible shift to which there is no going back. They ain’t coming back to the workforce, people. And a lot of the knowledge that leaves with baby boomers is never seen again because it’s not documented if it’s from that era prior to Y2K when processes weren’t documented, when they were half-technological and half-manual or whatever. And so, we have to embrace that this is changing. Also, embrace that these new generations don’t want to do the work that has been done, that we have held for people for so many years. And that’s why robotics and robotic process automation and other technologies are coming to the fore because people don’t want the dull, dark, dirty, dangerous, the mundane jobs out there. They know that technology can do it. They see it every day on their phone. And they like technology to do it.
Scott Luton (50:42):
Well said. Man —
Lyle Ekdahl (50:45):
I know you run a really tight show here, Scott.
Greg White (50:50):
Lyle, come on.
Lyle Ekdahl (50:52):
Twenty seconds. Twenty seconds.
Scott Luton (50:53):
Yeah. Yeah. Please. Sure.
Lyle Ekdahl (050:55):
Because it’s inventing what Greg just said, there are five techno business meta-trends that will fundamentally change the landscape over the next five years. They are, mass-automation empowered by RPA, but AI and ML. There will be an embracing of all users in the enterprise, real and imaginary, all the time across the physical and digital realm. Along with this, there will be mass decentralization fueled by nearfield computing types of technologies. There’s going to be a return to focus on how you make money. So, industry is going to become more and more important and differentiation through low-code, no-code, more important. Finally, that platform that underscores all this that can help you orchestrate and compose your ERP.
Scott Luton (51:50):
And that’s the platform that you and Greg both were alluding to earlier. That’s part of the answer moving forward. Okay. Lyle, I hate to leave it here and, really, I’d love to bolt on a few more hours and get you and Greg, and the Margarita, and Jimmy Buffet, and have a good old time solve a bunch of the world’s ills. But, Lyle, if folks want to kind of have this conversation with you, bringing you in as a keynote, are you still doing some consulting or [inaudible]?
Lyle Ekdahl (52:15):
Yeah, absolutely. So, I do some speaking. I consult with vendors, investors, customers on the impact of enterprise applications, and sort of what their characterization is within the matrix, and how they move towards higher value delivery of applications. And then, I sit on some boards of companies. So, best way to reach me is @lyleekdahl on Twitter, or on LinkedIn, lyle-ekdahl, E-K-D-A-H-L .
Scott Luton (52:45):
It’s just that easy. And we drop some of those in here in the chat. Appreciate everyone, love all the comments coming in. I agree. I love Lyles and Greg’s been there, done that, and where we’re going expertise. Lyle, big thanks. We look forward to having you back, I think, on the third installment of the series. We’ll touch on that here in just a second. But big thanks to Lyle Ekdahl, recovering enterprise software executive and a whole bunch more.
Lyle Ekdahl (53:08):
It should be fine. Looking forward to it. Swoosh me out.
Greg White (53:11):
Scott Luton (53:11):
Lyle Ekdahl (53:12):
Good to talk, guys.
Scott Luton (53:17):
Greg White (53:17):
Scott Luton (53:19):
It really was. We needed a bonus edition, like a big bonus edition of the show here today. Greg, I want to get your final takeaway, but, really, first, before we start to wrap, big thanks to Nextworld. Our friends over there are sponsors of this Decoding Digital Transformation series. Learn more about all the cool things they’re doing, move mountains and a lot more, at nextworld.net. And as I mentioned, our next installment, so episode two of this Decoding Digital Transformation is coming up April 27th, Greg. I don’t know, it’s going to be tough to top this first one. 12:00 noon Eastern Time on April 27th, we’re going to be learning from Greg Davis with Grant Thornton – of course, a big brand, big organization out there – focus on the topic of What’s Next? And then, third and final installment, we’re going to be bringing Lyle and Greg and Greg back together. So, that’s going to be lit up on the third and final installment. But, hey, join us on the second one on April 27th. I think we got the link in the chat.
Scott Luton (54:18):
Okay. Greg, as we wrap micro machine man style from the ’80s, that’s been one of the theme. I love Lyle’s comment about 1986 called Who wants this technology back? Your key thing that folks got to hear from the last hour, and then I’m going to wrap us and send us out.
Greg White (54:34):
Well, we talked about it towards the end, their platform. I think the whole notion that Lyle sort of stripped down to, its essence, is, don’t rip out everything and start all over again. There are ways to leave an ERP system doing what it does best, and that may be different based on your enterprise, but clearly it is finance and especially international finance coordination, let’s just say it’s that. And then, put a layer over that to capture all of that, those transactions and all that valuable data for which it is the single source of truth. And then, layer on to – I can’t remember whose point that was – best of breed type solution for some of those specialist areas. We’re seeing that more and more with ERP. And, also, expect it to be simple and expect to deliver the user experience in simplified fashion, because that is what is expected of the current and coming generations in the professional world. So, just be ready for that. I mean, if you see your kids, or if you’re a maintainer, your grandkids, out there on their phones, think about your ERP, your technology system, a cute little baby like that working on it, but being as simple as the phone that they have
Scott Luton (55:52):
Yes. I love it. And that was our friend, Chris Knapp, that you were alluding to there. Chris, great to have you here today. Clay and the whole team dropped that link to installment number two. It’s going to be jam packed and lit up. So, y’all join us for that. Folks, make sure you connect with Lyle. Make sure you venture over to nextworld.net and check out the cool things that Mark and the team over there are doing. A big thanks to Katherine, Amanda, Clay, Chantel, everyone behind the scenes part of production. On behalf of Greg, Scott Luton here signing off today challenging you to do good, to give forward, and to be the change. We’ll see you next time right back here on Supply Chain Now. Thanks everybody.
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.
Lyle Ekdahl is an accomplished executive with over 38 years of experience in enterprise applications development, industry technology and product strategy, product management, marketing, and program management having worked for companies such as Platinum Software Corporation, Microsoft, Siebel Systems and Oracle, JD Edwards/ PeopleSoft. As a Sr. Vice President of product development at Oracle, Lyle ran the JD Edwards business, oversaw program management for Apps Unlimited products as well as strategic customer programs for Cloud Applications, and pioneered the development of Cloud ERP vertical products. He is an award-winning presenter with a proven ability to communicate enterprise applications and digital technology visions. Lyle’s passion is the application of new technologies to help transform businesses into digital organizations supplying breakthrough results that drive high customer satisfaction. Connect with Lyle on LinkedIn.
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.
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.
Director of Communications and Executive Producer
Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys. She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Cisco, Microsoft, 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 University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier 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.
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.
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’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is a veteran of the US Army and cofounder of the Guam Human Rights Initiative. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.