Supply Chain Now Episode 538

“This year, the one thing that really slapped you in the face is that change is inevitable, but more important, it may approach from any direction.”

-Kevin L. Jackson, Host, Digital Transformers

In this episode of Supply Chain Now, Scott Luton sits down with Digital Transformers host, Kevin L. Jackson, as they discuss lessons learned from 2020 and what’s to come in 2021.

Intro/Outro (00:05):

It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world. Supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things. Supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts. Good afternoon, Scott loop. Now welcome to today’s episode

Scott Luton (00:33):

Episode. We’re kicking off a little mini interview series where we’re going to be gaining insights from each of our hosts here at supply chain. Now we’re going to be working really hard today’s episode to increase your business leadership. Accu, as we’re spending some time with the one only Kevin L. Jackson, Hey, quick, programming it before we get started. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to find it and subscribe for free wherever you get your podcasts. So you don’t miss conversations just like this. All right, no further ado. Let’s bring in our featured guests here today. Kevin L. Jackson, CEO of GC global net author of the bestselling book, click the transform and of course, host of one of our newest home run series here called digital transformers. Kevin, how you doing? Hey man. Thank you very much, Scott. Well, we really have enjoyed our collaboration going back to when we met at the dense CaVenT in February, 2019 before the world changed, and we only captured a few of the leadership roles you have, uh, in, in how we introduce you.

Scott Luton (01:35):

So, you know, you’ve made us better and you’ve certainly made us stronger, especially when it comes to digital transformation. And we’re excited about the year ahead. So great to spend time with you here today. No, my pleasure. We’re we’re going to start here. A lot of folks in our audience may already have a sense of who you are, but for the handful that don’t let’s, you know, tell us about yourself in a, in a nutshell. Well, you know, I you’re right. I do a lot of things. I just like, you know, being active. So I, uh, call myself an advisor or an educator and an author because I do work with a lot of large companies and helping them in redesigning their business models. And I teach for Tulane university or not. I’ll provide strategic consulting and integrated social media services to companies like at T and T and Intel Erickson and other leading companies.

Kevin Jackson (02:29):

As far as my background goes, I was a vice president at JP Morgan chase leading their global project management offers. I was a worldwide sales executive for IBM and FAIC. I was the director of cloud solutions. I’ve also done a lot of work in the federal government. I was in the Navy for two years. I was a carrier pilot, worked with the maybe space technology program. Also, uh, when I left, did some digital projects for NATO, the North Atlantic treaty organization and the intelligence community actually did go to school. I was, uh, I was, I was, uh, at a us Naval Academy, aerospace engineering, and I went to post-graduate school and computers and, uh, I have a master’s in national security with the Naval war college retired in 94 and I was working in space systems and, uh, I was a carrier pilot flying C two A’s and a E T, etc. E T C um, airborne early morning. So there’s a lot of different things,

Scott Luton (03:40):

Man. We could, we could spend the next six hours getting all of your stories from those, uh, the who’s who list of, of organizations you’ve worked with. So no wonder why you’re the go-to expert for digital transformation, other things here, and we’re pleased to have you as part of our team here at supply chain. Now, too, it goes without saying 2020 has been such a unique historically challenging insert your own cliche right there as you described the year, but it’s been an incredibly challenging year, but on the other side, you know, there’s, there’s always silver linings and it, this year has taught us so much from a business, a supply chain, a technology standpoint, that’s gonna make us better. And future years unique and ordinary years I’ll call it. But what’s been a couple of your let’s call it three key takeaways. When it comes to business here in 2020, what is, what is a year taught you?

Kevin Jackson (04:33):

Well, you know, when you, when you’re working in business, uh, you look at what happens in your business life, how you want to support your customers, how marketplace has changes. But this year, the one thing that really, you know, slapped you in the face is that change is inevitable, but more important. It may approach from any direction. It could be social upheaval. It could be a little bit of a virus. It could be anything. So not only will change happen, but you have to have your, as I said in the military, head on a swivel because it come from everywhere. And the second thing was, since change will come, you have to be a learning organization. Your business has to always understand what’s happening, evaluate what’s happening and analyze what’s happening because the learning organizations are the best prepared for the changes that are inevitable. And how, how do you be prepared for these changes? How do you learn where you have to maintain a diversity of world view? And I think that’s probably the third point. I want to highlight, uh, diversity of world view, diversity of business experience, a diversity of educated thought. That means a diversity in the people that are around you in your staff and your executives in your employees, because it’s that diversity that accelerates an organization’s transition to their new future state. So if you’re constantly changing, you gotta be constantly thinking, constantly communicating and constantly transitioning.

Scott Luton (06:41):

Excellent point there and study after study from those driven by the big four to the academic community, diversity, despite all the other good that it creates a goodness. It creates for organizations. If you look at it strictly as a bottom line, triple bottom line, figure it enhances and optimizes the bottom line returns of any organization. But you know what I also love and we were talking about earlier today on the live stream, is it also helps you identify those blind spots that we all have, regardless of what any walk of life, any professional walk alive or, or, or, or personal walk of life, we all have our blind spots. And by creating that diversity of thought, it helps us identify and then address those in a, in a successful way, right?

Kevin Jackson (07:25):

Yeah, absolutely. It’s looking, being able to see the environment from different shoes, from different perspectives and being able to understand and have empathy for others. That’s important. That’s critical to your success.

Scott Luton (07:43):

Great point. And certainly that’s one of the lessons that we’ve learned here from 2020 that I hope sticks. I can tell you from personal experience, you know, as, as we have webinars or live streams or, or video or whatever podcast, you know, you make that little glitch and you get frustrated and do it over. And, and, you know, however, everything has gone wrong in 2020, you’ve kind of breathe some fresh air into those productions. And, and really as has retaught us, what’s important. And, you know, it’s reintroduced some humanity and some authenticity to even public content that we deliver. And that’s been a, uh, a very welcome wave of honesty. So hopefully that sticks around.

Kevin Jackson (08:29):

Yeah, it’s important to, uh, recognize. And this is one thing that has done is the recognize that everyone is a person. There are humans and everything that you do, and it’s important for you to support the relationships that you build. Everyone builds different types of relationships. You have relationship with your family, with your business partner, do you relationships with strangers and you need to recognize that whatever relationship it is, it’s a two-way thing. And you have to support

Scott Luton (09:06):

Well, put as always Kevin speaking of we were just talking kind of a learning Eureka moments. We all have plenty of them, you know, sometimes day in and day out, but certainly weekend and week out, as you, as you recall your journey here in 2020, what’s been one important Eureka moment.

Kevin Jackson (09:26):

You know what the most quoted saying in 2020 was you’re on mute. That’s it that’s because everyone had to shift immediately to being online and using all of these collaboration tools. I mean, I don’t know if it’s, if it’s WebEx or if it’s team or if it’s zoom or whatever, right. Everyone had to jump on these, uh, collaboration technologies. And one thing I found is that people were hesitant. You know, you see people that don’t want to turn on their video because they don’t want to be seen. Maybe they’ve never used a tool. And these tools have been around for years. And what I found out that this was the Eureka moment. So many organizations were just playing lip service to embedding modern tools into their everyday business workflows. Wow. I mean, these tools have been around for years, but they’ve been sitting on the shell because there was no need to use them. Okay. And I talked to this one person, they said, you know, if I had known that I could just get online and talk to people and get my work done, I would have done it years ago. I say, well, why didn’t you? Well, I, I, nobody made me, you know, so, so it’s, it’s amazing how much more efficient and effective organizations could have become if they just use the technologies that were sitting on the shelf. Okay. When that’s what we’ve learned in 2020

Scott Luton (11:22):

Excellent point, you know, it’s, it’s interesting. I can remember maybe in college, or maybe, maybe in the last few years, everyone still talks about the technologies and the Jetsons, the cartoon. And one of them of course, was the video phone, wherever you were in. A Jetsons could always connect with people by video phone. When are we going to get that technology? Now? I thought it was supposed to already be here. And then of course now it’s when it’s really here in any way you want it really. Right. All of a sudden you’ve a video phone, video conference, fatigue, you know, you don’t want to always be seen. Yeah. Because you might, you might not be looking good that day or I be stressed. So I guess we all have to be careful what we ask for technology and otherwise

Scott Luton (12:05):

Right. Deliver. Yep.

Scott Luton (12:08):

All right. So speaking of what’s to come, you know, really have enjoyed the live streams and, and social commentary and, and, um, you know, our shows together just from a sheer digital transformation or a really a greater technology, uh, point of view, I always learn loads from what you share. So as you’re looking Kevin at 2021, what’s one thing you think our listeners and members of our global community should really keep our eyes on.

Kevin Jackson (12:36):

Well, I know we were just talking about how technology would just sitting on a shelf when people never used it. And then the pandemic came and organizations need to figure out how to get the job done without coming into the office. So everybody jumped on June, jumped on teams. Everyone started figuring out how to do their work. Remotely companies started investing into these, these technologies to help people maintain their relationships. Okay. But what’s going to happen in 2021 is some companies, some organizations will realize what they have learned and they will build on that learning. And they will start leveraging their technologies in more effective ways. And they will look at new technologies and they are continue their investments. And those companies will also realize that digital transformation is more than just technology. It’s really redesigning business models. And those companies will segment themselves from the others that just see digital transformation as technology.

Kevin Jackson (13:59):

And if they see it as well, that’s something that we had to do now, we’ll just go back to normal and there will be a rapid segmentation in the marketplace between companies that really transformed their business models and leverage technology to be more effective. And those that don’t those that think there is a quote back to normal and they will fall by the wayside. And we will see that. And you know, the spring or early summer of 2021, when, you know, we think, okay, wow, we have the, um, vaccine. We can start thinking about taking the mask off. We can start thinking about coming into the office, you know, and some companies will do that. Others will say, you know, we actually did a lot better when we were leveraging this technology. Yeah. We can come in the office sometimes, but just do it when we need to. Right. And those companies will become even more efficient, more effective in each industry. You will have companies that will continue to grow, continue to learn, continue to transform, and others that will sort of settle back into what’s normal

Scott Luton (15:25):

Thoughts. And I heard you say there, and one way or another first off, it is about business transformation. Not specifically. I mean, digital is part of that, but it’s the bigger picture. It goes beyond just a technology play. There is one of the things I heard you say. And then secondly, there surely is not a finish line just when you get to handle them. And maybe, uh, you know, as we’ve seen organizations successfully transform, but it doesn’t stop and you can’t rest on those laurels because consumers keep what they demand and how they demand. It continues to evolve as well as market conditions. In general.

Scott Luton (16:01):

This reminds me of the last lobstering we did when we had a T and T on board and a time drone Natallee, who was responsible for consumer interaction and that digital interaction at the end point. Right? And we said that you have to really focus on supporting your customers, your employees, and also your business partners. That is really the, the front tier that you have to focus on when it comes to digital transformation. And that will continually change. So any business that has either customers, employees, or business partners will have to continually train

Scott Luton (16:47):

Well. And to your point, unfortunately, if you look at retail, there’s been companies that have made the adjustment and made the very tough adjustment and found new ways to serve and meet consumer expectations. Right? And then on the flip side, we’ve seen no shortage of bankruptcies. I think this is 2020 is going to be the biggest year of bankruptcy for retail. And I would argue, well, I mean, just to generalize that, try not to paint a broad brush, but there are some companies that will be blaming their failure on the pandemic when really at the root cause is that they just refuse to accept the new reality that retail’s in and refuse to listen to their car.

Kevin Jackson (17:27):

Yeah. Or maybe even refuse to listen to themselves, you know, their own staff, their own executives. They refuse to look at what was happening with their bottom line and to take action on it. I mean, you can sit back and observe the change and choose to do nothing.

Scott Luton (17:47):

And that’s the choice. That’s right. Excellent point. Before we talk about what to expect with digital transformers in 2021, I want to put, I want you to put your professor hat on. I’m not sure what your title is at two lane, but I bet you and your students have some of the most fascinating conversations, especially, you know, given your experience and how much you’ve done in the quote real world. What are those interactions like? What, what are those exchanges with the up and coming, and maybe already here generation?

Kevin Jackson (18:17):

One of the things that I I recognize is that there is truly a sea change in world view. There’s a huge difference between now I’ll generation, my son’s generation and my daughters, my, my son and my daughter 12 years apart. Right. And there was so much different between the way they, they see things the way they accept things, the way they interact with society and that’s reflected, and the business leaders that are coming up, and we’re not, I teach either undergrad or grad school. The expectations are completely different. They expect these companies to be leveraging the advanced technologies. And they say, I’d go to this company and you can’t even do this. You can’t do that. You can’t do this. How can they really be in business? You talk about things like technical debt. And they say, well, what’s that? I said, well, it’s important to know because that’s why these companies aren’t changing.

Kevin Jackson (19:34):

Right? They’ve made these investments that they have to work off. Everything has a cost. The there’s a cost to not keeping up with the changes. And it’s up to you to, to understand not just the present, but the past as well. And knowing the present, expecting the future and understanding the past all important. And that’s some of the, uh, discussions that, that we have, you know, say, well, why did why the company’s doing it like this? And I said, well, because back in 1990, Oh, and this Lincoln, this, everything has a connection. And, and, and that’s what I really love about teaching. Right? Bringing up those connections, understanding the different views. But we talked about before that, that diversity of worldview

Scott Luton (20:31):

And, uh, in my, some of my recent last few years, as I’ve spoken to some classes, and as I participated, even in some high school, remote internships, which are led by some fascinating business leaders here in Atlanta, just want to think, I can’t get more surprised by sharp these young professionals or students are the next wave, you know, raises the bar. Do you, are you having similar experiences?

Kevin Jackson (20:56):

Yeah, absolutely. They, you know, they come out of left field, you know, why can’t you do it like this? And I said, Hmm, there’s no reason.

Scott Luton (21:06):

That’s great.

Kevin Jackson (21:08):

I had a little book. And I said, I’m going to take that to the next board meeting

Scott Luton (21:12):

And make us all better for sure. Um, all right. So let’s talk about digital transformers. One of our newest series here at supply chain. Now I know that you’re involved from, you know, as we already talked about books and other podcasts and live streams, you keep a busy schedule. So we’re pleased to have you a sliver of that here on the digital transformer series. What can our audience expect in that series? As we move into 2021,

Kevin Jackson (21:37):

Say I’m really excited about our collaboration because, you know, first of all, we all interact with multiple supply chains. The supply chain took a real hit at the beginning of the year with all of the changes with the global pandemic, with the way they broke down and how they are now being rebuilt across every industry. So that was one of the reasons I was really excited to be working with supply chain now, because you had the pulse of that supply chain and where it’s going. And I wanted to be part of that, that new change. And as we talked about earlier, there’s going to be a huge segmentation between companies that have learned from 2020 and that are implementing their, you know, their new future in 2021. And the companies that don’t, and that’s going to be quite apparent in the supply chain, how they make them, uh, leveraged digitalization in their supply chain, how they leverage communication and information, how they connect the suppliers with the end consumers and leverage that information flow in, in mind that information flow and more important verified that information flow. The other thing that we heard so much in 2020, other than you’re on mute was that’s

Kevin Jackson (23:22):


Kevin Jackson (23:24):

We are getting so much fake news and our everyday life, but fake news in the supply chain is catastrophic. So the suppliers, the vendors, and the consumers need to understand how to evaluate information that they’re getting, uh, about the products and services. And there’s a, there’s an information supply chain that has to be created and built. I really want to highlight that segmentation by showcasing companies that are leading the pack with respect to informing the entire supply chain, making it visible, making it transparent and leveraging that to create brand new business models. And I want to contrast their experience with the large majority that will be left behind. And I think that would, that would educate your audience and it would enable, you know, myself to apply to you now and, and, and, and all of our extended family to do better with their business and, and with whatever their goals are in life. Hello.

Scott Luton (24:45):

Yeah. So our community is going to have the opportunity to add a PhD.

Scott Luton (24:54):

This is, uh,

Scott Luton (24:55):

This is great. What a learning opportunity and, uh, excited about what’s what’s to come. I think we’ll have some big news as the calendar flips with sponsors for 2021 for this new series it’s been really well received. So I appreciate your leadership and we really are grateful for our collaboration with you

Kevin Jackson (25:13):

All. I’m looking forward to it. Yeah.

Kevin Jackson (25:15):

There’s so much opportunity. So little time, right. Let’s make sure folks know how to connect with you, whether they’re interested in, in your best-selling book or some of your key noting that you do, or, or digital transformations and beyond how can folks connect

Kevin Jackson (25:30):

I’m on LinkedIn. Like everybody, I guess Kevin L. Jackson, but also on Twitter. I’ll I do a lot of, I write a lot for a lot of different companies on the leading edge of how to leverage technology, how to redesign your business models. So I’m at, at Kevin underscore Jackson on Twitter, or, Hey, just send an email to supply chain. Now, Amanda, at supply chain now who, uh, is very good at, uh, tapping me on the shoulder when somebody wants something from me. So, uh, it’s easy to get ahold of me certainly is our air traffic controller.

Scott Luton (26:10):

I need one of those, but yeah, if you want to reach out, uh, and we’ll make sure the message gets to Kevin. And, you know, I know I lost the thought earlier from what you were saying about those, um, those information, supply chains and verification. And so I’ll be remiss if I didn’t mention Greg’s favorite word provenance because

Kevin Jackson (26:31):

Yes, I think we’re all

Scott Luton (26:33):

Supply chain practitioner or leader or consumer. We’re going to hear that word and different synonyms of that word, uh, and a lot more in, in the months. So we all know we’re dealing with the real thing, which what big company, the real was that a Coca-Cola theme back in the eighties, maybe we’re going to apply that in a meeting in a big way to supply chain and consumer goods here in the months ahead. All right. So Kevin, always a pleasure. I’ve learned about 18 new things about Kevin L. Jackson, just in this conference, brief conversation here. Hopefully our listeners enjoyed it as much as I have. Uh, we’ve been talking with Kevin L. Jackson, CEO of GC global net author of the bestselling book click to transform amongst others also hosts of our newest series. Digital transformers. Thanks so much, Kevin. Thank you very much. Let’s do a lot more. Oh, tip an iceberg is coming right to our audience. Hopefully you enjoy this conversation as much as I have. You can see more conversations like Be sure to find us and subscribe for free wherever you get your podcasts from. Hey, on behalf of the entire team here at Scott Luton, wishing our listeners, nothing but the best. Hey, do good. Give forward. Be the change that’s needed and Oh, by the way, happy holidays. Merry Christmas, happy new year. And we’ll see you next time.

Kevin Jackson (28:10):

Awesome. Loved it. Love that interview.

Would you rather watch the show in action?  Watch as Scott and Kevin welcome you to Supply Chain Now through our YouTube channel.

Kevin 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. 

Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now, the voice of supply chain. Supply Chain Now digital media brings together thought-leaders, influencers and practitioners to spotlight the people, technology, best practices, critical issues, and new opportunities impacting global supply chain performance today and tomorrow. Our leaders are frequently sourced to provide insights into supply chain news, technology, disruption and innovation, and rank in the top 25 on multiple industry thought-leadership lists. Supply Chain Now digital media content includes podcasts, livestreaming, vlogs, virtual events, and articles that have accumulated millions of views, plays and reads since 2017 and continue to reach a growing global audience.

Scott has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He’s also been named a top industry influencer by groups such as Thinkers360, ISCEA and others.

Having served as President of APICS Atlanta from 2009 to 2011, Scott has also served on a variety of boards and has led a number of initiatives to support the local business community & global industry. Scott is also a United States Air Force Veteran and has led a variety of efforts to give back to his fellow Veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.


Upcoming Events & Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Subscribe to Supply Chain Now and ALL Supply Chain Now Programming Here:
Leave a review for Supply Chain Now:
Connect with Scott on LinkedIn:
Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn:
Supply Chain Now Ranked #3 Supply Chain YouTube Channel:
Download the Q3 2020 U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index:
Watch the Replay of The Connected IoT Supply Chain:

Check Out News From Our Sponsors
U.S. Bank:
Vector Global Logistics: