Supply Chain Now Episode 542

In this episode of Supply Chain Now, Scott Luton sits down with TEKTOK host, Karin Bursa, and they chat 2020 lessons learned, and what’s on the horizon in 2021.

Intro (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. Hey, good afternoon, Scott

Scott Luton (00:30):

Here with you on supply chain now, welcome to today’s show illness episode. We’re continuing this mini series here in the year where we’re kind of flipping the flipping a table a bit and we’re gaining insights and POV from our hosts today. We’re going to be working really hard to raise your supply chain IQ as we’re meeting with the industry dynamo that is Karin bursa. So stay tuned. Hey, quick, programming it before we get started here today. If you enjoy this conversation, be sure to find this and subscribe for free wherever you get your podcasts. So no further ado let’s bring in. Today’s featured guest. I’m really excited to be speaking with Corinne bursa, the supply chain pro dyno for 2020 as recognized by supply and demand chain executive. She is founder of [inaudible] and is host of our tech talk digital supply chain podcast, Kerryn. Good afternoon.

Karin Bursa (01:21):

Hey, good afternoon, Scott. Always a pleasure to be with you here.

Scott Luton (01:25):

You as well. It feels like six years ago since you and I last sat down for a one-on-one interview, but it’s really been just a few months, but it’s been such a fast moving time period. Right? We’re we’re finishing with a flurry here in the year, right?

Karin Bursa (01:39):

Absolutely 2020. I mean, it’s, it’s had plenty of low spots for sure, but it does seem like the momentum here the last couple of months is really flowing. And um, fortunately it looks like 20, 21. It’s going to be a lot more optimistic. So I’m looking forward to that calendar change.

Scott Luton (01:58):

[inaudible] also looking forward to this conversation here where we’re able to pick your brain a little bit more on that side of the mic as it were. We’ve had some fascinating conversations with, with all of our hosts and this is going to continue that trend for sure. So let’s make sure for the three folks in our audience that don’t know Kerryn bursa, tell us about yourself.

Karin Bursa (02:16):

Karimba says you, um, introduce me. I’ve had the absolute privilege to work in supply chain and manufacturing and technology for more than two decades. And I love it. I love everything about it. Uh, the challenges as well as the triumphs, it’s just fascinating to understand how products are planned, brought to market manufactured, distributed, and delivered right to your doorstep. So I guess you could say I’m a, you know, supply chain transformation junkie. So this is what I do. This is what I enjoy. And one of the good things about 2020 is supply chain has taken center stage. So people understand what we do each and every day, what our community does and where they’re spending their time and effort as well.

Scott Luton (03:03):

Agreed, certainly a big silver lining there to a very challenging year, uniquely challenging year. Let’s talk more about [inaudible]. How are you helping organizations with that firm?

Karin Bursa (03:12):

So Nikea was founded specifically to help high growth business, the business technology companies. So I’m taking my more than two decades of technology and business strategy experience and applying it to some of these growth initiatives, whether it’s market segmentation or strategic marketing initiatives, or even go to market strategies. So working with a number of companies in the area of helping them transform their business and prepare for new growth in certainly 20, 21 and beyond. So if I can be of help to any of the folks out in our community would love to connect with you and, um, and see if I can’t contribute to the efforts that you’re working on.

Scott Luton (03:53):

Well, I’m pretty confident that folks are making a mistake by not giving you a call. We’ve enjoyed your series here with us and that spillover effect. I mean, we’ve, we’ve tapped into all of your expertise and it’s made us better and stronger and enable us to move faster and serve the market better. And folks will be best served by reaching out. And, um, and, and I also appreciate your approach. You’re always willing to compare notes and it’s amazing the powerful advice you can get just with that casual conversation with folks. So that’s one of my key takeaways here in 2020, but let’s talk about some of your key takeaways in 2020. So what are, when we think of a short list of those key takeaways, especially with a business bend or, or personally what comes to mind from 2020?

Karin Bursa (04:35):

The first thing we just talked about and that is supply chain has taken center stage. And what I love about the fact that it has centered stage is it’s not just about cutting costs. Supply chain is now seen to deliver the value that we have all worked so hard to build the credentials around just for decades and decades. So whether you’re looking at segmenting, your market’s going to market differently, if you’ve rationalized your product portfolio, if you’re looking to streamline your distribution or the way you work with your sourcing partners, these are all areas that our supply chain. And so, um, right from procurement through demand forecasting, through inventory policies, production plans, sourcing, these are opportunities for transformation. And so supply chain and center stage would be my number one. Number two is the word transformation actually stopped the reality of transformation. So McKinsey global, I did a survey about six or seven months into COVID 19. And so this was a global survey and they found a very extraordinary statistic. I know, you know this Scott, but to share it with our community as a reminder in just a matter of months. So in six to seven months, companies have achieved digital transformation and customer engagement. And in supply chain that is equivalent to almost four years of transformation initiatives. So in just a few months, they’ve actually left a forward by almost four years. I think that’s going to be good news for our future.

Scott Luton (06:20):

Agreed, you know, along those lines, Kerryn earlier this week on the buzz, we, we cherry picked a, a quote from a recent wall street journal logistics report article, and they were citing an Avery Dennison leader. And I can’t remember his name, but he basically to paraphrase, he said, leave the pandemic is sped up and has us implementing in 2020, what we were thinking about doing in 2025. And that stopped me in my tracks a bit because that’s very accurate.

Karin Bursa (06:49):

Absolutely. I think that’s spot on. And that reinforces this research that McKinsey has conducted as well. I think that this type of global disruption has created a new necessity for transformation. And a lot of that has come through technology innovation or embracing capabilities that technology brings to the business. So, and I, I think we’re just starting to tell you the truth, because I think we’re going to see more momentum as businesses push forward to a new normal in 2021.

Scott Luton (07:22):

So those were the first two man, and those are, those are two biggies. What what’s the third?

Karin Bursa (07:27):

Well, the third would be just that, but technology, but the technology component of that, you know, that as supply chain professionals, we need to look for new opportunities to automate. We need to look to, to, um, to allow the systems, to do things quickly and iteratively so that we can make better decisions every single day. And that we’re looking at market signals and making small incremental changes versus changes that have historically happened only on a monthly or quarterly basis for most businesses. So a lot more, um, sensing, demand, changes, sensing, supply changes and responding faster to meet the market needs.

Scott Luton (08:11):

Yeah. One of my favorite parts of this journey in working with you and Greg white and, and several others across the series and programs is y’all were supply chain tech before supply chain tech McCain. Cool. Right. I think Greg put it the other day in a podcast. He said, you know, supply chain tech is all of a sudden overnight success after four decades of hard work. And that is such a great point because everyone, these days seems like they can’t get enough of applying the latest and greatest tech or investing in it. You know, there’s deal after deal after deal being made. But Hey, we’ve been at not, maybe you’ve been, we’ve been here for awhile, you know, not more than two decades, which is our Cardinal rule here at supply chain. Now I’m learning as an executive leader in this industry that all of a sudden is folks can’t get enough of how do you perceive that and how fulfilling is that?

Karin Bursa (09:05):

Oh, so it’s a lot of fun. Um, it is rewarding to see literally decades of work be leveraged in new and interesting ways. So I think as technology embraces new capabilities, um, like artificial intelligence and machine learning and rapid response and rapid changes in the marketplace versus just a cadence based plan for the business, I think it’s, it’s very exciting to see Winston Churchill has the, um, the great quote when he was, um, working on forming the United nations after world war II, where he said famously never let a good crisis go to waste. Well, I think 2020 has had plenty of crises for us to choose from. It’s been hard on business, hard on governments, hard on individuals, hard on families. I think that we need to look at those lessons and see where we can reap new and interesting ways of, of doing business and engaging in the future.

Scott Luton (10:09):

Well said, and the famous philosopher, one Kevin Bell, an attorney with a here, uh, he S he said something back in March or April that we keep going back to, to your point. You can find opportunities without being opportunistic in this environment. And there’s lots and lots of companies that have dialed that in ended up ahead. Smashingly good, great years despite the challenging environment. So, uh, love that sentiment. Um, all right. So let’s, let’s switch gears a bit and let’s talk about that proverbial Eureka moment. We all have a bunch of them years, like 2020 can, you know, they tend to come and maybe bunches, but what’s one Eureka moment that you really are, is important to you.

Karin Bursa (10:51):

Yeah. You know, I’ve been really focused on this theme of mindset. I know that sounds crazy. And, and you probably are looking for something much more tangible, but I think as we approach problem solving, as we approach looking at new opportunities, we have to have a positive mindset that our teams can come together and solve problems in a new and interesting way that we can serve our customers efficiently and effectively, and that we can embrace and harness change versus just simply respond to change. So I think that it is an opportunity for us to all kind of take a look in the mirror and figure out if our glass is half empty or half full, or, you know, if it’s the proverbial way to quench your thirst, I know it can be challenging. Um, I know that for many of us, we’ve had personal challenges and family challenges with health and family members, um, employment, et cetera. But remember, we are supply chain professionals and supply chain is the place to be. And supply chain is taking center stage and as supply chain professionals, we are problem solvers. So we have to be an optimistic group to think about how we do things in new and interesting ways. So I’m kind of focused on that mindset and how do we, how do we use a positive mindset going forward to help propel our businesses?

Scott Luton (12:16):

Love that no longer the supply chain open up for James Brown. We are James Brown insert your favorite position, the rolling stones, whatever love that. So breaking out the crystal ball 2021, what’s one thing for us to maybe not as much a forecast as something to, or prediction as something to keep your out.

Karin Bursa (12:36):

I expect that global business is going to spring forward a place, a caveat around that they’ll spring forward with caution. I think there’s a lot of pent up demand in the marketplace. I think people want to get out and do things and socialize and kind of re-engage if you will, with family and friends and their business colleagues as well. But I think that we will look at still harnessing many of the tools that we’ve used for the last several months. So Scott, let me use supply chain now as an example there. So when we think of digital media like supply chain now, so supply chain now has become a community where we can get together and connect with others that are in our field around the globe, right? You’ve got a regular community. That’s engaged in countries around the world on a regular basis. And that’s exciting. They’re sharing ideas, inspiring others and looking to solve problems. And again, new and interesting ways. I think digital is here to stay. So whether it’s digital collaboration and communities like supply chain now, or it’s digital working of your supply chain with your planning practices, with the way you collaborate with customers and suppliers, that these things need to continue to evolve and improve and are going to be ways that we can get out of spreadsheet hell and into making better decisions faster each and every day for our business.

Scott Luton (14:10):

Speaking of those relationships and even digital relationship. One of my key takeaways from 2020 has been, and don’t laugh, but the power of growing in a very meaningful way relationships via digital means it’s been amazing as an example, we’ve done business in great business and produced some great shows with folks that, you know, the relationship started on a tweet response. You know, it’s just, it’s so crazy to think about how, just how far the digital world has come when you can really have human interactions. That mean something and are impactful. That start from the simplest of, of, of ways.

Karin Bursa (14:49):

I agree, um, and agree that, um, you know, that people with a willingness to help others and share and connect, don’t get me wrong. I, I miss 3d interaction with folks, but I think it’s going to be quite some time before people are comfortable gathering in groups of 200 or 500 or 2000 and the traditional conference format. So I think supply chain now is really serving a vital need in the industry. And that is as a mechanism and a platform to really up your skills and to level up and think differently and share ideas and, and test new ideas, uh, and get feedback. And, and I think that that’s going to be important, not just in 2021, but 2021 and beyond

Scott Luton (15:35):

Completely agree. And Hey, at least we hope to be back in the studio with a handful of folks, guests hosts long before we can take those big strides towards even a couple hundred folks at an event. So well said there, one thing I’ve been really one of the projects, speaking of which that I’ve really been excited about and have enjoyed participating on some level is the Tech-Talk digital supply chain podcast and interviewing you and getting your origin story, getting the origin story of Laura [inaudible] of course, was a great highlight spotlight and supply chain people that are doing great things in the community like Mandy with emphasizing. Absolutely. It’s been great content, and I know we’re just scratching the surface. So w tell us, what do we have to look forward to in 2021?

Karin Bursa (16:24):

Yeah. And I’m so excited about it. And, and, um, it has been a blast as partnering with you in the supply chain now team around this new podcast series. So again, for our listeners, it’s called tech talk, digital supply chain Hardcast and it’s with supply chain now. So check it out. And if you haven’t please take a listen and subscribe. But, uh, in early 2021, we’re going to cover a number of interesting topics. We’ve got a couple of chief supply chain officers who are going to share really what they’ve done in the area of transformation during this, this COVID world, but also those that are looking at new, new tactics around resiliency and how they respond quicker to changes in the market. So you’ll hear things about artificial intelligence and machine learning, and several very practical examples of automation, helping people be more productive each and every day, evaluating more supply chain scenarios so that we can pick the best of the best.

Karin Bursa (17:24):

And I think one thing that’s important in all of that is just the speed of business is changing dramatically. Um, when we think of the internet of things, these sensors are able to signal the need, whether that need is replenishment replacement, repair, um, available capacity in a very real-time manner. And that helps us to serve the customer or the community or individuals in a very effective and timely way that is reaping significant rewards. So I think we’re going to hear a lot of those elements come together again around these themes of transformation and effective use of technology is delivering a competitive advantage. I expect to see that continue to accelerate. So we’ll be focusing on a lot of those topics as we kick off 2021

Scott Luton (18:20):

Such a fascinating time to be in supply chain or global business for that matter. You know, I think when I think of IOT and some of the, uh, industry 4.0 technology that’s already been applied for for years, mind you, I think about my time in data analytics with the air force way back when, and I bet there’s lots of parallels out in industry, you know, where, where you’d be charged you to hear from the boss, Hey, uh, Luton, go run this report. You know, you got 10 days to do it and you go back and do all the crunching and get a report so they can make a decision right on something, all that happens. If it’s not completely automated, including the decision it happens in right there in the need these days. And, and as you know, I’m preaching to the choir here, predictably, you know, more and more before you even get to the point where you realize you need this data. It is, it is fascinating that the ever, ever increasing rate of change is just a, it’s an, it’s an incredible time to live.

Karin Bursa (19:13):

It is it’s fascinating. And, and again, um, supply chain is a great place to be, um, and, and a great place to apply some of this innovative technology, um, really to help do exactly what you said to, to do deep analysis quickly and to evaluate and interrogate multiple options for the business, multiple scenarios. Super interesting. I think we’ll continue to see more and more examples that are going to inspire others to get started and transform their businesses as well.

Scott Luton (19:45):

Great conversation. Just like I knew, I’ve learned, I’ve gotten my proverbial 18 pages of notes. So Kerryn really excited about what’s coming up in 2021 with, with tech taught digital supply chain podcast so much good stuff. How can folks connect with you then?

Karin Bursa (20:01):

Yeah, so it’s kind of, I think the best way to connect is through LinkedIn and what encouraged everyone in our community to reach out to me there. Um, it is Korean it’s spelled K a R I N. The last name is bursa that’s B as in boy, U R S a. And of course you can go to supply chain now as well, and look up tech talk, and you can connect with me there or subscribe to the tech talk podcast as well, would love to hear your feedback, your input, and any great stories you have to share. And, uh, we look forward to growing together with you in the future

Scott Luton (20:35):

And more and more live streams of calm that we’re going to each of our series in our hosts, there are going to be connecting with the audience on a much more regular basis in 2021 to pose questions or to share their insights, or maybe on past episodes or our upcoming episodes. So stay tuned for that as well. Corrine, always a pleasure, love what you do, love what you’ve brought to the table, a love, our ability to tap into all of your expertise and experiences and share that to your earlier point with our global community, especially when they need it, perhaps never more before then. Right, right. This instant. So thanks so much for all that you do. Kerryn bursa, happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and looking forward to a smashingly successful 2020

Karin Bursa (21:16):

I’m right there with you, Scott, thanks for all you in this supply team our team are doing and the way you do it. So not just what you do, but the way you do it. Listen, if you guys have not connected to a live stream, you need to, it’s just a lot of fun. I don’t know how else to say how to say it, but the, the thoughts and ideas, and even a little bit of joking that goes back and forth between some of our, our regulars in the community is just worth a good hour of your time. So please, uh, piping, give it a try and, uh, and let us know what you’re thinking. So thanks again, Scott, happy holidays, everyone.

Scott Luton (21:51):

Hey, thanks so much. And, and a quick programming that owned that last item that cringes shared. The easiest thing is every Monday and Thursday at 12 noon Eastern time, you’ll find this live across five social platforms, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch. Not sure what Twitch is, but you’d find this there 12 noon on Mondays and Thursdays, join us and look for more live stream programming to our audience and community. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this conversation with Corinne bursa, as much as I have, make sure you connect with her own LinkedIn. You’ll find that information on the show notes. A you can learn a lot more about us and find similar fondness, of course, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts Corrine. We got a deal subscribe for free, right money back guarantee on that to add to our listeners, Hey, got Luton signing off for the whole supply chain. Now team do good gift forward. Be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time.

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

The 2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year, Karin Bursa is an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy, technology marketing executive and the Host of the TEKTOK Digital Supply Chain Podcast featured on 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 helps B2B technology companies introduce new products, capture customer success and grow global revenue, market share and profitability. Karin is a sought-after speaker at industry conferences, is often quoted in supply chain publications, and is active with forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP. In addition to her recognition as the 2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year, Karin has also been recognized as a 2019 and 2018 Supply Chain Pro to Know, 2009 Technology Marketing Executive of the Year and a 2008 Women in Technology Finalist.

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.


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