Ongoing supply chain disruptions have not only made product shortages and delivery delays the norm, but they have also exposed the internal weaknesses in many companies’ supply chains — especially as it pertains to poor customer communication and transparency.
Diana Eagen is the Director of Sales and Order-to-Cash at Esker. She joined hosts Scott Luton and Greg White for a livestream to describe how customer service automation can be utilized by B2B companies to deliver an Amazon-like experience — transforming both supply chain management and giving customers what they want in 2023 and beyond.
In this conversation, Diana, Scott, and Greg discuss:
• Why visibility, communication, and self-service options are so critically important to the customer experience
• Practical examples that illustrate how automation can improve customer communication and supply chain performance at the same time
• Where AI-powered tools are being incorporated to automate visibility and manage changes
Welcome to Supply Chain Now, the voice of global supply chain. Supply Chain Now focuses on the best in the business for our worldwide audience, the people, the technologies, the best practices, and today’s critical issues, the challenges and opportunities. Stay tuned to hear from those making global business happen right here on Supply Chain Now.
Scott Luton (00:33):
Hey. Hey. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening. Scott Luton and Greg White here with you on Supply Chain Now. Welcome to today’s livestream. Gregory, how are we doing?
Greg White (00:41):
Quite well, Scott. How are we doing?
Scott Luton (00:44):
We are doing well. I feel like I’m talking bad grammar now after our prep show.
Greg White (00:49):
I know. I think we need to watch our grammar and our language.
Scott Luton (00:53):
We try hard. But, Greg, hey, on the heels of a great episode yesterday, we got a great show lined up today.
Greg White (01:00):
I’m looking forward to this.
Scott Luton (01:00):
I am too. We are focused on – lots of P’s here – the Powerful Potential of Practically Applied Automation. And we’re going to be gaining insights from a business leader with an organization doing big, big things in industry. Greg, it should be one heck of a conversation, huh?
Greg White (01:16):
The PPPAA. It couldn’t be better than that, right? You and I may have gotten a little sneaky peaky at what we’re going to talk about today and it’s really interesting. You know, I love automation. I think there’s nothing to apologize anymore for automation with the generational shift that’s going on in the workforce. And I think it makes us better and allows humans to do human things.
Scott Luton (01:37):
Yes. It opens up big old new doors and windows of opportunity.
Greg White (01:42):
Bingo. I like that. Yes.
Scott Luton (01:43):
That’s a very scientific term.
Greg White (01:44):
You used proper grammar. It’s colloquial. There’s the word for the day.
Scott Luton (01:48):
I’m going to look up in the dictionary what that means, but we’ll save that for another time. Beyond what Greg said, because it is one of our favorite topics here, with, really, one of our favorite organizations I’ve done a lot of different shows with. But get ready, folks, we want to hear from you as well. Let us know in the chat your take on things we talk about here today. And with that said, Greg, we’ve got Jonathan, and Amanda, and Josh, all thus far in the chat. Great. Welcome everybody. And we look forward to hearing your take.
Greg White (02:15):
Look at Josh’s weather report, though. I think you got to share that.
Scott Luton (02:19):
“Good morning from a rainy and 3 lonely degrees -“
Greg White (02:23):
Three Celsius degrees, I think. Look at him being international, though, and sharing with the world what it feels like. So, I will share a weather report also from Zurich, Switzerland where my youngest daughter is at – study away camp, as I call it – study abroad. It is snowing and less than zero degrees Celsius, minus 12 Celsius.
Scott Luton (02:47):
I hope she took a couple coats. And we look forward to learning a lot more about her adventures.
Greg White (02:51):
These poor kids from the South, they go to a place that is above the capital of virtually every state in the union, including the ones in Minnesota and Wisconsin. So, just to give you a perspective from the American continent, these are parts of the world that most of us in America won’t live in. It’s very cold and that’s where most of Europe starts. Geography is a powerful thing.
Scott Luton (03:17):
Yes. More tonight in the 11:00 report. Before we bring on our guest, Greg, I mentioned Jonathan, a pride of Louisiana with us. Jonathan, I think I saw a new recognition or certification on social that you added to your inventory. So, if you get a chance, I’d love for you to share that with us here today. And congratulations. Okay. Greg, are you ready to bring on our esteemed guest here today?
Greg White (03:38):
I am. Yes. I just wanted to check outside and make sure that it was still tropical.
Scott Luton (03:42):
Still tropical on the island. Yes. Greg, time to get to work. I want to bring in our featured guest here today. Our guest brings more than two decades to the table of experience and expertise helping organizations improve their productivity, efficiency, and environmental impact, amongst other things. She’s got a passion for eliminating those pesky manual processes while helping customers decrease costs within the order-to-cash cycle. So, with all of that said, I want to welcome in Diana Eagen, Director of Sales for Order to Cash Solutions at Esker. Hey. Hey. Diana, how are you doing?
Diana Eagen (04:18):
Good, Scott. How are you guys?
Scott Luton (04:20):
Wonderful. Greg, I want to make sure we have Diana’s check mark and stamp of approval for some of our grammar as we are opening the show today, Diana.
Greg White (04:30):
Thank you for being here to check us. So, you’re doing double duty here, Diana. You’re going to share all of your knowledge about order-to-cash and procurement and all of these things, but also perhaps there are some people in the audience who have some grammar questions. And why would you particularly be able to answer that?
Diana Eagen (04:49):
I can be the grammar police if you’d like me to be today. No problem.
Scott Luton (04:53):
Greg and Diana are alluding to in a previous lifetime years ago, she spent a little bit of time as an English teacher. Which, we need a lot more of that background in supply chain industry. Of course, that was before she was moving mountains and doing big things in global business. But, hey, we love our teachers.
Scott Luton (05:10):
So, Diana and Greg, I’ve got a fun warm up question that I want to start with before we dive into some of your expertise and perspective. So, on this date, on February 28, 1983, it was the date of the record smashing finale of M*A*S*H which aired on CBS. Folks, it pulled in a remarkable record setting 77 percent of all T.V. viewers. Now, as we mentioned in the pre-show, a lot has changed since then, Greg and Diana, because, of course, the world has arguably, most folks are getting their content streaming versus television these days. But that aside, what is one show, be it television or digital media, you name it, streaming that you have been addicted to from start to finish. Folks in the comments, I love to get your take too. So, Diana, lead us off, what’s one show?
Diana Eagen (06:00):
This is an easy one for me. It’s been over 50 seasons on the Food Network, Chopped. I have never missed an episode of Chopped since, probably, when it come out 2009, 2010, something like that.
Scott Luton (06:14):
I love the creativeness and the competition. And usually three courses, right?
Diana Eagen (06:19):
Three. And it gives me ideas of what food I can make when I have nothing in the house.
Greg White (06:25):
Are you serious? Because I always have nothing in the house. I’ve never seen this. I’m not even sure I’ve heard of it. I’m sure I’ve heard of it.
Scott Luton (06:32):
All right. So, Chopped, that’s a good one. And I appreciate you sharing that. Greg, I can’t wait to hear yours.
Greg White (06:38):
The Sopranos, 100 percent . That was such a trendsetting show. First of all, it was the first anti-hero as heroes show. And, of course, that has become the great boom of our times. You want to talk about waiting, having to wait, not only was it back in the day when you had to wait for the episode on Sunday night, but also there were times when it was a-year-and-a-half or almost two between seasons, because David – what’s his name? – who did that was such a strange dude. And he like torturing, absolutely torturing, us. That is one. And there were many. M*A*S*H was one that I watched with my family. Truly one of the funniest shows of all time also, M*A*S*H, if you’ve ever seen it. Just totally irreverent.
Scott Luton (07:23):
So, on your first one, Greg, The Sopranos, of course, Rolling Stone named it, I think, the best T.V. show of all time. And then, going back to yours, Diana, Katherine and Amanda – kind of behind the scenes helping to make production happen as always – they both love Chopped. And when I think about Chopped – if I’m not mistaken. I’m not a T.V. historian – Diana, I think that was one of the first kind of competitive cooking shows. And now they’re everywhere, right?
Diana Eagen (07:46):
Absolutely. I love it. I’m obsessed.
Scott Luton (07:49):
Greg White (07:49):
How do you have 50 seasons? How long has it been on? When did it start?
Diana Eagen (07:53):
Mid to late 2000s.
Greg White (07:55):
Okay. So, a season must be fairly short, right?
Scott Luton (07:59):
You’re going to check that out, Greg, and we’re going to circle back and get your critical analysis of that. We’re about to dive into our global business discussion, but I got to share this. TSquared – who holds the fort down for us on YouTube says – “As a Toastmaster, I appreciate all the Grammarian insight.” Well, TSquared, thank you for that. And thank you for being here as always. Okay.
Scott Luton (08:17):
So, Diana and Greg, as much as we love T.V. history, we’ve got a great topic here today. And, Diana, where we want to start, you know, you’re out there doing business with the movers and shakers, I’d love to kind of hear what you’re seeing out in industry as well as what are some things that maybe business leaders are struggling with or prioritizing to tackle. Your thoughts, Diana.
Diana Eagen (08:36):
Struggling with keeping up. I mean, keeping up with customer expectations, mainly within the buying process. Consumers, we don’t expect to use a different website or an app to buy or pay or track deliveries, or get product information, and any of that, to submit tickets or complaints. And likewise, B2B buyers expect a single point of entry experience these days. Then, I would say, at minimum at least have full visibility of the relationship with the seller. So, they’re struggling because we’ve got all these, like, procurement and B2B buyers who have these personal experiences as a consumer. Thank goodness for the Amazon experience, because this is how they now want to buy in the B2B buying experiences.
Diana Eagen (09:28):
I was talking to a customer service manager in the med device space the other day and she’s like, “I thought we were doing really great with automating order confirmations and shipping updates.” But, now, the expectation is like omnichannel ordering, and everything needs to be real time, and they want a mobile experience. And she’s just like, “All I’m doing is trying to struggle to keep up and help customers understand and to give them what they expect in terms of information.” So, to answer your question, I mean I’m hearing that from everybody, it’s just trying to keep up. Just to keep up with those customer expectations. That’s really what they’re facing right now.
Scott Luton (10:11):
Diana, what a great starting point. Expectations, demands, the new table stakes. Greg, what’d you hear there so much that Diana shared right there in that response?
Greg White (10:21):
Well, what I heard was, Where the heck have these people been? It has been realistic, not any particular company, but where have we been as an industry, Diana, that we are just really en masse coming to this conclusion because these kind of capabilities have been available to companies for nearly a decade, right? I feel like we should have woken up ages ago.
Diana Eagen (10:43):
We should have. We haven’t. They’re still manually doing it.
Greg White (10:48):
Yeah. And, you know, I think of back in the day when e-commerce was really getting started, the sporting goods companies started with a company that was called G something. I can’t even remember. But it became eBay Enterprises, which was an organization that could just set you up with a website. Think back to 2006 to 2010, every sporting goods company in the country’s site looked exactly the same except for their logo and their colors. And they were selling online in relatively efficient fashion. And I was always stunned, Diana, that so many more companies didn’t catch up with that. I can see the manufacturers, they weren’t selling to consumers. And they probably didn’t even think about the fact that their procurement professionals would want that. But more and more – and I’ve been calling it for about ten years now – amplifying the experience. We need to be giving people the B2B experience that they are getting in the B2C world, consumer world. And why not?
Scott Luton (11:52):
So, Diana, I love your passion, by the way, of eliminating needless manual processes. We might get to that in a second. But, Diana, first off, do you want to respond to what Greg said? And then, we’re going to move into the rest of the conversation.
Diana Eagen (12:04):
Greg is spot on because we are in a place now where organizations, regardless of who you’re doing business with, whether you’ve got the small guy or you’re doing business with Walmart, the expectation is the same. They want the human connection. They want it to be a central part of that strong kind of customer experience. But they also want the value of having automated customer communication and having, like Greg was mentioning, the self-service, the e-commerce tools, the things that can kind of strike that perfect balance between a personal connection and then the kind of proactive lightning fast response times that people expect today.
Scott Luton (12:50):
Let me share a couple quick. So, “Ted Allen -” going back to Chopped, Christopher says, “- is the best host.” Clay points out Radar, who was typecast forever, kind of like Costanza from Seinfeld. That’s a great call out there. And then, back to what y’all are both saying, I think you mentioned a single point of entry, Diana. I’m not going to name names, but the airline that I fly on mostly, their app, you can do anything with it. It has overhauled and transformed the customer experience. Remember the battle days where you had to go through an agent a lot of times, and, man, you had to wait on the phone? I mean, it’s really changed a lot of that. And to both of y’all’s point, that’s the expectation these days. Even though some companies are resisting futilely, it’s going to happen. Let’s just say that, it’s going to happen. Go ahead and get with it. Embrace it, lean in. It’s what your customers want.
Scott Luton (13:42):
All right. So, moving along, let’s talk about the why for a second. Man, both of y’all really set the table nicely. So, this might sound like a stupid question but I always think defining the why is really critical because a lot of folks, me included, make a lot of assumptions as human. So, Diana, why improve visibility, communication, and self-service options for customers? Why is that critically important these days?
Diana Eagen (14:04):
Well, I think, first, it goes with saying that we need to say that something like automation or self-service options might seem counterintuitive to service, taking people out of that kind of problem solving equation. So, I just wanted to kind of start there because when we talk about folks that I talk to on a daily basis and why they haven’t done this sooner, why they haven’t done it ten years ago, it’s for that reason, the fear that they’re not going to be able to provide their customers with what they need. But we are so far from tech and AI. And all that has come such a long way since the days of, you know, desperately trying to reach a human on the other end of an automated voice recording. I mean we’re so far from that.
Diana Eagen (14:52):
So, why is because customers expect it. They expect the early insights into all these supply chain shortages. They expect to understand potential shipping delays. They want your inventory transparency. That’s what they want. I had a customer, a manufacturer here in the Midwest, but he put it perfectly. He’s like, “Well, empathy is nice and the customer appreciates the we’re sorry that we won’t get his parts to him by Friday. Empathy without action is empty.” He said, “The customers want communicated in concrete steps. And they need to make sure that they get everything they need to meet their needs.” So, customers want you to field all their inbound inquiries and then they want to communicate exactly what to expect and by what date. That’s the why.
Scott Luton (15:44):
Empathy without action is – what was that?
Diana Eagen (15:46):
He said, empathy without action is empty.
Scott Luton (15:50):
Oh, I love that. All right. Greg, you’re nodding your head as well. Speak to what we just heard there.
Greg White (15:54):
So, why is it critically important? One, generational shift. The people that wanted to talk to people are leaving the workforce at 10,000 a day, and an additional 3.1 million extra left in 2021. I don’t even know how many extra left in 2022, the baby boomers. And the expectations have shifted with that generational shift. And two, Diana, you made me think of a company that I worked for. And we got an award from E&Y or Deloitte Touche, or somebody like that, for customer service. And you know what we did? We celebrated for about 40 seconds and then we said we are terrible at serving our customers initially if we have to be that good at customer service. So, why ruin their experience just so we can have empathic, engaged and, of course, very caring people involved in fixing our screw ups. Stop screwing up. And seriously, as a company, that’s what we went about doing. We didn’t try to win that award again. You don’t want to win a customer service award. In those days, you used to be proud of that. But I think what some people did was they shifted the paradigm and they shifted their point of view and discovered that that was indicative of a problem, not a strength, a weakness in the business.
Scott Luton (17:17):
Man, Greg, we’re talking about the wonder twin powers activate in the pre-show. Both of y’all are bringing the heat today. I love it. So, Diana, you just kind of touched on that quote, your manufacturing customer. Let me make sure I get it right here. Empathy without action is empty, and there’s so much truth to that.
Greg White (17:36):
You haven’t said it yet. That is definitely a t-shirt-ism.
Scott Luton (17:39):
Oh, absolutely, Greg. Yes. Jonathan loves it. Amanda loves a few others. So, that’s definitely one of the first t-shirt-isms today. So, I want to keep going down that path here maybe with some other examples. So, generally speaking, taking the conversation out a little more broadly, how are you seeing automation, Diana, improve customer communication and overall supply chain performance? What else are you seeing in terms of practical examples?
Diana Eagen (18:03):
Well, first is actually what Greg was saying earlier, in the back office and just fixing all those errors, not screwing up to begin with. So, these customer service and back office tasks can significantly benefit from automation. For example, supply chain processes contain all these documents, which you guys know, so we’ve got delivery orders ,and dock receipts, and bills of lading, and seaway bills, and the list goes on and on. So, employees in customer service and various departments are continually storing and processing these documents and manually entering for various reasons. And it’s ridiculously time consuming. It’s a manual task. People fat finger and screw things up when they’re putting these things in the system. It inhibits businesses from reaching any level of operational excellence. It’s so manual.
Diana Eagen (18:57):
So, heaven forbid, a customer calls and wants a copy of a signed BOL as proof so they can pay their invoice. I mean this is a scenario we literally hear about all the time. I call it the swivel chair. It’s I’m going to look in the inventory system, then I’m going to go look in the ERP, and then I got to check this, and then I got to check with et cetera. It’s just this back and forth to try to get them the information that they’re looking for. So, you’re seeing examples of automation involving tasks like this in the data capture. Not just that though, then there’s the understanding of the information, kind of reading of the document. Then, there’s the element of automating and sending that information, the document or what have you, to the relevant person or to the customer. So, there’s a lot on that kind of back office customer service side of things where it’s really impacting. But then, there’s also on the customer side, too, where you’re able to make better decisions and get the tracking information, and those types of things. So, I mean, generally speaking, there’s just a lot of impact both in back office as well as for the buyer.
Scott Luton (20:15):
Greg, I’m going to get to pull you in here, but what I’m hearing there, one of the things, is effective practical automation. We talked about this a thousand times before. Not only are you making your team member’s day easier, but you’re making your customer’s day easier. Greg, chime in on what you heard there from Diana.
Greg White (20:33):
I think that goes to the expectations of pretty much every worker. It’s not just your customers that want it to be frictionless, it’s your employees, it’s whoever your trading partners are and whoever is on your team. I mean, why can’t it be easy? You have all the data or can have all the data, you can avail yourself of these services and solutions that provide you with that data. And then, you can make it as easy as maybe monitoring only exceptions, not having to monitor every single transaction, every proof of delivery or ASN, did it get delivered?
Greg White (21:07):
I think back to the days – we must confess that we’re in that sort of painful realization stage right now -we were so efficient at a company. And it makes me think back to this company. We were so terrible at so many things. In fact, we were a terrible retailer. Thankfully we got bought by someone who was much better. But we had all these internal processes that were so enabling, they were so frictionless that allowed us to be so much better. There were some that were highly manual. One we called expediting, which was you sent the PO, then you called to confirm that they received the PO. Scott, you’ve heard my mantra, the first and probably best guidance I’ve ever gotten in the business of supply chain, which is, to assume everyone will fail you. So, we developed this process where we would send the PO, then call to confirm that they had received the PO. Then, we would call to confirm that they had the materials, then that they had scheduled the picking, then that they had actually done the picking, then that they had got it to the dock, they had got it on the truck, and et cetera.
Greg White (22:07):
This was before ASNs, Diana. EDI existed but it was in that kind of nascent stage where you couldn’t really trust it because it still was a manual process of executing. So, those things have all been enabled via automation and data sharing. And I just want you to know, Diana, that I’m really thankful for helping me break out of that mindset.
Scott Luton (22:29):
So, Diana, really quick, respond to what we heard there and then we’re going to move. I’m going to pull in a couple quick comments and we’ll keep moving.
Diana Eagen (22:34):
It’s unbelievable how similar even the folks I talk to today, we’re not talking about mom and pops, we’re talking about billion dollar organizations, are still in the same place. I don’t want to get into all the detail, but, unfortunately, a lot of the things that even were automated previously, maybe again ASNs, et cetera, order acknowledgements, well, now they can’t do because they have such allocation issues, inventory, and just visibility into all of that. They don’t want to automate those messages going out because they don’t know if the data is right. So, they’re pulling back in and not have a lot of that visibility. So, 100 percent spot on.
Diana Eagen (23:14):
We’ve got a manufacturer here in Illinois that we work with and they do, like, smart access stuff, like garage doors and things like that. And they have major issues because their ERP didn’t even let them do any line level reporting. This is a major ERP too. So, they couldn’t look at trends. They couldn’t identify product trends. There was no tracking to see if they were meeting SLAs and when they were getting product out. Just very low visibility into inbound inquiries. I mean, these are the types of examples that are going on today in a lot of the companies that we’re working with.
Scott Luton (23:53):
I want to go back to your swivel chair theory, Diana, because what that brought to mind, for me, having worked with some incredible teams at two plants in particular, BBDS was core to my methodology, Business By Door Shadowing. Because you were talking about the swivel chair check with this department, this department. For me, it was a good knock on this office and then this office trying to track down the information that you needed. Man, if I had this back in the day, I would have tens of thousands of footsteps as we tackled some of those challenges. And so, I appreciate the supply chain therapy you’re bringing to the table here today, Diana.
Scott Luton (24:26):
Let’s get a little more specific though. You’ve already given numerous examples. Let’s talk about in particular, what AI power tools have had the most impact you’ve been seeing when it comes to complete and automated visibility over many things that you and Greg both have mentioned, you know, confirmations, ASNs, updates, delays, you name it.
Diana Eagen (24:44):
There’s certainly solutions out there that can boil the entire ocean if that’s what someone wants. If they want a full e-commerce automated ordering, auto routing of all the customer inquiries that we work with. We’ll focus just on a few at a time. Generally, maybe it’s something as simple as maybe you’re a big B and you work with a lot of small B’s. And it’s something as simple as taking the PDF that they attached in the email when they send you their order, as simple as taking those PDFs that those small B companies are sending as attachments and emails with their order. Sometimes it’s as simple as just taking those PDFs and capturing it, and validating it, et cetera, for your customer service reps. So, that’s one thing. Like you mentioned, order confirmations, when customers send in their PO, they don’t necessarily need a phone call. Just getting the email confirmation that it was processed and et cetera. So, my point is, simply, it doesn’t have to boil the ocean. It can simply be a couple key areas within that communication cycle that will enhance the process.
Scott Luton (25:53):
Diana, yes. Absolutely. I’ve heard it put, a variety of small nudges is what ultimately moves mountains. Of course, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. And, really, you’re taking bites of the elephant. And that’s what you’re describing, at least what I’m hearing. How many teams, regardless of where you are, in terms of where automation is being applied. Man, if you can solve this small little challenge, you really changed your day. And, gosh, over time, OG approach back when GE was a company most of us knew, like, in the ’70s and ’80s, incremental improvements over the time yield tremendous results. I love your perspective there, Diana. Greg, weigh in there and then we’re going to keep driving.
Greg White (26:33):
That’s the only way to do it. I mean, frankly, when you’re talking about people on the desktop who deliver the promises that are made in the boardroom, the only way to do it is to take their problem and solve it. Just that. Start with that. Because we talk about this all the time, digital transformation and implementation of technologies and all of those things, they can do great things for companies, but they first have to do great things for people. And adoption is the key. And the key to adoption is making people’s lives and jobs easier. If you have a really good strategy for implementing any kind of process change, whether it includes technology or just simply a change to the process, the best way to tackle it is to impact those most impacted by it. And to change the process that is most offensive or difficult or burdensome to them. Because you accomplished two things. One, you make the business better. And two, you win hearts and minds and that’s critical to adoption. It’s just so simple and I think you did a great job of describing that principle, Diana.
Scott Luton (27:41):
Absolutely. Diana, before we move on, anything else you want to add?
Diana Eagen (27:44):
It’s unbelievable to me that after the last few years that we’ve had, that companies- not all companies – are still sending out shipping delay notices. After everything we’ve all been through, it’s unbelievable to me that something as a small effort, like a shipping delay notice isn’t being sent out. And so, I would just say that when we’re looking at these and folks are looking at these further organization, you just look at the processes that are preventing your folks from doing their job effectively every day. It’s who’s hunting down the information, who’s customers are constantly on the phone, blowing up your emails, et cetera. And focus on those processes, for sure.
Greg White (28:29):
That’s not being missed, by the way, by those customers. Again, to go back to your first point, Diana, Amazon and Shopify and others have set the expectation that a direct to consumer mom and pop retailer, a person or company who has one product, can tell you how much they have, whether you ought to order it, and when it’s shipped, when it’s going to be arriving. All of that technology exists for people who are a mom and pop business. People expect that for these big businesses, as you said. And whether you’re hearing from them or not, they are judging you.
Greg White (29:07):
A good for instance is, 77 percent of Gen Y and Gen Z do not watch television at all. They’ve never seen broadcast news, The Today Show, Good Morning America. Well Chopped is a little different maybe because it’s cable. But they aren’t watching network television. So, do you think 77 percent of two generations sent a note to these people and said, “I’m no longer watching you”? No. They just disappeared and went somewhere else. And that’s what your customers are going to do. If you try to hide the fact that you are failing them, they still know you’re failing them. It’s just that they don’t believe that you care enough about them to tell them and to tell them when you’re going to resolve it, or that you, yourself, don’t know, which is the most frightening thing to them altogether. I’ve been watching a lot of sports shows where people argue about stuff and I think it’s time for some hard truths, right?
Scott Luton (30:05):
I’m with you. Hey, a couple quick comments. Calvin love that t-shirt-ism you shared earlier, again, empathy without action is empty. That’s a capital E. Jonathan says simply, “Gain 1 percent everyday.” I love that, Jonathan. Okay.
Scott Luton (30:22):
So, I got a two-part question. We’re kind of come around the home stretch here and we’re going to make sure we got some resources off our folks. And we’re going to make sure folks know how to connect with you, Diana. For this next question I want to just pose to you, because we’ve already kind of spoken so much of this question in terms of who benefits from effective, successful practical automation. But is there anyone we hadn’t mentioned, Diana? When you think about all the different benefits, who else?
Diana Eagen (30:48):
Well, certainly, we talked about on the supplier side, customer service, supply chain, of course all of those make sense. But I’m going to speak just personally just because I can tell you firsthand, I’m not sure anybody ever really wanted to be sold products. What they want is they want information. They need to make an informed business decision. As a buyer, Do you have the inventory? Okay. No, you don’t. But then, when are you going to have it? Buyers want transparency. So, sales teams are going to benefit. If you’re not providing that information timely and making it easy for them to find it, you’re missing out on some significant opportunities.
Diana Eagen (00:31:29):
Again, sales, customer service, those CSRs, those folks who are just so overlooked at organizations, just the thankless job for in-customer service, manually they’re digging for updates, they’re manually sending out emails to customers, they’re manually fielding all of these inbound inquiries. So, I would say when we look at automation in general through customer service, they’re going to be impacted the most, in my opinion.
Scott Luton (31:58):
And, you know, a lot of folks may not think about the sales functional area and the gains that can be had there which, of course, impacts revenue. And that will get a lot of board member’s attention, perhaps – boardroom’s attention, rather. Greg, your thoughts there on the who?
Greg White (32:12):
Of course, it’s your customer service reps. But, man, the less you can lean on them and the more definitive the answers can be and the more rapid the solutions are, I think it goes back to a point that Diana has made over and over again. And that is, that you have to serve your customers better and better to serve them first out of the gate rather than have to apologize for an error. And so much of what core technologies and AI and all of these solutions can do is help prevent you from having to have I’m sorry we screwed up customer service discussion.
Scott Luton (32:47):
I think Keith Moon would be very appreciative of how you both answered the question who. So, well done there, Diana and Greg. Let’s shift gears here. As I mentioned on the front end of today’s show, we’ve really enjoyed a variety of conversations like this with members of the Esker team. Of course, one of our favorite t-shirt-isms – Diana, you may have heard this before from Dan Reeve – is moving at the pace of a thousand gazelles, probably one of our top ten t-shirt-isms around here.
Greg White (33:13):
Are a thousand gazelles faster than one gazelle?
Scott Luton (33:16):
Greg, you’re rooting my visual.
Greg White (33:17):
Diana, I know you’re probably the one who asked him that, aren’t you?
Scott Luton (33:21):
You’re ruining my visual.
Greg White (33:23):
It’s a beautiful visual though.
Scott Luton (33:25):
Let’s make sure for the three people out there what does Esker do in a nutshell?
Diana Eagen (33:29):
Esker, basically, provides teams in customer service through supply chain with tools that fill in the gaps between their CRM, 3PL, and ERP systems. AI platform, basically, that can kind of help you balance that tightrope of cost to serve and quality service by eliminating all that busy and manual work. Generally, it’s around, again, triaging some central mailbox. It’s usually around creating and capturing transactions for orders and quotes, and managing claims, and RMAs. It’s engaging with customers with communication where’s my order. And sharing copies of invoices and those types of things automatically. Basically, with Esker, it’s kind of handing off those repetitive manual error-prone types of processes to automation technologies that kind of encourages collaboration on lots of different levels.
Scott Luton (34:33):
And a quick follow up question there, as Greg and I, one of our earliest rules through over a thousand episodes, and that doesn’t include livestreams and webinars, we don’t claim more than two decades of experience even though folks bring a lot more to the table. So, with that as a prefacing statement, Diana, this isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve been in industry, you’ve seen automation opportunities, improvement opportunities, your take here, it’s amazing what companies, big and small, with the opportunities they have to transform your employee’s experience or EX, their customers experience, everyone’s experience. There’s so many great opportunities and we’ve come so far, so fast, huh? And when you think back when you were first getting an industry and how tough it was for small beats big with regularity, right, Diana?
Diana Eagen (35:19):
It does. And, also, I think it’s important to say for some of the small businesses is that, again, AI doesn’t mean replacing humans with robots and algorithms.
Greg White (35:30):
As long as we got the opening here, let me go there. And this is where we often have this discussion around this expectation of automation or digital procedures. I like kind of the question that Sri asked there. This whole expectation around automation is that computers will or should do computer things so that humans can do human things. And a lot of what we’re talking about here are jobs that humans shouldn’t do anymore. And, frankly, the only reason that humans continued to do them was because we were protecting jobs for a generation that is now leaving the workforce at 10,000 a day. Soon, this won’t even be a discussion because there aren’t enough people in subsequent generations to replace the people, the baby boomer generation, to do the jobs that they are doing. And now it’s better if they’re done by automation than humans. It always would have been, frankly, better that they’d be done by humans for both the company and for the humans in a lot of cases, carpal tunnel syndrome, things like that, repetitive use injuries and other things like that. I think it’s important for us to acknowledge that and recognize that the world has enabled this change and that the current working generations expected.
Scott Luton (36:47):
Well said, Greg and Diana. You are just making a great demystifying statement around AI. Please continue.
Diana Eagen (36:54):
Yeah. I was just saying that we’re not going to replace the humans with robots and algorithms. We’re going to benefit, we’re going to profit from the best of both worlds. We’re going to replace all those dull tasks, the ones that are susceptible to mistakes with intelligent automation so the humans can focus on interacting with other humans again, as opposed to doing manual entry and tracking down information and those types of things. So, it’s going to let your customer service team focus on customer success as opposed to that administrative stuff that just bogs everything down.
Scott Luton (37:34):
So true. A lot of good stuff there. All right. You’ve brought some resources. The Esker team has brought this really cool resource. I’m going to bring up this graphic here. This is an ebook, Augmenting Customer Service – and get this – Providing Your Team with AI Tools That Unleash Their Superpowers. This is where the Hall of Justice and Wonder Twin Powers activate conversation pre-show came in. Diana, why should folks check this out and download it?
Diana Eagen (37:58):
It’s a great ebook and it really encapsulates what Esker does. Like I was mentioning, it’s that best of both worlds of kind of, again, filling in those gaps of your CRM, your 3PL, and your ERP. It’s going to show you some ideas of where you can automate, whether it’s triaging the central mailbox, whether it’s, again, capturing orders and quotes, or whether it’s engaging in customers with automated messaging. There’s some nice opportunities and ideas in there for those things.
Scott Luton (38:25):
Love that. Okay. Really have enjoyed your conversation and your take, and you and Greg in particular. So, let’s make sure folks, Diana, know how to connect with you and the Esker team, whether they want to invite you in, compare notes over coffee or adult beverage, or have you keynote, or something, or maybe just talk shop with you as much as we’ve enjoyed that over the last hour. So, how can folks connect with you and Esker?
Diana Eagen (38:48):
Well, if you want to connect with Esker, please by all means, just go to esker.com. That’s the fastest and quickest way because you’re going to get a direct chat to talk with somebody immediately. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. Again, Diana Eagen on LinkedIn. I mean, that’s an easy way if you would like to talk. I will often host webinars and other discussions around order-to-cash automation, really heavy these days into all of, unfortunately, the manual tasks that are happening in customer service. I’m dealing with a lot of that stuff these days. But I’m happy to have those conversations. And, also, if you’re interested in wanting to hear about what companies in your specific vertical might be doing, we’ve got a lot of those stories as well. So, please connect with me there.
Scott Luton (39:34):
Wonderful. We’ve come so far, but we still have so far to go. Appreciate your good work there. And sign me up for the next webinar, please. I’ve really enjoyed your perspective here today. Greg, before we let Diana go, your final thought here based on what she shared.
Greg White (39:50):
I’m glad that there are advocates out there who are both challenging companies to do something big that changes, probably, the fortunes of their company and, certainly, the job satisfaction of their people, but also recognizes that it starts small with little things, incremental improvements to be able to get that off the ground. First of all, it’s rare recognition that people both have that kind of big picture view and the necessity of doing little things to get those started. So, thank you. Really, this has been somewhat therapeutic. I bet it’s been therapeutic for a lot of our listeners to kind of talk through this and to sort of expose that none of us are insane. We all probably have latently expected exactly what you’ve described here and to know that it’s out there and attainable, it is, frankly, comforting. I feel comforted.
Scott Luton (40:41):
Yes, I’m with you. Well, clearly, Diana, we really enjoyed it. We’ve got a lot of comments we couldn’t get to here today. Thanks so much for being here. And in particular, where we started a lot of this, I really appreciate, again, your passion for busting down those manual processes, making lives better for all the folks out there, employee side, customer side, no matter industry side. Diana Eagen with Esker, we hope to see you again really soon. Thanks so much.
Diana Eagen (41:05):
Thank you guys.
Scott Luton (41:06):
Man, there was something about our pre-show, of course, we know the folks Esker pretty well, but, man, I could have bolted on a couple hours whether we streamed it or put it on T.V. like M*A*S*H. But I’ve enjoyed her perspective and what she’s seen out there in the industry, huh?
Greg White (41:21):
Well, she’s really an expert. She calls herself an enthusiast, but she’s really an expert. I think we’ve been having this conversation internally. I don’t know if I’ve said this in this form yet, but this whole notion of, “So I ride motorcycles, but I am not a biker. My cousin who is a biker informed me that I am not a biker. I am a motorcycle enthusiast.” And I think today, because of influencer platforms and things like this, we are surrounded by people who are supply chain enthusiasts. And probably recently so, enthusiasts because it’s opportunistic. But there are experts out there in the field, and Diana is one of them. She has enough years of experience doing it and solving it. And she has kind of a visionary goal. I mean, she gets the irony and the tragedy of how long it has taken to get some companies to the realization that they have to do something or die. And yet she’s willing to nudge them over the line rather than shove them over the line. You know, that’s really, really important that somebody can get you there and also help you know how to get there.
Scott Luton (42:31):
Well, folks, hey, easy opportunity to connect with Diana and her team at Esker. I think we dropped the link to the ebook there in the chat. One click away from getting that. And we also dropped, let’s see here, Diana’s LinkedIn profile, so y’all check that as well. You’ll enjoy speaking with her as much as we have. So, make sure y’all check that out.
Scott Luton (42:51):
Greg, great show here today. Really have enjoyed talking with Diana. A lot of great comments came in and we couldn’t get them all. But Jonathan’s in particular, for some reason, this should be posturized everywhere, Gain 1 percent everyday. If you want to know how to move mountains, there’s some simple advice right there. Jonathan, thanks for joining us here today. Okay. Big thanks to Amanda and Katherine, Chantel, Clay, you name it. All the folks behind the scenes help make production happen. Greg, always a pleasure to knock this out with you.
Greg White (43:18):
Scott Luton (43:19):
A lot of good stuff here today. But folks, hey, like we always say, you’ve heard some of the most been there, done that perspective advice, know-how ideas over the last hour. But it’s up to you to take action. Deeds, not words. So, with that said, Scott Luton and the whole team here challenging you to do good, to give forward, and to be the change. And 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.
Diana Eagen is the Director of Sales for Order-to-Cash solutions at Esker, a worldwide leader in digital transformation and process automation. For 25 years, Diana’s expertise has been providing software solutions that complement an organization’s current Finance and IT departments while improving their productivity, efficiency, and environmental impact. Diana’s passion at Esker is eliminating manual processes and helping customers decrease costs within the order-to-cash cycle. Connect with Diana on 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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
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.
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, 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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vice President, Production
Amanda is a production and marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Amanda currently manages, produces, and develops modern digital content for Supply Chain Now and their clients. Amanda has previously served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah, and founded and managed her own successful digital marketing firm, Magnolia Marketing Group. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now production team, you can find Amanda in the kitchen, reading, listening to podcasts, or enjoying time with family.
Constantine Limberakis is a thought leader in the area of procurement and supply management. He has over 20 years of international experience, playing strategic roles in a wide spectrum of organizations related to analyst advisory, consulting, product marketing, product development, and market research. Throughout his career, he's been passionate about engaging global business leaders and the broader analyst and technology community with strategic content, speaking engagements, podcasts, research, webinars, and industry articles.Constantine holds a BA in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA in Finance & Marketing / Masters in Public & International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.
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.
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 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 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.
Director of Sales
Tyler Ward serves as Supply Chain Now's Director of Sales. Born and raised in Mid-Atlantic, Tyler is a proud graduate of Shippensburg University where he earned his degree in Communications. After college, he made his way to the beautiful state of Oregon, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.
With over a decade of experience in sales, Tyler has a proven track record of exceeding targets and leading high-performing teams. He credits his success to his ability to communicate effectively with customers and team members alike, as well as his strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.
When he's not closing deals, you can find Tyler on the links or cheering on his favorite football and basketball teams. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing pick-up basketball, and traveling back to Ocean City, Maryland, his favorite place!
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.
Principal & CMO, 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.
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.