The Technologies that enable Modern Supply Chain Management (John Atherton, Accenture AWS Business Group)

Show notes

Modern Supply Chain Management would be impossible without the powerful technologies that enable it. Our guest on today's episode of The Logistics Tribe is John Atherton, Global Lead for Supply Chain & Operations at the Accenture Amazon Web Services Business Group, a joint venture between Accenture and AWS.

Together with our host Boris Felgendreher, John talks about the following topics:

  • John and Boris' joint history at GT Nexus, the first cloud-based global supply chain platform

  • The evolution of cloud technology as the key enabler for modern supply chain management

  • Why just about any company with a global supply chain still has major gaps in their supply chain visibility

  • The IT infrastructures that global organizations rely on to manage their global operations and supply chain management

  • What advancements that have been made to improve the quality of supply chain data. What role Machine Learning and AI can play

  • The advent of a new breed of digital freight forwarders and if their technology stacks enjoy an advantage

  • How the upcoming downturn will effect funding opportunities for logtech startups

  • Amazon Web Services plans and ambitions in the area of logistics and supply chain management

  • How Accenture and AWS are partnering up to drive supply chain technology into global organizations

  • and much more

Helpful links:

The Accenture AWS Business Group:

John Atherton on LinkedIn:

Boris Felgendreher on LinkedIn:

Our supporters GreyOrange:

Show transcript

00:00:01: Hello and welcome to the logistics tribe I'm your host boys felgendreher and my guest today is Jonathan a trusted Confidant of mine.

00:00:13: They have known for many years and who is a bona fide expert when it comes to technology that enables modern Supply Chain management.

00:00:20: John and I have a John history that we were briefly touch on before we get into an awesome conversation on the evolution of tech that enables organizations to manage their Global Supply chains

00:00:30: through the chaos that we have come to call The New Normal these days,

00:00:34: John Connolly works for Accenture when he's a global lead for supply chain and operations at the Accenture Amazon web services business group a joint venture between Accenture and AWS,

00:00:45: before we get started a quick thanks to our supporters great orange and grey orange automate sway house operations through a combination of AI software and autonomous mobile robots.

00:00:54: Great orange systems on place at some very prominent companies.

00:00:58: Such as Ikea or the Danish household goods and Furniture retailer you ask if you're looking to get your warehouse and fulfillment operations to the next level with the help of autonomous robots and automation.

00:01:08: You should definitely have great orange on your list check them out at gray alright and now we're on to the show with John Atherton from Accenture enjoy

00:01:18: hello John welcome to the logistics tribe thanks for being on the program in Boris thank you so much for inviting me on I appreciate that the logistics tribe I'm a longtime listener and now I'm actually a participant so thank you

00:01:32: that's fantastic glad to hear they're glad to hear I'm just calculating we've known each other for 13 years I first met you in 2009.

00:01:39: When I started with GT Nexus you were part of the early team there as well,

00:01:44: you were part of the founding team of teaching Excellence right you know I was born almost yeah yeah I joined early on in April of.

00:01:52: Actually yeah not a lot of people know but the company operated under different name at that time and sort of a little known fact around the history of GT Nexus is prior to that brand name it was called trade Ians.

00:02:05: It's radiant yeah and yeah and our initial business model was really to be the Expedia of container shipping right

00:02:13: make bookings in one place across many carriers and

00:02:17: we soon got into other areas of business like managing Freight rates and that sort of thing and then reverse auctions were super hot in early 2000s and sure

00:02:27: eventually when we connected with a Consortium of carriers 9 or 10 ocean carriers

00:02:33: you know they didn't quite like this idea of reverse auction that some other companies were doing because by definition and reverse auction is you know the rates go down in any case because of that.

00:02:42: Perception along with that transaction where we recruited these carriers on we went through a rebranding it we became GT Nexus.

00:02:50: Yeah it's funny because when I tell my store budget next I always describe it as I was one of the first people on the ground in Europe,

00:02:58: in 2009 and I called it was a start-up world and it was but

00:03:01: the company was already nine years old at the time I do sometimes forget well yeah we went through many phases there of growth and we can talk a little bit more about it but yeah early on it was it was pretty basic you know a sort of this idea of taking a page out of the

00:03:14: Airline reservation system right we're passengers like you and me could go to a central place to look up a price for a flight from A to B and then

00:03:24: Book on a carrier of our choice and so to take that model in fact we had one of the board members and founders of Sabre Technologies on our board and so that was the length between passenger are reservation systems

00:03:36: and our original model of course we weren't alone at the time we were partnering primarily with a PL out of

00:03:45: Singapore at the time and a couple other Asian carriers and intra of course recruiting a number of carriers primarily in Europe may not exclusively a partner with martial law in for example

00:03:56: and and then evolutions of the company and and you know we grew our value proposition in our products and,

00:04:03: broaden more experts like you as we expand it across geographies and industries it was pretty exciting path yeah talking about expert when I look at your expertise I mean you've been in the business of logistics and supply chain prior to that.

00:04:15: And then the last what 20 years or so you really become an expert in that everything technology-related right you're the technology

00:04:22: that make Supply chains in modern Logistics run that's kind of the topic I want to touch on today as well but give us a little bit of a sense of where you were before GT Nexus and how then you got stuck with technology and what you've what you've done since,

00:04:36: sure before GT Nexus I worked for Sealand and as many of you may remember this was the largest US flagged container shipping line.

00:04:47: In fact the founder of Sealands you guys can all look this up was Malcolm McClain.

00:04:53: Who many look to be the inventor of who invented the container yeah

00:04:58: history right there man it really is it really is yes or even the 1950s as The Story Goes and you know that became seal and and a couple other brands in the domestic Market,

00:05:09: so I joined them as sort of a young,

00:05:13: I didn't know really anything about container shipping let alone technology but I had an interest in cartography and mapping actually majored in that as an undergrad in college.

00:05:25: I wanted to try key cartography who majors in cartography yeah

00:05:30: yeah exactly yeah well you know I guess I didn't really realize it but but this idea of mapping and location of course has gone mainstream and is super critical in all areas of Commerce and I wasn't quite quite that smart

00:05:44: to see that coming but I did ahead this this love for maps and.

00:05:49: You know we subscribe to National Geographic and that magazine came every month to our house and I was super interested in Far Away places,

00:05:57: you know like the Straits of Malacca and and some Koreans gate which is you know one of the Trans-Siberian railroad mountain passes

00:06:07: and I ended up joining seal and yeah in sort of the late 90s that's where I first learned about International Logistics and trade and how that all works and transport

00:06:18: but then yeah I moved into the technology space as I mentioned with GT Nexus.

00:06:26: In

00:06:29: By that point I knew a fair amount you know about how International ocean container shipping worked but I didn't know much about technology but that afforded me the opportunity to.

00:06:41: Bring those two together so as a product manager at GT Nexus in my first couple rolls there which was really the first.

00:06:48: Um deeper dive into technology and so yeah I learned about databases and.

00:06:54: Applications and user interface and applications programming interfaces apis and EDI and all this stuff which is great and yeah and since that time I've gone deeper into into technology that we can talk a little bit more.

00:07:08: As our conversation unfolds Boris but that's that's really where I feel comfortable I'm interested at the intersection of supply chain technology.

00:07:18: And also sort of business value and Innovation yeah and if you look back across all of the time that you spend in that space.

00:07:24: What for you were the major milestones in terms of Technology adoption of Technology what was the big game changers well I think you know really early on in.

00:07:33: It was it was a tough sell there was a lot of evangelizing for this thing called the cloud which wasn't called the cloud in 2000 right yeah which was I guess it was called the internet the internet.

00:07:45: Yeah but then also okay yeah I remember the time when when people couldn't tell the difference between internet Cloud were saying well Cloud that still I'm still using internet how is that different right so.

00:07:55: Tease tease that apart so the first generation was just moving stuff onto the web where it's not a manual it's not analog it's not facts and it's not email but it's.

00:08:04: It's managed somewhere via the Internet that was sort of the first generation when you talk about these marketplaces when you talk about auctions.

00:08:11: That's probably a fair thing to say that was not Cloud it was a web-based technology which is not quite Cloud yet right is that fair to say

00:08:19: yeah that is that is fair to say I would sort of characterize it by that first wave would be a customer that might take an on-premise technology application or stack.

00:08:30: And make it available through a web browser and so that their their advantages there but the fundamental technology deployment and arrangement

00:08:39: is still on-premise although accessible through the internet so the next step from there would be applications for supply chain planning and execution they're not

00:08:49: hosted on a local clients server in a data center but may be hosted by a third party but the model still fundamentally the same which is its there instance.

00:08:58: And yes their employees can access it through an internet browser anytime globally which is great.

00:09:04: But the next most important change and evolution as I recall it was really this idea of a shared Cloud infrastructure.

00:09:12: Meaning that technology stack

00:09:15: weather for planning and execution or warehousing this idea of multiple clients accessing the same thing was really sort of revolutionary and early on you know a lot of clients were anxious they were nervous about that.

00:09:29: That how on Earth could I let alone you know put my data into into the cloud or onto the internet.

00:09:36: But then in a shared instance with other customers that might even be my competitors well once we got past that topic of security.

00:09:45: Because after all that model doesn't work unless you're 100% secure I think the light bulb started to go off this idea of customers and partners.

00:09:56: Using the same technology stack could then collaborate around the same business objects on the physical and financial Supply chains.

00:10:03: Becomes much more efficient and works at scale.

00:10:07: The cost to maintain that system can be low because it's amortized or shared across all the customers of course this is sort of what I'm describing as the evolution of a network in the cloud and and that's that's the model that GT Nexus adopted and many others we weren't alone.

00:10:21: At that time but that was really breakthrough I think this that

00:10:24: sort of evolution one into this idea of a network in the cloud and a shared infrastructure in hindsight when you look back would you have expected

00:10:32: this technology to be adopted faster of course we were hoping for it to be adopted faster but it literally took another decade before it really became mainstream didn't it yeah that's true and in some sense you know there's still plenty of room to grow.

00:10:45: You know I said looking back I think some of the reasons around why we didn't see as rapid adoption

00:10:51: as maybe would have liked and same with other technology players in the space is linked to maybe a stance or posture own security then also into as I recall this idea of change in the way

00:11:04: companies thought about their supply chain systems and also the people in the experts that took advantage of that technology because.

00:11:13: Technology in the cloud can be configured on the fly it can rapidly change you can deploy features quickly that's a different mentality and approach.

00:11:23: For many companies and so this idea of talent and re-skilling

00:11:27: to take advantage of cloud Technologies I think was a barrier to adoption and then also this idea of evolution of features and functions you know that the further companies mature and that space the more they need to tailor their solutions to industry-specific.

00:11:41: Approaches you know I think you know most people think of the supply chain as being a horizontal that sort of all customers have the same supply chain challenges which is true.

00:11:52: Matching supply and demand,

00:11:53: but when you go into the industry level there they're much different discrete manufacturing versus process versus Life Sciences retail right they all have their nuances.

00:12:02: And so it took us a while to start to tailor some of the solutions along the industry lines

00:12:07: yeah let's let's take our favorite example supply chain visibility as a kid as a case in point and the case study here we are

00:12:15: 2022 we just almost turned the turn the band turn the corner on the biggest supply chain disruption we've ever experienced with covid and everything was related to it it's not quite over

00:12:24: there's a next one lurking on the horizon with the China lockdown and so forth we don't need to get into all these details but more and more

00:12:31: I hear the same complaints that companies have that I used to hear ten years ago that they don't have the visibility they need

00:12:38: to manage their Global Supply chains where did things go wrong is the technology not there what's

00:12:44: kept people all these years from developing or getting supply chain visibility that they should have to weather a crisis like this in a better way basically in my own opinion on that Boris is that technology is not a barrier.

00:12:58: I believe the technology has been there now for a decade and by this I mean you know the ability to collect information and data from a variety of supply chain partners and systems.

00:13:10: And get that stuff in one place and normalize it and connect objects together orders and shipments.

00:13:17: I think the real blocker again is not technology but it's more around adoption and.

00:13:23: Another words if we have a work with a big anchor client it's fairly easy of course to get their systems connected and we provide services or others in the industry to connect their Partners but the enforcement of that and the,

00:13:35: adoption that the client needs to enforce with their Partners is critical if you look at a an Enterprise supply chain they have probably hundreds of Partners.

00:13:45: That managed one or many parts of their operations on their behalf but but not all are.

00:13:52: Integrated not all are focused to the same level as others and so this this idea of,

00:13:59: enforcement across the constellation of Partners in a customer Supply chains key so that's more about change management really and Leadership and communication of a strategy,

00:14:09: I think rather than.

00:14:11: Blockers around technology and the inability to integrate EDI for example and that's largely been solved and and these days that's even easier with,

00:14:20: with apis and other technology features yeah let's maybe spend some time to think about yes the technology is there,

00:14:27: but it's a really one vendor for example is that one platform as a one company that you can turn to to get all your visibility needs met

00:14:35: I don't think there is because the you still have situations where while this player is very very strong and ocean Freight and this player is very very strong and in North American Truck transports and there's different pockets of.

00:14:46: Of just greatness and of best breed applications for certain kinds of visibility.

00:14:52: But I have yet to see one vendor or one platform or one whatever you want to call it one network.

00:14:57: That gives me all of that will that ever be the case is that even desirable for that to be the case or whether I always have a situation where.

00:15:04: If I'm a global operating company and I want complete supply chain visibility and all my regions down to the item level,

00:15:10: across all modes of Transport I would need to tap into 510 different different suppliers of that

00:15:16: sort of visibility I agree I think that's the case it's unrealistic maybe even naive to think that there's going to be one universal system that does it all right Supply chains are so complex these days they.

00:15:31: They change dynamically in a rapid pace and customers that we work with,

00:15:37: still rely on a whole fabric of different kind of fit for purpose applications across that supply chain operating reference model score right from Upstream,

00:15:47: sort of planning and sourcing to manufacturing to fulfillment and service it's a big wide world out there so.

00:15:54: I think that customers will continue to rely on a collection of of applications in vendors that being said.

00:16:02: He sort of the second dimension is but all those need to somehow at the end of the day connect and so I do think that there is an underlying foundational.

00:16:11: The customers need to store data that can come from a variety of systems but eventually get in one place where they can harness the incredible potential.

00:16:19: In sort of a collection of data and a range of information across our supply chain so yes a variety of systems for business.

00:16:28: Fit for purpose activities but then a common Foundation that connects them together yeah.

00:16:33: So this basically what the new breed of digital Freight forwarders like the flex part of the world and then Cargoes of the world.

00:16:40: What they are building in a small scale so to speak for a certain customer segment that goes only through them they get the entire stack,

00:16:47: anymore digital way they got all the Integrations they got all this functionality and all this visibility from one place but that's not really applicable for anybody,

00:16:56: that's very very large and operates and users I don't know ten different Logistics providers

00:17:02: with different kinds of Technology background and so forth what do you make of what the Gap comes in that these new breed of digital Freight forwarders are serving yeah I love the idea of a new age sort of digital first Freight forwarder

00:17:14: you know typically they're their asset light their Nimmo they're leveraging new technologies primarily,

00:17:22: Cloud native heavy on newer elements inside of that such as machine learning and artificial intelligence you know some of those companies that you've mentioned I think are off to a great start they're getting

00:17:33: a lot of momentum I'm not an expert really with any of those companies but it feels a little bit like there,

00:17:39: real sweet spot so far as been with small to medium-sized businesses that's a general observation not not evidenced and you're right the further.

00:17:48: Up the Enterprise ladder you go to the biggest of the big Global Fortune 100 or 1,000 companies.

00:17:55: The more likely it is they'll want that for PL capability sort of in their own hands,

00:18:00: and they maintain control so I think those companies will have an evolution there too if they decide to start to call in the largest of Enterprises across Industries and geographies

00:18:09: and the other thing at least in the case of one of those this threading the needle and playing both sides of the fence which is.

00:18:17: Neutral technology-based forwarder that can work across a range of providers but also providing their own services and wanting to funnel Freight into their Network.

00:18:27: To streamline that and make it more efficient and cost-effective for themselves so that will be an interesting Journey,

00:18:32: for some of those companies to chart in the future yeah that's maybe focus on on the The Big Daddy's of the world the large Global corporations that have.

00:18:40: Complicated Global Supply chains and let's go back to the visibility problem because I think that's the most urgent one that's a very prescient one that's one that's been talked about forever but even more so in the last couple of years what options,

00:18:54: and capabilities do companies have today that they didn't have let's say five years ago has there been

00:19:00: major breakthroughs and major changes or is it still the same old that we used to have five years ago maybe ten years ago I think a little of both you know some of the early models that evolved that we talked about before like for example this networked model.

00:19:14: Right customers on a Share technology instance remains relevant and important some of the things that have changed in my sense would be the.

00:19:23: Ability to to gather data is probably easier today than it was before which is really impressive if you think about the explosion of sources of data.

00:19:33: Especially with Internet of Things iot sensors on everything that moves and even maybe standing still inside of a factory you know the number of.

00:19:43: Sources of data now is so much more than it was 20 years ago but technology is Advanced and the way to collect that data normalize it for both structured information and unstructured.

00:19:55: Is really a remarkable breakthrough and so that's very different.

00:19:59: But again I think it's a combination of a customer who wants to achieve visibility that they have the right strategy in place the right level of enforcement with their partners.

00:20:10: And that they're thinking about data holistically you know I do go back to the Playbook of physical.

00:20:16: And financial Supply chains that's a great way to think about it the movement of stuff and the movement of money because those are those are connected and they forever will be and so collecting data with that in mind.

00:20:27: Is it important part of the strategy and maybe the last thing I'll add would be you know this emergence of all sorts of.

00:20:35: Other information so here I'm thinking of for example in the demand side.

00:20:40: Customers who need a better way to forecast or predict upcoming demand spikes or troughs which would be social media.

00:20:48: And other signals maybe in an unstructured format that are new and can be harnessed if captured in and put to work appropriately.

00:20:58: Yeah so that's pretty exciting I think yeah what advancements have been made in the area of ensuring data quality

00:21:05: I'm going back to our shared history data quality was always an issue in any supply chain regardless of platform regarded of tools regardless of Partners you use of course there's a scale there's partners that are better at data quality and others but

00:21:18: you know this old adage garbage in garbage out is still true.

00:21:22: One of the biggest challenges we've always run into is how do I ensure that what I'm measuring what I'm basing my decisions on is actually reliable data what progress has been made to ensure data quality I think the primary advancement in that area data quality.

00:21:37: Is probably a machine-learning right it's this idea of a more advanced engine.

00:21:42: That can can learn right as the name suggests from previous data to make better judgments on future data.

00:21:50: So as machine learning based engines you know go through a series of data sets of data these engines can sort of look at and determine where errors are maybe in timestamps or codes and then automatically,

00:22:04: self correct for that now that wasn't the case 20 years ago so that's probably the primary way where this whole idea of data quality is now,

00:22:13: being solved in a much faster and more automated way and at scale right so these two things go together which is super important right you think about the explosion of sources of data.

00:22:23: Billions of data points the importance of getting data quality right right is heightened.

00:22:29: And to do that manually or in a semi-automated way just is insufficient and won't scale.

00:22:36: And that's where this idea of machine learning and even artificial intelligence becomes that much more important to tackle.

00:22:43: Inequalities and data levels but also at the scale and also at the pace that customers need.

00:22:49: Yeah so that's really important evolution in terms of cloud we're going to talk about it I'm is on web servers in a second here because you're very close to that joint venture with Accenture of course but talk to me about the advancements that have been made in Cloud.

00:23:04: I mean I can already guess it's gotten cheaper it's gone faster it's gotten more potent but give me more specifics as to how quickly Cloud technology has evolved in the last let's say five years against to give a good frame of time reference

00:23:17: wow the evolution of cloud I would say it is first of all,

00:23:20: accelerating so the pace of innovation the feature sets that rollout just happen more frequently and faster every year

00:23:28: didn't we saw okay so it's not a situation where most of the big advancement of the made and it's all available now it's sort of a almost a commodity it can be used and it's sort of there for everybody but it's it's actually

00:23:38: evolving and getting better still at an exponential rate you're saying that's my opinion yeah I think if we looked at the stats that's probably still the case I would say some areas or categories of cloud computing maybe our commoditized is one way to describe it.

00:23:53: You know storage database compute power maybe that's commoditize that's true across all the major Cloud providers.

00:24:01: But even within that there's a whole range of advancements you know if you really dig down into cloud-based Computing the compute power and the type of chips that are using their optimized for certain tasks and routines you know it is it can be differentiated.

00:24:16: But I'm thinking you know continued advancements for us in the area of for example computer vision like that continues to evolve at an incredible rate.

00:24:25: You know the ability to take a camera now pointed at for example yard operations outside of a distribution center.

00:24:33: Write a camera can now monitor trucks where they're where they're moving to and from how fast they're moving the type of truck that it is in fact there's technology now where.

00:24:44: An open developer developers kit can be added to a regular camera and all of a sudden make it intelligent so that's a really good example of.

00:24:53: An advancement in technology that continues to evolve and that's just one area of many and then this other idea of maybe connecting these together you get exponential.

00:25:02: Value in connecting new technologies together so if you took computer vision + machine learning.

00:25:09: Then you can take that example of my my trucks the trucks at the yard in the DC but then apply it across many facilities.

00:25:16: That's just one facility but imagine if a customer has and often they do you know 100 150 facilities around the world.

00:25:24: Where they can start to exchange data make Improvement based on one observation out of yard versus another and that amount of information that's collected.

00:25:33: Through Telemetry cameras other systems like warehouse management systems.

00:25:38: Storing that in normalizing it like we talked about earlier and then making rapid decisions on it is kind of remarkable its breakthrough you talk to us about the joint venture you guys have with Amazon web servers what's that all about and what your role is there.

00:25:49: And why you still tying it all back to the supply chain

00:25:52: yeah it's pretty exciting you know my my so-called Accenture Adventures had like three main chapters if you will you know I joined originally Boris in the supply chain and operations practice I spent about two years in Accenture Innovation and Ventures,

00:26:06: helping customers you know experience and think about the art of possible in the future and then I've been in this joint group with AWS for the like the last two years this is a.

00:26:18: A pretty common model in the industry you know you have big big technology players that have great,

00:26:23: capabilities and want to scale of course but they're not really.

00:26:28: Designed for services at scale and so here's where technology companies often partner with companies like Accenture and others.

00:26:37: And so that's the formula that we're taking to Market.

00:26:40: So thank AWS technology plus Accenture Services can lead to more value faster with our clients so that's the basic formula of the group that all men and I'm focused on supply chain so.

00:26:53: Think about using that those same ingredients AWS technology such as infrastructure storage compute networking Analytics.

00:27:02: But also more advanced capabilities around Ai and ml that's called,

00:27:07: Amazon Sage maker or forecasting technology that's Amazon forecast and coupling that with Accenture services.

00:27:14: Strategy and advisory Consulting implementation and even ongoing run this is our operations where we can even run.

00:27:21: One or many parts of a customer supply chain so that's what I do it's pretty exciting chart and of course along with my colleagues on the AWS side and.

00:27:29: And this is a model of the Sentra has in fact with with many big technology providers across the planet yeah

00:27:35: that makes sense let's let's talk about the chief supply chain officer for example with those be the folks that mostly make decisions around applications that are being used in supply chain or are they dealing directly with Amazon web services and building their own applications on top of that for example like talk to me about the the relationship between the different applications they use and then something I Amazon web servers that you help them Implement for example where does that come into play and how did they work together

00:27:58: well one way to think about it is to use an analogy of Lego blocks and at a WS that's really the path that they've taken they have individual

00:28:07: technology capabilities think of that as a brick a Lego block and they have a lot of them

00:28:13: there is in fact there's about two hundred and twelve of them and their new Lego blocks that come out every every year and their their status strategy has been to rather than

00:28:23: pre-configure these Lego blocks into an application

00:28:26: that may or may not fit into a customer's it landscape or fit a business need they've taken a much more open and flexible approach lots of Lego blocks.

00:28:36: So then the,

00:28:38: responsibility or opportunity depending on how you look at it rests with the client themselves so sometimes a clients,

00:28:47: it team right has the level of expertise and knowledge to put together the Lego blocks in a way that makes sense.

00:28:55: And a lot of other cases though this is where Global Systems integrators like Accenture and others right blend industry knowledge say in life sciences or retail or another vertical.

00:29:06: With horizontal expertise around supply chain planning and execution and we help put the Lego blocks together in a meaningful way.

00:29:15: Got it okay yeah yeah so that's how that's how it's working right now and I think it's a great balance of,

00:29:23: you know flexibility but also.

00:29:26: Ease of putting These Bricks together in a rapid way right we're not talking about oh let's think about and design a solution that takes into account six or seven different Lego blocks and it takes a year and a half

00:29:39: roughly to deploy you know here we're talking weeks or even days.

00:29:43: And that's really where some of the magic of AWS rate of innovation and their Cloud delivery model yeah it really is impressive it's just speed is is so much faster.

00:29:53: Then traditional models

00:29:55: yeah I've seen that Google cloud services I mean they're doing something similar and I've also seen them show up in the world of supply chain where they're starting to build applications I mean real supply chain applications will just applications on top of their Cloud stack so to speak is that.

00:30:10: Is Amazon web service doing something similar as it always building blocks that can be configured for any purpose but they're not purpose-built applications,

00:30:17: like supply chain Logistics applications well it's an interesting

00:30:22: question and and I would say the answer is that a WS like the other large Cloud providers will continue with a flexible approach on the foundation but it is true that they're moving what I'll call up the stack.

00:30:35: Right up to stack into a more fit for purpose business applications sort of this idea of pre-configured Lego blocks together and that's happening I mean if g c Google Cloud platform has a couple examples Microsoft azure.

00:30:49: And on the AWS side you know like I mentioned earlier this idea of Amazon forecast.

00:30:54: This is really an important Evolution that that particular area of their technology portfolio went General availability probably a year ago.

00:31:05: And if you think about it what really happened was you know as Amazon continue to evolve their physical supply chain Network.

00:31:12: They also wanted better technology to forecast for their own needs and the needs of their customers and so they built a forecasting and planning tool.

00:31:21: And then eventually got to scale a maturity and they made it available to other clients which is the Amazon Play right yeah I can totally imagine that I could I could I mean I could just vision

00:31:30: a whole bunch of solutions coming out from Amazon based on Amazon web servers that have used internally first and then get large and then they get used across the industry and across other Industries right that's right there a couple examples there you know what another great

00:31:44: a great story is as start to accelerate 10 tens of thousands of customers hundreds of thousands of customers they needed a call center support package rise customers called in

00:31:56: and they couldn't find a commercial off-the-shelf call center software package that fit their needs so they built one.

00:32:04: From scratch now and that developed it got mature and then eventually they turned out externally that's called Amazon connect it's one of the leading web-based call Center Technology packages on on the planet.

00:32:15: Amazon web services itself is another great example,

00:32:19: right Amazon created a whole series of cloud-based microservices and apis and that got to scale and that went into the market that's called Amazon web services is now one of their biggest

00:32:30: most most profitable businesses

00:32:32: and I wouldn't be surprised I would say for those of you that have been reading in the news recently that the next big wave or Evolution would be.

00:32:41: Amazon making their supply chain and Logistics capabilities available externally as well which I started writing which I start already is fulfillment by Amazon which is basically that play right where the become a logistics provider for external companies without you having to go south with the platform but it's,

00:32:56: its fulfillment by Amazon right,

00:32:58: yeah that's right selling on that platform for people not sitting on the platform yeah if you look back just a couple weeks ago in fact there was a press release introducing a new program called by with.

00:33:08: And maybe you know the majority of consumers didn't really pay attention but it's really important and and describe simply it's the ability now for.

00:33:18: Any seller or Merchant.

00:33:20: Can operate and interact with their customers directly write direct-to-consumer over their own website and.

00:33:28: Basically configure and a day by with prime button on their own website and what that means is as a customer engages in a sale even though they're buying the product quote-unquote off Amazon.

00:33:41: It will be fulfilled by Amazon so so the channels now we're going to be much wider for Amazon and other companies to take advantage of this massive infrastructure that they've invested in which by the way,

00:33:54: is no Small Change we,

00:33:56: industry research suggests that they've invested over 200 billion dollars us since 2015 and their Logistics Network so that's resulted in.

00:34:06: The massive infrastructure that we all read about 500 Distribution Centers 60,000 trucks and vans.

00:34:13: 45,000 warehouse robots 85 cargo planes by this point you know they're moving more packages per year than FedEx so it's pretty impressive and as they continue to externalize that much the same way they did with Amazon web services.

00:34:28: Right now businesses Enterprise,

00:34:31: great businesses and others can take advantage of that in the market yeah so what kind of clients are you working with what sort of implementations are you working on together these mostly

00:34:40: large Global multinational companies are they small medium Enterprises it's all of the above it's not all the above it's the big guys yeah yeah accenture's formula over the years will continue and

00:34:51: and although Amazon caters to companies of all sizes and Amazon web services has the same sort of variety of clients.

00:34:59: We operate at the at the intersection of,

00:35:03: of the biggest Enterprises globally so those with yeah large Global complex Supply chains multi geography,

00:35:11: multimode that's sort of our sweet spot and we think that's where there's a significant value proposition especially when you connect you know physical and financial together so this whole idea of.

00:35:22: Speeding up cash conversion cycle 's you know powered and accelerate by the cloud can really unlock a ton of value for all three parties,

00:35:29: involved in that yes anymore but some exciting applications are big exciting stuff that you're making possible with this like what some some cool advanced moves that your clients can make as a result of this new technology

00:35:42: well I'd say right now we're seeing many examples where customers are looking to.

00:35:48: Advanced engines machine learning and artificial intelligence in the case of a WS this is called Amazon Sage maker.

00:35:56: And using that and pointing it at planning and forecasting topics so the idea of being smarter.

00:36:05: And more accurate in predictions into the future so an example might be better forecasting for demand and then dynamically allocating inventory.

00:36:16: Based on that demand and the updated.

00:36:19: Inputs in real time so that's really really cool part which is oh wow this whole thing called AI actually being put to work.

00:36:28: Which this we talked about earlier Boris in the area of data quality or an engine self learning about how to repair data but now think about an engine that can self learn and improve on predictions in the future it's like the supply chain crystal ball,

00:36:43: that can be trusted and is based on science that's probably one of the most exciting areas recently with our clients both around demand forecasting Supply.

00:36:52: Transport.

00:36:54: So that's a good example yeah what do you think things are headed what's coming next what do you think is the next big thing I think we'll probably see a continuation of this idea that not all Supply chains are created equal.

00:37:08: And so the Holy Grail surprised yeah yeah surprise surprise yeah Atholton with a very obvious statement

00:37:15: Captain Obvious but you know you think about rewinding the clock 50 years ago for some Industries and companies well as basically the same supply chain that inbound Supply and.

00:37:26: Outbound demand it was very predictable and it was the same every time and.

00:37:30: Of course that's changed and it will continue to change this Holy Grail of a supply chain segments of.

00:37:36: Right so if I'm a customer I'm selling to a specific business or even more to the point to specific consumer like you were me.

00:37:45: Right I want to tailor my whole experience around that specific consumer from there they're buying experience to their supply chain and fulfillment experience right I want to make it.

00:37:56: Predictable reliable easy and you just can't get to that scale.

00:38:02: With millions of consumers across the planet without Automation and data.

00:38:07: And so kind of connecting all these teams back together Boris it's the ability to collect data from lots of sources normalize it quickly.

00:38:17: And then use advanced intelligence to make systematic and accurate decisions so you can automate.

00:38:23: A lot of that if you had a million Supply chains you need automation to manage the ones that can be managed through autonomous approaches.

00:38:34: The majority of them hopefully and then only focus on a subset where you need to intervene.

00:38:39: And make advanced decisions yeah so I think that's where we're going yeah you talked to earlier about your stint or your time and attention when you talked about Innovations and startups the startup World you've spent a lot of time and started World yourself if you look back last five years or so.

00:38:54: Real new way for new emergence of these new breed of tech enabled luck Tech startups a lot of money went into the space a lot of the prominent unicorns that

00:39:06: emerged out of that wave of excitement and new innovation and people flocking to startups in logistics and supply chain like we hadn't really seen in any other time before.

00:39:15: Of course now as we see the stock prizes and IPO markets and the ability to access money is sort of

00:39:22: darkening a bit I mean do you sense the same I'm you in the Bay Area you are at the poles of this do you feel that this is cooling down are you afraid of it cooling down and this all coming to stop and there was a bubble and now we're sort of exploding or is this

00:39:35: this Hive in this bubble.

00:39:37: That will burst only related to startups in general but it will spare so to speak Logistics and supply chain because the need is so big there,

00:39:46: and the value that's being created by these startups that innovate and that space is so big that funding will still be available and this whole thing will still Thrive what's your take on that yeah my sense is that it will continue.

00:40:00: You know as I cross the board or just for the space a logistics and supply chain lock Tech in general because actually get the sense that you know there's there's some there's been some layoffs that's been some.

00:40:09: Some day will be some down rounds and downsizing coming up in very prominent startups,

00:40:16: the general sense that I get is that the sort of Heyday the real the real the fat years are over for now for startups but maybe it's too early but

00:40:26: a place to get your sense because you're very close to the action being being in the very area yeah yeah I think on that one well we'll have to see you know at least in the US with increasing interest rates

00:40:36: you know is a recession looming here in the future and how does covid play out some of the political situations around the globe.

00:40:46: You know could have an impact on overall economies and growth across the across the globe but that aside I don't see investment subsiding,

00:40:55: into startups in supply chain and Logistics I think it will continue.

00:41:00: I think you know this is all exacerbated by covid of course Labour shortage has the need for more Automation and Technology,

00:41:07: for example and we're houses basically fewer employees available heightens the need for Automation and you're seeing that in the newspaper every day I mean there's still lots of money going into into startups.

00:41:18: And also to it's sort of interesting I think the world of warehousing is a very hot area for investment.

00:41:25: You know this idea of positioning inventory closer to your customers may be inside of cities even retrofitting stores to become micro fulfillment centers.

00:41:34: There's a lot of press right now around private equity and other sources of funding investors getting into the warehouse and facility area

00:41:42: which is pretty exciting as well so I think we'll continue you know you're I'm excited for those those companies I wish them nothing but the best sort of generation to to building I'm a total I'm a total startup

00:41:54: I would call it Fanboy because I'm also critical of some business models and valuations that make little sense but but I generally just want.

00:42:02: Startups in that space to succeed and be successful and I want tons of unicorn startup founder making tons of money and then reinvesting it in smaller startups and starting all over again that's that's a beautiful thing

00:42:13: it really is and I think you're seeing it with a lot of these companies also the integration of being sustainable,

00:42:21: and sort of doing this while having the best interests of citizens and sort of our globe.

00:42:27: In mind so that's really nice to see as well and in some of the Soul philanthropic aspects income with some of that success to yeah,

00:42:36: but now you're working for a company that what has like seven hundred thousand employees here in the big corporate world now do you ever expect to get back into the to the smaller startup world

00:42:45: maybe you're right I Accenture it's Public public information we're open over seven hundred thousand employees under 1000 crazy really it's I think roughly the.

00:42:56: Twice the size of Iceland I was just in Reykjavik the other month,

00:43:00: fantastic place but to think that my companies may be twice as big as their entire population brings a lot of variety which is great and capability we have a really diverse Workforce I'm a True Believer that.

00:43:12: Innovation and creativity is accelerated through a sort of a range and diversity of thought

00:43:18: but any case that that's one of the one of the big advantages of a big company like Accenture so what I returned to the startup World well you never know

00:43:27: Boris now this kind of this too

00:43:30: well I'm just happy that you got your eyes peeled on that space again of logistic supply chain you've taken eyes of a little bit for small stint of time but now you're you're back in business that's where you belong so fantastic yeah thanks

00:43:43: yeah thank you thank you I'm happy to be back in the zone it's just a fascinating one that's always changing John it was great talking to you about technology and supply chain Logistics related stuff.

00:43:51: Always a great conversation thanks for coming on the show really appreciate it thanks man well thanks for having me it's an honor to be part of the logistics tribe I can't wait to tell my mom that I'm here on the podcast so hi Mom thanks for listening

00:44:04: hey you go thanks and take care until next time thank you.

00:44:08: All right that was the logistics tribe podcast episode with Jon Etherton from Accenture if you enjoyed Today's Show please make sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don't miss any of the future episodes

00:44:19: Boris felgendreher until next time.

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