May 17, 2020

Capgemini: showcasing blockchain in the supply chain space

Supply Chain
Blockchain
Sean Galea-Pace
4 min
Jorg Junghanns discusses the importance of establishing a strategic blockchain approach in the supply chain space.
Jorg Junghanns, Vice President Europe, Digital Supply Chain of Capgemini, discusses the importance of establishing a strategic blockchain approach while...

Jorg Junghanns, Vice President Europe, Digital Supply Chain of Capgemini, discusses the importance of establishing a strategic blockchain approach while ensuring customer-centricity in the supply chain space.

With technological innovation accelerating on a rapid scale, an increasing number of companies are beginning to introduce blockchain into their operations in a bid to counteract cyberattacks. 

Blockchain is a relatively new technology. Having only existed for just over a decade, it has become a popular component of how companies keep their data encrypted and secure. At its core, blockchain is a chain of blocks, however, instead of a physical chain, there’s digital information (the block) stored in a public database (the chain). Jorg Junghanns, Vice President Europe, Digital Supply Chain of Capgemini, believes it’s important to first establish a clear blockchain strategy instead of implementing it with no direction. “There are several key questions to ask when setting up a blockchain approach,” affirms Junghanns. “What do you want to use it for? Is it the right thing? In what ways are you using blockchain? From there, you can critically assess if blockchain is the right choice.” Having spent 17 years at Accenture, Junghanns has the experience and pedigree to lead Capgemeni’s blockchain strategy. “Both companies operate a similar business model so it wasn’t a major difference,” he states. “At Accenture, I gained lots of experience in management consulting and it really laid the groundwork for me to succeed in my current role with Capgemini.”

As a research and advisory company that prides itself on delivering the best service to customers, Capgemini is recognised as a leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation. With a customer-centric mindset, Capgemini is continuously seeking how to better serve its customers through innovation amidst the ever-changing technological world. As a result, Junghanns points to the distinct advantages to leveraging blockchain. “It helps to fix problems such as transparency, trust, IT and process security. However, the blockchain solution only works if there’s a number of partners using it. It’s also important to form the right partnerships to make them part of your solution because convincing others to engage with you on in blockchain is one of the biggest challenges to overcome.” Capgemini offers a diverse range of services that caters to a variety of different sectors such as aerospace & defence, distribution, travel & transportation, automotive and telecoms. Junghanns affirms blockchain is still in its early concept stage as companies begin to search for the best ways to utilise it. “The key challenge is to convince others to engage with you on the blockchain journey along with the usual challenges of IT implementations, the cost involved and ensuring the right partners are onboard.”

The influence of new technology can’t be ignored. Over the past decade, artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data are increasingly impacting how businesses conduct operations. With companies worldwide searching for ways to leverage new tech in a bid to speed up their existing processes and differentiate from competitors, this has led to AI and machine learning (ML) becoming prominent features of businesses’ digital transformations. However, Junghanns believes there is still room for development before AI is considered an essential tool industry-wide. “Technology is becoming increasingly important, but is AI a key part of all businesses’ strategies at the moment? Not yet,” explains Junghanns.

The scale of what tomorrow’s technology could be is staggering. The supply chain industry remains keen to introduce technologies such as ML and AI to enhance productivity and streamline operations. “We primarily use AI for demand and network planning as well as fulfillment management,” he says. “We’re continuously looking at how we can include AI to better serve our clients but we certainly don’t rely on it.” With staying ahead of the curve paramount to success, Junghanns believes in the importance of juggling innovation with customer-centricity. “It’s our responsibility to identify a pragmatic solution that helps our clients. We have to be ahead of the latest trends,” he explains. “However, we must ensure we tailor-make solutions to our clients’ needs and integrate new technologies based on what they really want.” It’s fair to say Capgemini values its customers. With customer-centricity recognised as a core part of the company’s corporate values, Junghanns believes his firm’s success rests on how it treats its customers. “We’re fair, frank and open. We believe that we can help our customers achieve their targets more efficiently than anyone else. It’s about putting our client’s needs at the heart of what we do.”

Looking to the future, Junghanns has a clear vision for the future of the supply chain industry. “It’s clear that technology is the future of the supply chain space,” he says. “We’re currently working with our customers on ‘no touch supply chains’. We want to free up supply chain professionals and allow a greater focus on strategic thinking to enable better decisions to be made. We want to make life easier for the millions of executives working in supply chain. The future is full of uncertainties and exceptions but it’s how you manage these challenges that ensures you succeed in the future.”

 

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Jun 11, 2021

NTT DATA Services, Remodelling Supply Chains for Resilience

NTTDATA
supplychain
Supplychainriskmanagement
Procurement
6 min
Joey Dean, Managing Director of healthcare consulting at NTT DATA Services, shares remodelling strategies for more resilient supply chains

Joey Dean, the man with the coolest name ever and Managing Director in the healthcare consulting practice for NTT DATA and is focused on delivering workplace transformation and enabling the future workforce for healthcare providers. Dean also leads client innovation programs to enhance service delivery and business outcomes for clients.

The pandemic has shifted priorities and created opportunities to do things differently, and companies are now looking to build more resilient supply chains, none needed more urgently than those within the healthcare system. Dean shares with us how he feels they can get there.

A Multi-Vendor Sourcing Approach

“Healthcare systems cannot afford delays in the supply chain when there are lives at stake. Healthcare procurement teams are looking at multi-vendor sourcing strategies, stockpiling more inventory, and ways to use data and AI to have a predictive view into the future and drive greater efficiency.

“The priority should be to shore up procurement channels and re-evaluate inventory management norms, i.e. stockpiling for assurance. Health systems should take the opportunity to renegotiate with their current vendors and broaden the supplier channel. Through those efforts, work with suppliers that have greater geographic diversity and transparency around manufacturing data, process, and continuity plans,” says Dean.

But here ensues the never-ending battle of domestic vs global supply chains. As I see it, domestic sourcing limits the high-risk exposure related to offshore sourcing— Canada’s issue with importing the vaccine is a good example of that. So, of course, I had to ask, for lifesaving products, is building domestic capabilities an option that is being considered?

“Domestic supply chains are sparse or have a high dependence on overseas centres for parts and raw materials. There are measures being discussed from a legislative perspective to drive more domestic sourcing, and there will need to be a concerted effort by Western countries through a mix of investments and financial incentives,” Dean explains.

Wielding Big Tech for Better Outcomes

So, that’s a long way off. In the meantime, leveraging technology is another way to mitigate the risks that lie within global supply chains while decreasing costs and improving quality. Dean expands on the potential of blockchain and AI in the industry

“Blockchain is particularly interesting in creating more transparency and visibility across all supply chain activities. Organisations can create a decentralised record of all transactions to track assets from production to delivery or use by end-user. This increased supply chain transparency provides more visibility to both buyers and suppliers to resolve disputes and build more trusting relationships. Another benefit is that the validation of data is more efficient to prioritise time on the delivery of goods and services to reduce cost and improve quality. 

“Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) is another area where there’s incredible value in processing massive amounts of data to aggregate and normalise the data to produce proactive recommendations on actions to improve the speed and cost-efficiency of the supply chain.”

Evolving Procurement Models 

From asking more of suppliers to beefing up stocks, Dean believes procurement models should be remodelled to favour resilience, mitigate risk and ensure the needs of the customer are kept in view. 

“The bottom line is that healthcare systems are expecting more from their suppliers. While transactional approaches focused solely on price and transactions have been the norm, collaborative relationships, where the buyer and supplier establish mutual objectives and outcomes, drives a trusting and transparent relationship. Healthcare systems are also looking to multi-vendor strategies to mitigate risk, so it is imperative for suppliers to stand out and embrace evolving procurement models.

“Healthcare systems are looking at partners that can establish domestic centres for supplies to mitigate the risks of having ‘all of their eggs’ in overseas locations. Suppliers should look to perform a strategic evaluation review that includes a distribution network analysis and distribution footprint review to understand cost, service, flexibility, and risks. Included in that strategy should be a “voice of the customer” assessment to understand current pain points and needs of customers.”

“Healthcare supply chain leaders are re-evaluating the Just In Time (JIT) model with supplies delivered on a regular basis. The approach does not require an investment in infrastructure but leaves organisations open to risk of disruption. Having domestic centres and warehousing from suppliers gives healthcare systems the ability to have inventory on hand without having to invest in their own infrastructure. Also, in the spirit of transparency, having predictive views into inventory levels can help enable better decision making from both sides.”

But, again, I had to ask, what about the risks and associated costs that come with higher inventory levels, such as expired product if there isn’t fast enough turnover, tying up cash flow, warehousing and inventory management costs?

“In the current supply chain environment, it is advisable for buyers to carry an in-house inventory on a just-in-time basis, while suppliers take a just-in-case approach, preserving capacity for surges, retaining safety stock, and building rapid replenishment channels for restock. But the risk of expired product is very real. This could be curbed with better data intelligence and improved technology that could forecast surges and predictively automate future supply needs. In this way, ordering would be more data-driven and rationalised to align with anticipated surges. Further adoption of data and intelligence and will be crucial for modernised buying in the new normal.

The Challenges

These are tough tasks, so I asked Dean to speak to some of the challenges. Luckily, he’s a patient guy with a lot to say.

On managing stakeholders and ensuring alignment on priorities and objectives, Dean says, “In order for managing stakeholders to stay aligned on priorities, they’ll need more transparency and collaborative win-win business relationships in which both healthcare systems and medical device manufacturers are equally committed to each other’s success. On the healthcare side, they need to understand where parts and products are manufactured to perform more predictive data and analytics for forecasting and planning efforts. And the manufacturers should offer more data transparency which will result in better planning and forecasting to navigate the ebbs and flows and enable better decision-making by healthcare systems.

Due to the sensitive nature of the information being requested, the effort to increase visibility is typically met with a lot of reluctance and push back. Dean essentially puts the onus back on suppliers to get with the times. “Traditionally, the relationships between buyers and suppliers are transactional, based only on the transaction between the two parties: what is the supplier providing, at what cost, and for what length of time. The relationship begins and ends there. The tide is shifting, and buyers expect more from their suppliers, especially given what the pandemic exposed around the fragility of the supply chain. The suppliers that get ahead of this will not only reap the benefits of improved relationships, but they will be able to take action on insights derived from greater visibility to manage risks more effectively.”

He offers a final tip. “A first step in enabling a supply chain data exchange is to make sure partners and buyers are aware of the conditions throughout the supply chain based on real-time data to enable predictive views into delays and disruptions. With well understand data sets, both parties can respond more effectively and work together when disruptions occur.”

As for where supply chain is heading, Dean says, “Moving forward, we’ll continue to see a shift toward Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and advanced analytics to optimise the supply chain. The pandemic, as it has done in many other industries, will accelerate the move to digital, with the benefits of improving efficiency, visibility, and error rate. AI can consume enormous amounts of data to drive real-time pattern detection and mitigate risk from global disruptive events.”

 

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