Gartner Supply Chain Event 2019: a New Era

Gartner Event 2019

The QAD DynaSys Pilgrimage.

On May 16, QAD DynaSys made their annual pilgrimage to Phoenix Arizona to join 3500 other supply chain leaders and analysts from all corners of the globe for what is touted as the largest supply chain gathering in the world.  The Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference is the second largest Gartner event after the Symposium. This event offers an unparalleled opportunity to network with our peers and contributes to discussions focused on the digital transformation of supply chains.  It is plainly evident that supply chains globally are experiencing forces of change in multiple dimensions. Whether it be the advancement of new technology, the adoption of XaaS strategies, or the pressures of geopolitical upheavals. The forces of change were pervasive throughout the event in every keynote, breakout session, and round table discussion.  The key difference between this year’s event and those previous is that many new ideas and technologies have now evolved from their embryonic stages to early maturity. This creates a tangible and exciting glimpse of the future of global supply chains.

The theme this year focused on confronting disruption and was labelled “A New Era: Converging the Physical and Digital”.  The event blended the lessons of the past with aspirations for the future to deliver sustainable supply chain growth.

This year’s was even more special for QAD DynaSys as we appeared with our new naming and branding.  There were many surprised faces as we now go to market with our blue QAD replacing the well-known orange.  The reception was overwhelmingly positive as followers of both QAD and DynaSys saw the value of the closer alignment.

Balancing Agile with Efficient.

Many supply chain events focus on the need for agility to manage the uncertainty in markets and supply channels.  In Phoenix, it was refreshing to hear that the quest for agility comes with the potential cost of loss of efficiency.  Attendee mobile phone cameras were flashing constantly as Marko Pukkila delivered a balanced and insightful session on the use of entrenched parameters such as the traditional frozen horizon, which few practitioners question, against the need for short-horizon demand sense and respond.

What is Old is New.

Despite the change, there are some areas of the supply chain that continually re-emerges in business priorities.  In an S&OP session conducted by Gartner Analyst Amber Salley, almost half of the 200 plus attendees signaled that they were currently engaged in some form of S&OP improvement.  Many companies require improved decision-making capabilities from S&OP through embedded analytics and multi-enterprise collaboration. With all of the additional data and technology available, many manufacturers struggle to leverage their data for fact-based decision making and actionable insights.

Supply Chain Winners

The formal highlight of the event is the annual Supply Chain of the year which this year went to Colgate Palmolive.  There were also 6 industry winners. “Colgate-Palmolive’s strong financial performance, combined with its focus on an aligned organization and impressive work in corporate social responsibility, helped drive the move up from the fourth position in 2018 to the top spot in 2019,” said Mike Griswold, Vice President at Gartner.

I quietly note the rise of Chinese retail companies JD.com and Alibaba who debuted in the rankings.  I feel this is the start of a wave we will see a lot more of in other industries besides retail.

Key Takeaways

This event offers QAD DynaSys value on many dimensions.  These include networking, branding, education, customer relations, lead generation, analyst & media relations, recruitment opportunities, and competitive intelligence.

A key takeaway was the acknowledgment of the slow uptake of Blockchain technology in mainstream supply chains.  The industry appears to be waiting for Blockchain 2.0 which will resolve the security and scalability challenges currently being experienced.  What that looks like and when it will arrive remains to be seen.

We also enjoy engaging with our competitors.  QAD DynaSys prides itself on its ability to be rapid to market with new ideas.  This has consistently been proven with trends such as DDMRP and in-memory supply chain simulations.  This event gives us a sneak peeks into what our competitors are doing so we can measure our advancement. This is especially true in key areas such as embedded analytics where many of our peers are struggling to blend fact-based decision-making insights with traditional supply chain management.

A Sad Goodbye to Phoenix

I first attended this event in Phoenix in 2012 at the same location.  The event has grown tremendously over recent years and has become a victim of its own success.  Consequently, after many years in Phoenix, we now say good-bye and look forward to the new location in Orlando in May 2020.

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