How LLamasoft Is Designing Success For Customers’ Supply Chains

Ann Arbor, Michigan-based supply chain design software business LLamasoft is considered one of the fastest growing technology companies in North America. The company was founded by Don Hicks and Toby Brzoznowski in the late 1990s, and offers a number of innovative solutions that help some of the world’s best-known brands make smarter, faster decisions about their supply chain operations.

Its flagship software, Supply Chain Guru, is used for optimizing and simulating supply chain network operations and modeling potential changes based on performance, costs and risks. Last year, LLamasoft released Supply Chain Guru X, the newest generation of its software, which enables companies to build living models of their end-to-end supply chains. Customers can easily visualize inefficiencies, optimize for significant improvements in cost, service and risk, and test hundreds of potential scenarios for continuous supply chain improvement and innovation. Also released was Demand Guru, a new solution that empowers companies to improve their supply chain design and strategic business initiatives by incorporating powerful causative demand modeling.

In 2012, LLamasoft raised $6 million in funding, led by MK Capital. Nike also became a strategic investment partner that year, taking a minority share in October. Jumping forward to 2015, LLamasoft had a big year – acquiring IBM’s LogicTools supply chain applications business, raising $50 million in Series B funding from Goldman Sachs to fund expansion and R&D, and acquiring South Africa-based Barloworld.

Several months ago, TPG Capital, the investment group behind companies like Uber, McAfee and Airbnb, invested over $200 million in LLamasoft after seeing great promise in the company and fully understanding the value its technology delivers to customers.

Today, LLamasoft counts among its 700 customers companies such as Michael Kors, Land O’ Lakes, Johnson & Johnson, and Wayfair. The company estimates that it signs 30 to 40 new clients per quarter. When I asked Brzoznowski if he could share some of LLamasoft’s customer success stories, he pointed out a few recent examples of customer use cases including Michael Kors, U.S. Silica, Hewlett-Packard and Johnson & Johnson.

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CPG Supply Chains are adapting to disruption, new research finds

0Online shopping, new digital technologies, and increasing channel fragmentation are intensifying the pressures on US consumer packaged goods (CPG) supply chains.

There are clear steps CPG companies must take in order to prepare, according to a new report authored by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and commissioned by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).

The report, ‘How CPG Supply Chains Are Preparing for Seismic Change’, highlights the top trends affecting CPG supply chains and the effect on CPG companies’ performance.

Among the issues addressed in the report: e-commerce sales growth, service-level performance, channel proliferation, network design, and cash management trends.

The report is based on the 2017 Supply Chain Benchmarking Study, a study of the US units of more than 30 leading CPG companies conducted jointly by BCG and GMA.

“It’s been a turbulent couple of years for the grocery industry, with major disruption and dislocation in the retail landscape,” commented Daniel Triot, senior director of the Trading Partner Alliance of GMA and the Food Marketing Institute.

“Despite the important performance gains in the supply chain in the past two years, CPG companies cannot be complacent. This report aims to provide guidance for CPG companies looking to harness new digital technologies and trends to support continued growth.”

Over the next two years, half the growth in North American grocery sales will come from e-commerce. But only 6% of CPG companies have a dedicated e-commerce supply chain team, and only 3% are able to fully track sales by channel.

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How Does Your Supply Chain Resilience Rank?

Hurricanes, earthquakes, terror and political upheaval all took a toll.

In addition, three emerging drivers of resilience have come to the forefront in recent years that are now included in the 2017 FM Global Resilience Index: the rate of urbanization, inherent cyber risk and supply chain visibility.

Resilience against events that could disrupt operations is a top priority for business executives seeking to minimize risk and maximize performance across their operations.

The ability of businesses to overcome disruptions throughout the world can make all the difference.

The FM Global Resilience Index is an annual ranking of 130 countries and territories according to their enterprise resilience to disruptive events.

Rankings are calculated as an equally weighted composite of 12 core drivers that affect the enterprise resilience of countries significantly and directly.

The historical data in this year’s index has been updated and calculated on this new basis for each of the last five years to enable valid historic comparison.

Here are the key results.

Switzerland occupies the top position in the 2017 FM Global Resilience Index. This reflects the fact that Switzerland is among the best in the world for its infrastructure and local suppliers, its political stability, control of corruption and economic productivity.

Luxembourg has risen gradually from eighth in 2013 to second in 2017, owing partly to its reduced reliance on oil for economic productivity. This reflects the continued growth in the importance of its services sector. Luxembourg enjoys a strong reputation for its financial sector, its network of service providers and its responsive, business-friendly regulations.

The country is well-placed to benefit from financial institutions that may be seeking a new home, post-Brexit, following the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.

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Transportation Predictions That Will Shake-Up the Supply Chain Industry In 2018

In the book, The Living Supply Chain, the authors argue that “Speeding up the supply chain is at the root of everything that is good: improved revenue, reduced working capital, higher profitability, and less obsolete inventory.

Conversely, slowing down the supply chain is at the root of everything that is bad: working capital write-offs, reduced profitability, and slowing revenues.”

To “speed” up the supply chain is to invest in change and change will come with the digital transformation of the supply chain, which is the major focus for executives in 2018.

Much change in the supply chain industry will be due to innovative technologies for digital transformations, along with the recent tax reforms (see below), and the still-current driver shortage/capacity crunch.

The digital transformation of the supply chain will change everything – for the better.

These are the innovative technologies that I predict companies must use to undergo this transformation within their supply chains:

  1. Cloud-based technology
  2. Advanced Analytics
  3. Tracking and Tracing
  4. Supply Chain Visibility
  5. Blockchain
  6. Artificial Intelligence
  7. Predictive Analytics
  8. The Internet of Things

“In 2018, shippers must embrace change in order to succeed. Waiting and seeing what will happen is no longer an option,” adds Clark.

“Transportation management systems are poised as the fundamental tool for supply chain transformation, helping businesses to position themselves above the competition with sustainable profits and better service levels.”

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Supply chain – predictions for 2018 trends

When Elon Musk recently announced that Tesla would start building electric semi-trucks that would have 500-mile range and come with a version of Tesla’s Autopilot driving aid, the world realized it wasn’t a matter of if, but when these new trucks would be hitting the highways. After all, this is the same guy who said he was sick of sitting in traffic and launched the Boring Company, which is now tunneling beneath the gridlocked freeways of Los Angeles. And let’s not forget Musk’s SpaceX, the Hyperloop and Tesla – all radically different companies predicated on technology innovation, creativity, disruption and long term commercial viability.

The pace of innovation is picking up steam at an exponential rate. With advanced hardware, software and connectivity becoming accessible and cost effective on a global scale, we’re experiencing an innovation shift from desiring “better gadgets” to discovering entire new business categories built around technology. The implications for consumers is exhilarating and at times terrifying. The implications for businesses is terrifying and at times exhilarating.

Technology has become fully embedded in supply chain management – just go to any supply chain conference and you will find agendas dominated by tech talk. Robots, self-driving vehicles, electric trucks, blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), and new mobile-enabled categories are all poised to explode onto the scene in one form or another. It’s hard to predict what’s real and what will fade away, but expect 2018 to become a year of heavy innovation for supply chain leaders, even if it’s experimental. But…

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Supply Chains in Advanced Markets Should Become More Agile, Says Atradius

Atradius, a consultancy specializing in trade credit insurance, surety and debt collections, maintains that the global economy has continued to gain momentum over the past months, with a 3.1% expansion projected for this year.

Higher inflation, falling unemployment, and strengthening Purchasing Manager Indices (PMIs) all suggest higher GDP growth in advanced markets.

Atradius analysts observe that the U.S. economy leads this trend while the recovery in the eurozone becomes increasingly entrenched. The outlook for emerging markets is also brighter, as Brazil and Russia are emerging from recession, and access to finance remains favorable. While the global economic outlook is more robust than in previous years, political uncertainty remains a downside risk to stability.

However, the main challenges to the global outlook – the threat of deflation, negative bond yields, austerity, and low commodity prices – are slowly phasing out.

Global trade is supporting this recovery. After a 1.3% expansion in 2016, trade growth (12-month rolling average, y-o-y) has picked up to 3.3% as of July 2017. The stronger-than-expected expansion is being driven by intra-regional trade flows in Asia and strong import demand from North America.

Despite political uncertainty, most high-frequency indicators point to sustained growth: the global composite PMI posted held steady at 54 in September, pointing to a solid and stable rate of expansion. This has motivated some dramatic upward revisions of trade growth forecasts in 2017. The WTO raised its 2017 forecast for merchandise trade growth to 3.6% from 2.4%.

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Microsoft Reinvents its Supply Chain by Leveraging SAP Ariba & Intrigo Systems

Microsoft Corp. has one of the most complex supply chains in the world.

And to keep it humming and ensure supply keeps up with demand for its hottest products, the company is reinventing its supply chain.

In a newly released Webcast (watch the video above), the company discusses how it is teaming with SAP Ariba and Intrigo Systems to create a scalable, modern platform to support the efficient, cost-effective manufacturing of its most popular products, including the Xbox and Surface.

“At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. And our strategy to achieve this is to build best-in-class systems and platforms and productivity systems,” said Ali Khaki, Principal PM, Supply Chain Engineering, Microsoft.

“When we looked at our supply chain, it was clear we needed to build a flexible, scalable platform that could support the complexity of our hardware business.”

And it is using SAP Ariba solutions for direct spend to do it.

“The Ariba® Network is the backbone for Xbox and Surface line of products supply chain,” Khaki said.

Through the Ariba Network and the cloud-based applications delivered on it – including SAP Ariba Supply Chain Collaboration™, Microsoft has created a modern platform from which it can safely and easily collaborate with multiple tiers of contract manufacturers and suppliers across key supply chain planning and execution processes, including:

  1. Sharing production forecasts, orders, quality, and inventory information.
  2. Anticipating and resolving supply assurance problems.
  3. Onboarding suppliers.

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Real-Time Supply Chain Visibility & Connectivity

Through the rich integration of experienced supply chain professionals, world class technology, and customer insights, C.H. Robinson is reinventing global supply chains by making them more prescriptive, automated and efficient.

Navisphere Vision continues to advance the powerful and proven capabilities of C.H. Robinson’s proprietary Navisphere technology platform.

Microsoft, an innovator in fulfillment and logistics capabilities and a customer of C.H. Robinson’s TMC division, has been using Navisphere Vision since its alpha release in 2016.

“Navisphere Vision helps us understand the things that we couldn’t before. It provides the visualization that connects data and the real-time events that are happening within our supply chain,” said Alaina Hawkins, senior manager of global logistics at Microsoft.

“Navisphere Vision helps us make decisions on a more precise, real-time level so we can address any challenges that might occur, react in a less randomized fashion, create predictability throughout our supply chain, and increase collaboration so we can deliver our products to customers on time. It’s tremendously powerful.”

In addition to providing real-time visibility down to an SKU level, Navisphere Vision delivers insights and impacts of potential disruptions from weather, traffic or current events, as well as predictive analytics to help shippers make better, faster decisions.

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Google and Wal-Mart team up to combat Amazon in retail supply chain shake-up

Google has teamed up with Wal-Mart in its biggest even retail partnership to challenge Amazon in the online shopping marketplace and combat the proliferation of its Alexa-powered Echo device as a means of facilitating voice shopping.

The move is expected to have a significant impact on the retail supply chain within the United States as well offering customers a whole new way of purchasing goods.

As Forbes analyst Kevin O’Marah puts it: “It signals an acceleration in the shift from store-based retail supply chains to a hyper-personalised, smart consumer supply chain.

“The dynamics of this new supply chain will be brutal for consumer brands accustomed to shelf-centric demand.”

The new partnership marks the first time that world’s largest retailer is offering products outwith its own website in the US. It announced this week that it’s going to offer a huge array of items through Google’s online shopping platform, Google Express, and eventually through its virtual assistant, Google Home.

Wal-Mart is hoping that it can integrate its large network of stores with its digital business thanks to the new partnership.

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Top tips to build a robust supply chain

All businesses need to ensure its goods and services are procured at the lowest cost and meet the company’s needs in terms of timely delivery, quantity, quality, and location.

This is essential in not only providing the best customer experience, but also in ensuring you stay on top of your competitors, as consistency in the supply chain is key. However, the supply chain management world is constantly evolving and it is key to keep pace with both market expectations as well as opportunities.

Choosing and procuring the right technology is just the beginning of the variety of challenges that are present when managing and securing an IT supply chain. Organisations need to ensure effective asset management configuration and deployment are continuing to take shape, while maintaining technology standards and continuity of supply.

Here are some top tips in managing and creating a robust and effective supply chain, with experience and advice from the largest FTSE listed British IT service provider with over a 30-year heritage in IT and information enablement.

Be clear on expectation and deliverables

Many organisations will issue identical performance indicators and market assessment techniques on all engagements they have, irrespective of the technology being purchased or outcome desired by the business.

This is a detrimental approach as nuances and subject matter expertise are unable to be imparted by the partner that could potentially save money, time or actually mitigate risk.

Truly assess each engagement and accurately as well as realistically assess the desired outcomes/output that you wish to achieve, in comparison to work loads and true capabilities of workforces and systems.

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