Design Con 2015
This dialogue occurred on Thursday, February 20, at 4:30 p.m. EST.

The reality of the global supply chain demands always-on data access. Increasingly, leading-edge organizations are working to add mobile apps to manage the supply chain. We've invited Tyler Ziemann, head of growth at mobile supply chain software vendor Elementum, and Tom Linton, chief procurement officer at contract manufacturer Flextronics, to talk about the benefits and realities of building a real-time mobile supply chain.
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@BillK, thanks for dropping by! It certainly is a new era for speed of business. Supply chain is scampering to keep up.

User Rank   Blogger

Sorry I missed the live conversation but some really good thoughts.  Having been around awhile just in the last 20 years the ability to be truly mobile just based on connectivity and devices has been huge.  For instance 20 years ago a Buyer from the states visiting a supplier in Shenzhen meant they basically lost all productivity realted to anything else for a week.  Therefore you would only go once a year.  Now you can go and basically keep everythnig going.  However, being able to go to a Starbuks anywhere in the world to connect to seperate systems and information silos still is not optimum or really time.  It is great that the speed of development for a single platform, information source agnostic mobile optimized platforms is moving faster.  

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@all Thanks for a great conversation. Would be happy to join again soon.

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Thanks all and Bye for now!

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I hope you'll both join us again sometime.

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Thanks to you both! And, Tome, that last comment is positively tweetable.I may just go do that now. :)

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Thank you all!

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I think the key questions supply chain mangers need to ask themselves are 1) How safe is your supply chain? 2) how fast is your supply chain? 3) how cost effective is your supply chain.  All of these point to tools that are less costly, faster and de risk their business.

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@Tom, it's true... the newest generation is all about on-the-go and where they are.

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Tyler, Tom, any last summing up thoughts you'd like to offer? We'll be glad to give you the final word.

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I guess it's time to draw the conversatoin to a close, but thank you Tom and Tyler, for your thoughts. This will remain for others to read so feel free to share the links with friends and colleagues.I know some of our folks on other continents will stop by later.  And thanks to the community for some great questions!

User Rank   Blogger

The next generation is already there... mobile tools are what they are using, will use and it will change the face of supply chain.

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I'd like to point folks to our recent Velocity e-mag on the topic of supply chain security, It's only going to get more critical, whether the platform is traditional or mobile: http://dc.ubm-us.com/i/207639

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TM :-)

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@Tom, i see a lot of new supply chain programs opening at universities. It will be interesting to see what the next crop of supply chain pros bring to the table. That's a whole other coversation though!

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@tech4people regarding earlier security questions. Today supply chain data isn't secure. Most supply chains are managed in spreadsheets and sent via email attachment. This can go to anyone / anywhere.

We have built our service using standards in cloud security and reliability so that all requests to the server/database go through a single point of entry that provides only data to authenticated users and looks at your role, org, enterprise, etc. for what you are entitled to see.

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Decision as a service...I like that. :)

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Hailey,  I think supply chain managers need to turn on their high beams as we drive supply chains faster. Mobile gives me that option.

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@tziemann, that seems like a great approach that would net applications that focus on granular problems that apply to specific businesses. Do you think that the market will regulate quality and capabilty on these apps? Or will you be working on vetting these apps in some way?

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Hailey, honestly a mobile app solution is MUCH cheaper than any other route to get the same results.  Its a no brainer for me since I am using the existing data layer that exists in the supply chain and extracting what I need to know to make better decisions. Its a decision as a service vs. just a software as a service.

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@Hailey. Each of our apps is "bite-sized" and focused on a specific business user and problem statement (or workflow). There are probably going to be apps for every person/role in supply chain. Our aim is not to build all of them. Very soon, we will be opening up our platform and APIs to 3rd party developers and ISVs to build their own supply chain apps a la Force.com.

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@Tom, very true... i think organizations often udnerestimate the richness of thier data. Do you think awareness around teh potential of better visibility or is there education yet to be done?

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@Tom, any advice for supply chain managers who want to sell the idea of a real-time mobile supply chain to management? What would be the right way to get the support needed?

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Lastly, the world is moving to real-time. As I said before, the heads of supply chain are looking over their shoulders at the heads of sales, hr, and marketing, and wondering why they don't have the same access to information.

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Everyone has a supply chain. When I was in Semiconductor companies and OEM companies they all have a data rich supply chain. Everyone has multiple tiers and everyone benefits from better visibility.  Not just an EMS concern.

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It may be too soon to ask, but what's the next frontier for mobile supply chain apps? What are customers asking for that you want to do next?

 

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There is also the continuing trend of cost reduction. Today, there is a significant back office staff needed to provide the data and information needs of the supply chain. We help reduce that spend.

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I'm not suprised that's a top driver. Sustainability and risk are key aspects to busienss success today for the reasons you have mentioned.

User Rank   Blogger

It used to be just make it cheap in China, now you have manufacturing coming back to the US, moving to manufacturing centers like Brazil, etc. This is too complex to manage in a spreadsheet.

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@Hailey hi-tech is acutely aware of trends in technology and increasing velocity of supply chain; otherwise, it really depends where the pain has been recently felt. For many, it is the new emergence of global warming, global disasters, etc. that are causing more pain to supply chain companies because they are so distributed now.

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Interest from EMS seems logical. They are sitting in the middle of a very complex system.

User Rank   Blogger

I see we are at the 40 minute mark, please feel free to share last minute thoughts and questions before we wrap up.

User Rank   Blogger

@Hailey we are also talking to the top distributors that sell into EMS 

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@tziemann, what is it about those industries that are driving early adoption?

 

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@Hailey We have seen interest from food and beverage, component suppliers within automotive, mostly medical device companies, and high velocity consumer electronics.

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@Kim RFID is probably still too costly. I would bet more on QR code and mobile first (manual but cheap).

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Are there particular sectors of the electronics market that are ripe for this type of app? Is it centered in a particular vertical among those  you mentioned or is this a trend that is coming across the board?

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RFID is helpful to capture the physical location of goods.  This feeds into the data layer of a company via an ERP.  Mobile reaches down and taps this data and pushes it up to a user.  In this case RFID is one node of information in a stream of data.

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More splintered in general and wearable devices less splintered in consumer devices as key ecosytems form around Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Lenovo.  There is a rapid emergence of electronics in Medical, Automotive, Energy and Industrial industries which is expanding the pervasiveness of internet connected devices.  This begs for a simple mobile solution to integrate all this data into more simple, fast and reliable user interfaces.

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Off-the-wall question, but are RFID readers being used extensively to monitor supply chain operations?

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Certainly in the consumer electronics space, product life cycles are getting shorter and shorter. Nobody has months, let alone years. :)

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Let's talk a little bit about the mobile supply chain landscape in general. Currently it's pretty splintered. Do you have any predictions about where this market will be in a year or five years? Do you see potential roadblocks?

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In addition, their product cycles are measured in months, not years. They can't spend millions and take years to install an Oracle, SAP, or RedPrairie for instance and then do all the integrations. They are on to the next product already and probably have a completely different supply base.

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@Hailey We are dealing with a lot of newer product companies as well that don't even have an ERP (or want one)... think of all these new product startups like Nest or Square.

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Glad to see that kind of a focus on UE, @tziemann. I think it is vital in any kind of metrics or data display, otherwise the end user gets lost or bored or both.

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Haily, no in our case. We run every possible supply chain software configuration possible (1000 customers in supply chain).  The value in mobile is it attaches to existing data bases without creating a new one. It is simple in that an implementation takes only days or weeks and its value is in its user interface just like was mentioned by Tyler in a "whats app" or other app interface.

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@Rodney Yes. We have a simple user interface that rolls up the data into a KPI for our Perspective app. For Exposure and Transport, we have a Twitter like interface that gives you information in a feed. We are leveraging and emulating the best of the consumer web and have a user experience team of more than 10 folks focused on making each of these apps easy-to-use and "lickable" for the end-user ;-)

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So what's invovled with an organization with an existing supply chain infrastructure in place? Most organizations have some supply chain software in place, even if it's not mobile. What's the path forward for them? Do they have to do a forklift upgrade?

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@Tziemann, it will be interesting to see how your pricing model is recieved.

User Rank   Blogger

A node in this case is a manufacturing site, or distribution center for example.

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In general, do you see pushing for that real-time mobile experience to be most useful for larger supply chains or is there benefit for smaller organizations as well? Is it affordable enough for these smaller folks?

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So, for example, for Perspective, which is supply chain visibility, we charge $1,000 per node per month.

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Thanks @tziemann. Do you aggregate all of those apps into a single dashboard? It seems that one could get lost in the data without a central source for accessing it.

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@hailey Our app pricing model is also new/novel. We have a "one price for all" transparent model that charges by "node" in your supply chain (it's posted on our website for all to see).

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As a supply chain manager an app interface is now what we have become use to and its much easier to have this data PUSHED to me than when I have to PULL it out of other media, data bases or ERP's.

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@Hailey With our early customers like Dyson, Flextronics, and Enphase Energy, we have been able to get an app up-and-running in 10-12 weeks.

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@Hailey @Rodney EX: being able to see units produced real-time by station or line in your factory on a mobile device. EX: being able to see real-time shipments and bottlenecks in your carrier network. EX: being able to see real-time events and how they impact your supply base. We have an app for each of these use cases.

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How complicated is it for an OEM to integrate this into their existing systems? How long does it generally take? And what's the pricing model being used?

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Our platform can understand different data and map that to the underlying supply chain models.

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We have a simple API/integration layer that allows us to connect to any external endpoint using any format. Today, we receive EDI, json, rosettaNet, and other file types, including even flat file or excel.

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Kim,  I like the flexibility of having the most important data pushed to me in an app so yes it does make me more productive and strategic.  It also makes me more predictive than reactive.  Real time  information is power - I think its time supply chains harnesses that power to drive a new level of performance.

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And Rodney's: For either guest, can you provide some examples of the most often used, or maybe even most useful, supply chain management activities/functions?

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Bringing JimC's question to the top so it doesnt' get lost: How does the data about your supply chain, particularly the many tiers of suppliers, get into these mobile apps, and how do they stay up-to-date?

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@Kim. Great question. One of our strategic partners is Flextronics. Our apps our pre-integrated with Flex systems so OEMs can get up-and-running in a matter of weeks. We also have pre-built integrations with other supply chain data sources like carriers, risk information, and other contract manufacturers.

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@Kim. We do all the hardwork on the background (like making Hadoop work for supply chain), but make it simple for the end user.

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@Tom, it sounds like you can be a lot more responsive. Do you find you can spend more time being strategic?

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How does the data about your supply chain get into these mobile apps, and how do you keep them up-to-date?

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@Hailey. We have an app based approach: Transport = shipments visibility; Perspective = health and monitoring; Exposure = risk management. All of these apps sit on the same cloud platform and access the same supply chain models and data. This allows each of them to "talk to each other" and get cross organizational visibility. Today's SCM "systems" go deep in one area like warehouse management, but don't then tell you how supply chain events and risk can effect your inventory because they don't connect (or do at great expense)

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For either guest, can you provide some examples of the most often used, or maybe even most useful, supply chain management activities/functions?

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If you could deliver the supply chain equivalent of a Salesforce or Workday, what would be the greatest benefit? Cost reduction? Mobile/anytime access? Simple efficiency and speed?

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Isn't a Hadoop platform somewhat big and unwieldy for supply chain management?

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@Kim, glad you could be here.

 

User Rank   Blogger

Well, I have it on my phone and it alerts me to changes in my supply chain.  I am immediate and real time and often head of the news.  Its an app that monitors supply chain security just like a security system in our home or office monitors when we are away.  I track my suppliers against risks. Risks in this case can come as supply disruptions,  quailty or simple impacts from geographic, weather, social, environmental or even political areas.

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Hi all.

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@JimC. Yes. I think the fact supply chain is messy (especially the data) and that every business does things differently, has been problematic. Now with new database technologies like flexible schema databases (NoSQL) and Big Data technologies like Hadoop, we're able to ingest both unstructured and structured data in a much more cost effective way.

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@tziemann, it's true that the supply chain has historically been very used to siloed and dedicated systems. Cloud technologies, the need to share information and more are breaking down those walls. Do you find that security concerns come along with that?

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@tziemann, what's your delivery model? is it modules? Do you find that organizations are choosing to start with one area or do something more across the board?

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@Hailey I think what's prevented supply chain to-date, is the fact the technology wasn't there to support the scale and flexibility needed.

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Glad to have you with us, Rodney!

 

User Rank   Blogger

@Tom, how have you found that that real-time ability has changed the way you do your job? What measurable benefits have you found?

User Rank   Blogger

@Hailey I think the key capabilities are real-time visibility into logistics, risk, manufacturing, and order collaboration. Each of these are apps in our system.

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Howdy folks.

User Rank   Blogger

Welcome Jim! Guacamole on your left...Pull up a chair.

 

User Rank   Blogger

Is it the complexity of the supply chain that is slowing things down? Supply chain is so big and complicated. How can you fit all this into a mobile application?

User Rank   Blogger

Tyler, great point about the difference between sales, HR and supply chain. Isn't part of the problem for supply chain simply in the way it is organized and the way it may vary from company to company (including the amount of activity that takes place outside the corporate walls)?

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The largest issue we face daily is managing the risks in our supply chains.  In this case its more the invisible than the visible.   Mobile collects supply chain data from the nodes in a supply chain exports it into the cloud and makes it immediately available to me as a supply chain manager.

User Rank   Stock Keeper

@Tziemann, that's very true. It seems like there are a variety of players, but certainly no one app or offering has emerged to take center stage. What do you think the key capabilities of such an offering would be? And what's kept supply chain folks behind the times?

User Rank   Blogger

What are the needs of the supply chain that particularly dovetails with a mobile platform? What are you hearing from OEMs about how they need to manage and be in touch with the supply chain?

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If you ask the head of sales in your company how they manage their sales force, they will say Salesforce.com. If you ask the HR, they will say Workday. Both are mobile optimized products that allow Sales and HR to manage on-the-go. 

The same can't be said for Supply chain today.

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@tziemann, that story has been burning up the wires, and I haven't seen one pundit call it a bad investment.

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Well, just yesterday we saw Facebook purchase a mobile messaging app company called WhatsApp for $16 Billion. The number of mobile users exceeds web and PC.

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Thanks Hailey!

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@Kalvin, Welcome! Feel free to jump into the fray with questions and comments. Glad you could be with us!

User Rank   Blogger

To get the ball rolling, perhaps we should start with the launch of Elementum. What makes this the right time for a new offering in Mobile Supply chain software?

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Hello everyone!

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Welcome Tyler and Tom! We are glad to have you with us. As you can see, people are lining up to talk about this topic!

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Tyler Ziemann from Elementum has arrived

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Tom Linton has arrived!

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Glad to have you with us, Rich... lurking or commenting!

 

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And always, please announce your arrival so we can give you a warm EBN welcome and offer you some virtual  guacamole. :)

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Questions, theories, ideas, real world experiences and even friendly rants are welcome here.

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This will be a fun, fast, and friendly conversation, so please do not hold back with your comments or questions.  There are no dumb questions and we value everyone's point of view.

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Second, if you have problems posting, we suggest trying a different browser.  IE9 is a popular choice, but sometimes find Firefox, Chrome, or Safari work better.

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We will be starting at 1:30 a.m. PST/4:30 p.m. EST sharp. First, though, there are two housekeeping notes:

First, please make a copy of your post before hitting the "post" button – just in case.  If the system "eats" one of your carefully crafted thoughts, please hit "Ctrl-Z" to recover it

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Welcome Jacob and Tech4People. Thanks for posting ahead of time... and be sure to come back and read the transcript!

 

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I hope I have become the speakers here[Both Tyler and Tom] enough Material to discuss ! LOL!

User Rank   Supply Network Guru

very interesting article on the iPhone and hacking

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/12/feeling-smug-that-your-iphone-cant-be-hacked-not-so-fast

User Rank   Supply Network Guru

Another question I had was there any preferred OS for these Apps? Android ? iOS? I doubt most companies will be building Cross-platform apps which can work equally well across various OS Platforms.

User Rank   Supply Network Guru

How extensive do companies in this Industry feel the need to use Effective crowd sourcing and Expert Sourcing Tools?

User Rank   Supply Network Guru

Here's a very interesting article I recently came across on Big Data Security

http://www.infoworld.com/d/application-development/trust-me-big-data-huge-security-risk-236684

This fits right in with the whole issue of Supply Chain Information .

User Rank   Supply Network Guru

at the same time what are the risks of outsourcing the whole process to a 3rd party operator? for instance does it result in more finger-pointing when things go very-very wrong?

User Rank   Supply Network Guru

We live in a world of Real-time And Continous Information-flow.Its very-very difficult in this situation for most(if not all companies) to keep up with Various changes,events that happen everyday.Does it make sense for most(except the largest companies) to outsource this Critical Supply Chain function today to experts?

User Rank   Supply Network Guru

In the sense is it well embedded into the whole process or is it something which is just bolted into the Supply Chain?

User Rank   Supply Network Guru

How does Customer Engagement fit in with this issue of managing a Real-time Mobile Supply Chain?

User Rank   Supply Network Guru
Hi everyone
User Rank   Supply Network Guru

Hi Folks! I would love to join this event just may not be able to make it cause its too Late in the day for Me...

Still had a couple of queries regarding this most fascinating topic.

User Rank   Supply Network Guru
EBN Dialogue / LIVE CHAT
EBN Dialogue enables you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Open to the entire EBN community of electronics supply chain experts, these conversations see ideas shared, comments made, and questions asked and answered in real time. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats. Stay tuned and join in!
Archived Dialogues
Live Chat 11/12: Examining the Cyberthreat to Supply Chains
The number of cyberattacks is on the rise and hackers are targeting the supply chain. Drew Smith, founder and CEO of InfoArmor, will be on hand to discuss the reality of today's threat landscape and what to do about it.
Live Chat 11/06: Enterprise Risks, Intellectual Property & Supply Chains
Enterprise risk management (ERM) frameworks can be useful to identify, assess, and manage intellectual property (IP) risks that arise in supply chain compliance. We'll look at real-world examples and strategies for mitigating those risks.

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