Why Should You Help Us With Research?

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Our philosophy is, “You give to us. We give to You.” This is how our research process works. It is unique. We believe in Open Content. Unlike other analyst firms, we do not believe that research should be locked behind a firewall.

When you see us field a research study you will know three things:

  1. Confidence. Your responses are held in confidence. We only report the data in aggregate. We never share individual responses or company names.
  2. Gain New Insights. We share all of the research widely in our community, Beet Fusion, and on our website. However, if you fill out a survey response you will also get the opportunity to share the insights with a handpicked peer group. This allows you to gain new insights and build networking contacts.
  3. Help Advance Supply Chain Management. In all of our surveys we correlate the responses to financial results. We are trying to crack the code on what drives supply chain excellence. By filling out the survey, you help.

Currently we have two active research studies: One on the management of direct materials and sourcing and another on the evolution of enterprise cross-functional planning. We would love your help. We hope to have you join us in the roundtable discussion.

2016: A New Year and a New Beginning

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Supply Chain Insights is now four years old. The company was created in February 2012. At our core we are actively trying to redefine the analyst model to be friendlier, more insightful, and complete for the supply chain leader. We endorse the concepts of open content, and share research as we build it through newsletters, a global community, our annual event and social media. At a principle level we believe that when people give to us that we should give to them. So as we celebrate our fourth anniversary and start our fifth year in operation, please do us a favor and share all of our content widely. Help us to make manufacturers, distributors, and retailers more effective.

Figure 1. The Focus of Supply Chain Insights

Supply Chain Insights by the Numbers - 2012 thru 2015

As we prepare for 2016 we also want to be known as the company that connects leaders to leaders for meaningful interaction. In 2016, in addition to our 2016 Global Summit, we are hosting a series of sessions to help define the “Network of Networks.” These sessions will be facilitated, small group meetings between business leaders and technologists. Our goal? We want to see if we can drive breakthrough innovation to improve network interoperability and accelerate the development of business networks.

The team also takes the need to build supply chain talent seriously. Our books and communities are targeted at global team building. At the end of 2016 we will begin to sell our commercial game, Supply Chain IMPACT! The game is targeted for use in academic and business strategy sessions to help companies better understand and define outside-in processes. This simulation game, along will the online training that we are building, are aimed to help build the next generation of supply chain leader.

Four years of leading a small company, while defining a new business model, has taken a lot of work. It has been stressful at times, but I give thanks for all of the supply chain leaders who have helped us be successful. It is my goal to use this four years as the foundation for the next five. We want to be known as the team that helped leaders transform their supply chains. Our goal is to build new insights to help you unleash new value.

A Personal Invitation

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Today, I am excited to announce the launch of a community to help the supply chain professional. The community is open, available for all to share content, and engage in two-way dialogue in a meaningful way. Over the last six months we have pre-populated content—videos, podcasts, infographics, maturity models, and research studies—to spark impactful conversations. The community is currently in Open Beta. What does this mean? We are refining the workflows and functionality of this community, and we need your help to kick the tires and take it to the next level. We believe it is time to open the doors and let you join us in creating this unique experience for global supply chain leaders. This is your personal invitation to the party that is getting started. 

 
The name of the community is Beet Fusion. Our goal is for the Beet Fusion community to be “Superfood for the Supply Chain.” It is our belief that just as athletes need specific foods and nutrients to power their bodies to achieve their best performance, so does a supply chain organization. To meet that goal we have designed a unique user experience that combines dialogue, discussion groups, news feeds, rating and review capabilities, and maturity model assessments. If you’re a line-of-business leader, you’ll benefit from participating in conversations with peers, saving content that is meaningful for you (termed Beetmarking), assessing supply chain maturity, and staying up-to-date on the supply chain market. If you’re a student or young professional, you will be able to get up to speed on supply chain content fast! As a technology or services provider, the community will allow you to have direct dialogue with technology users. If you’re looking for a job, you can find a role which will inspire you, and if you’re looking for a new employee to join your team, you’ll find candidates who will impress you. Anyway you choose to engage, you’ll get access to cutting-edge content, expert advice and a platform to drive new insights. 
 
By design, the community is non-commercial. There is no cost to join and the community will never be used for advertising or solicitation. Additional community guidelines are found in the Terms & Conditions, and the Code of Conduct sections of the site. 
 
As we have worked on the community over the past two years, one of our design principles is that this community is not designed for us; instead, it is designed for you. It is our hope that you will join us in sharing meaningful content and sparking the discussions that matter. 
 
Getting started is easy. Visit www.Beetfusion.com and create an account. Once approved, you’ll be able to post, comment, query, and review supply chain information from around the globe. We are getting the party started, and expect to roll out the final community at the beginning of 2016. We’re looking forward to having you join us. Sign up now and be part of the future of supply chain. 
 
If you have questions about the community, getting started, or comments to share, we’d love to hear from you. Send them to Alison Crawford, our Community Manager, and she’ll help you with the process.
 
I look forward to seeing you in the community! Let’s get the party started. 
All the best!
lora signature
Lora Cecere
Founder of Supply Chain Insights
Lora Cecere Press Photo 1 3

 

Driving Research Excellence

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Pumpkin lattes. Colored leaves lining the streets. Frost on the car windows in the morning. No doubt about it, fall is here. I love the crisp air and blue skies of fall. For me, the fall season is a good time to reflect and start new things.  The rhythm of starting new things in September started for me in my school days. I was always excited when it was time to go back to school. I am stimulated by learning. I love the smell of new books, writing with a new sharp pencil, and beginning to learn something new.

As I sit here with my coffee on this September morning,  I think back to my goal to build this company. Four years ago I was not sure. I was unclear if there was a market for a company focused on supply chain research. I am pleased to say that we are slowly finding our way. While many companies tag themselves as a research firm, we mean it. Research—qualitative, quantitative, and mining financial patterns—is in our DNA. It is our business model and mission.

We offer a different voice, and often a contrarian view. You will find what we do to be different than other sources. It is independent. We call it like we see it. In the words of one person last week, “It is honest. A refreshing breath of fresh air. Supply Chain Insights says what is known, but is not expressed openly. However, they not only say it, they prove it.”

I speak at over 50 conferences a year, where I am often introduced as a consultant. When this happens I smile and softly shake my head. I say, “I am not a consultant. I am a researcher.” People in the audience always look confused. So I laugh and remark, ”Some would call me a critic, a curmudgeon of sorts, or a fortune-teller trying to forecast the future. My focus is to drive insights. I want to understand how supply chain leaders can drive greater value for their corporations. Supply Chain Insights is a small bootstrapped startup focused on this goal. I manage a research team. While you can hire us for insights and advice, please remember that we are not consultants. We do not implement software or tell you of best practices. Instead, we help you understand the research of how to drive value.“  The group will politely nod their head, but I find most people do not understand the term “research.” It is an ongoing challenge. Research is overused term. There are many  studies in the market masquerading as research—funded by consulting firms and technology vendors—which are really marketing. There are other industry analyst firms who claim they do research, but when you ask what they mean by the term “research”  I find the distilled answer to be, “We are smart folks with opinions.”

Defining a new business model and launching a bootstrapped startup  is not for the faint of heart. Let me admit, it has been hard. In February, Supply Chain Insights will be four years old. In many ways it doesn’t seem possible. Time passed quickly. As can be seen by the statistics in Figure 1, the team of six has not been idle.  At the first of August, we had completed over 4,700 survey responses collected through over 58 quantitative studies and published 76 reports. Our research base continues to grow. We now have over 5,500 responses in 60 studies. Research is our mission. You give to us. We give to you. At Supply Chain Insights, we have consistently invested 20% of our revenues in building thought-leading research, and publishing Open Content research for the supply chain leader.

Figure 1. Supply Chain Insights by the Numbers

Supply Chain Insights by the Numbers after 3.5 Years

Where are we headed? Over the course of the next six months, we will be mining this body of research to better understand cross-study industry trends and insights on supply chain excellence. We will share all of this research openly through our websites and blogs. As we mine the data, you will see infographics, reports and webinars. We want to use it to be the centerpiece of a new discussion for supply chain leaders. To that end, in the middle of October, we will launch our new community, Beet Fusion.  Now in Closed Beta, we are excited about the new community.

Why a community? We tried a community in 2013 when we launched the company. The effort failed. While the goal was right, we launched on the wrong software before having a sufficient library of content to get it started. Stubbing a toe, or two, is part of a scrappy startup. We try to learn from our mistakes. Failure is the genesis of inspiration. It is now time to do it again. We remain steadfast on Open Content sharing and want everyone to share the research. However, we think that sharing is not sufficient. We think that it takes dialogue. This is our goal. We want to drive two-way discussions on important topics. Our goal is to change thinking and to help leaders improve value in their corporations. The community will not be used for advertisements. It is an open community allowing anyone around the world to post openly and freely with no cost. There are three rules of order—no profanity, obscenity, or in your face marketing. We hope to see you there! Look for the launch in October. It is a time for a new beginning. Help us in launching  the new supply chain community.

Is the Creative Class Coming to a City Near You?

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There’s an old song lyric “wherever I lay my hat that’s my home” (…attribution to Marvin Gaye).  Aside from a short stint living in Europe, I’ve always lived in Boston, MA.  First it was because my friends and family all lived here.  As I got older, and progressed in my career, I stayed in Boston because of different reasons. There was excitement in the air: creative work in the city with smart people doing great things. However, even with all this opportunity sometimes I’ve felt like I was trapped.  Where else could I go to do what I do?  I made a list and wrote Seattle, San Francisco, and Austin.  Then I thought, dang!  There goes my dream of living on a beach and being an executive.

Turns out, I was on to something.  As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I’m a big fan of looking forward, and a bigger fan of solving problems.  According to Dr. Richard Florida, one of our keynote speakers at the Supply Chain Insights Global Summit, my description fits about 30% of us in the workforce. We tend to gravitate towards certain cities on Earth.  Why on Earth (pun intended) do we go to specific cities?  Well, it turns out we’re part of the “Creative Class.” We like being around each other and working together to help move society forward.  Ok, it sounds logical.  If you are scratching your head, and wondering what in the #%*&@#@ is the “Creative Class”? Please read on.

It’s a subsection of knowledge workers within the workforce broken down into two groups: the Creative Professionals and the Super Creative Core. I’m going to start quoting from Dr. Florida’s work here. The Creative Professionals are the classic knowledge-based workers. This group mainly includes people working in healthcare, business and finance, the legal sector, and education. They “draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems” using higher degrees of education to do so.  Then there’s the “Super Creative Core” which is about 12% of all the jobs in the US across science, engineering, education, computer programming, research and a smattering of arts, design and media workers thrown in for good measure.  These people fully engage in the creative process, making innovative commercial products and consumer goods.  Their primary job function is to be creative and innovative, and “along with problem solving, their work may entail problem finding.”  (I’m sure these individuals are super popular at parties.)  In short, their job is to move their product, company and/or the economy forward by creating something new.

So, if you are still scratching your head wondering what does this have to do with supply chain and why would Supply Chain Insights feature Richard Florida to speak at the Supply Chain Insights Global Summit, let me continue. We believe that this redefines supply chains in the Race for Supply Chain 2020. This is more than just birds of a feather flocking together in a few places on the planet (Silicon Valley, Boston’s Route 128, The Triangle in North Carolina, Austin, Seattle, Bangalore, Dublin and Sweden to name a few) and having an impact. It is about commerce and a return to cities. Mega cities are emerging. This trend is a major driver of economic growth, both local and global.

As you reflect, think back. It’s a historical fact that people moved away from the agrarian lifestyle to the cities because there was innovation and a better way of life.  Now, the most creative in our society are moving away from the cities to innovation hubs and creating a “new” new way of life.   I can’t tell if it’s a chicken or an egg situation, where companies recruit all the brilliant creators to come live and work in an innovation hub and ultimately impact the economy, or that companies come to areas where creative folks area already living and set up shop.  Either way, the trend is real and it’s impacting the global economy. Cities with creative knowledge workers will redefine transportation, commerce, and social systems. Demand becomes more volatile, and mega-cities the new norm.

The design of mega cities is a challenge. According to Dr. Florida, thirty percent of the population is forecasted to be in a few cities. It’s going to be crowded; and if Dr. Florida is right, it will transform supply chains forever!

There is also a need to rethink talent, recruitment and work environments. Perhaps, if companies start shifting their policies now to attract the creative class workers, new innovation hubs will emerge and the economic impact will be wide spread throughout not just the States, but the rest of the developed world.  Dr. Florida will share insights on the future work systems.  I encourage you to attend this Summit to understand what companies need to adopt to attract highly intelligent employees that resist the traditional 9-5, want to wear yoga pants to work (because they don’t like suits and ties), and rethink work systems to give them enough independence to steer their own course … yet still get the job done.  It’s a major leap and cultural shift for many firms, but if they can turn the corner there’s nothing but upside.

 

cartoon-creative-class

 

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it.   We’ve got the economist that identified this trend keynoting at our conference in September.  You can hear what this means to you straight from Dr. Richard Florida’s mouth. And you can start to prepare your organization for this new economic shift that embraces the out of the box thinkers to move the economy forward.  As for me, I’ll have a seat in the front row of this limited seating event and I will start researching apartments in Stockholm and Dublin so I can bring a little of the Boston 128 creative class flare to the rest of the world.

Cartoon sourced from the Roanoke Times.    (Weblink http://ww2.roanoke.com/editorials/images/0719_creatives_750x560.gif)

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