I interviewed Aakash Deep who discussed Digital Supply Chain.
Can you provide a brief background of yourself?
Thank you, Dustin. Thanks for the opportunity to speak to you on digital supply chain. Before I start, I'll give you a background. I'm a supply chain professional through and through. The last 15 years, I've been working in supply chains across the globe. I started my career in India, working in the operations space for multi-nationals, managing their supplies chains, and then I shifted into consulting. And I've worked almost all—lots of supply chain except product life cycle and manufacturing. ButI've dabbled in procurement, planning, and fulfillment, and after sales strategy logistics, etc.
In the last two years, I have moved to Barcelona, and now I live in Spain, and I'm driving some supply chain initiatives from here. I'm happy to be here talking to you.
What is digital supply chain?
That's an interesting question, actually. Digital supply chain—what is digital supply chain? Lately, in all the digital word is quite used on issues, probably. And then we say digital supply chain... When somebody asks me this, I say there are different types of digital supply chains. One is where the supply chain is completely digital, and that's happening in the media, communications, and now, lately, in the education industry, where the products are digital, the sales is digital, and the delivery is digital. So, it's a complete digital supply chain happening in the digital world, which has been supported by all the big giants—Apple, Google, namely, and some others.
But for the physical supply chains, digital supply chain also has a big impact, and that is because of the technologies which have emerged in recent years. Analytics, robotic, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data—they are having huge impacts on supply chains.
Supply chain has been adopting technology over the times, but that's digitization. The processes were being reconnoitered into the digital space using technology. But now, you're seeing a lot of data being [inaudible 00:02:47] by supply chain because of that digitization. Huge amounts of data. Supply chains every year are generating almost to the tune of data which is in zettabytes. And it's projected to grow more and more with IOD and devices coming into play in the supply chains.
So, that creates a big shift from learning a physical supply chain to a technology-enabled supply chain and finally do a digital supply chain where a large ocean of your supply chain exists in the digital world. And it's basically your physical and your technology supply chain and information supply chain have to mirror each other. Now, you cannot say that they exist in separate streams. So, they mirror each other, and they come together, this fuse together, to create a digital supply chain where there's full [inaudible 00:03:48] visibility. The visibility gives you data, and using a lot of tools you create insights, intelligence from there that helps you to execute faster.
And the execution may not be always faster. Sometimes you have to slow down the speed as well. So, that is the second type of digital supply chain.
So, these are the supply chains, I would say. And for the major industries—for manufacturing industries, [inaudible 00:04:22] be used for product companies, those are the second type of digital supply chain is more and more important.
Can you talk more about why is the digital supply chain relevant now and how it's different from the regular technology adoption?
Yeah, so as I said earlier, over the years, supply chain moved from first there was a mainframe era and then an internet game, and then ERPs were implemented, and then best-of-class solutions from [inaudible 00:04:58], etc., were started to being implemented, to aid the supply chain managers for execution and planning and all.
But now, the supply chain manager is getting tons and tons of data. So, big data is becoming a huge problem for the supply chain manager. The global expansion—you have your manufacturing plants all over the world, getting the products to a different market and getting them and selling them and making them reach the shelves—it's a big challenge.
There's some statistics, for example, [inaudible 00:05:39] that reach US shores. By the they reach the board, 10 to 15% of them are already obsolete. So, imagine the impact which creates the value it's lost. The inventory lying in warehouses, and if it doesn't reach the customer, it's burning a hole in the pockets of the [inaudible 00:05:59].
However, now the technology is there, the data is there, which can be harnessed, which can be used to take insights, used to extract information and help the supply chain managers execute better—better and focus on more value tasks. More and more with the data infiltration and the technology infiltration, more and more you can automate the standard tasks to some somewhat of automatic decision-making in the supply chain where supply chain managers don't have to look at those tasks every day. And they can focus on value tasks. And they can help the supply chain tradition from a cost-centric organization and the auto-cost centric function in the corporate tool values centric, where they are driving more and more value.
So, because of that, the digital supply chain become more important. This is from an execution or an internal standpoint. But from an external standpoint, your customers are becoming digital. It's the tradition of the digital customers, which is coming more and more.
So, to manage them or to serve them, if your supply chains are not suited to serve your digital customers, then your set up for failure. Things like Apple and Amazon, they are generating innovation. They are creating things every day to serve those digital customers. And this puts the onus back on other giants to see how they can align themselves to the [inaudible 00:07:50] of the digital customers. So, that's why digital supply chain are becoming more and more important these days.
Digital supply chains can be used in many [inaudible 00:00:03], especially the companies and consumer goods and retail industries. They need digital supply chains to sell to their digital customers. They can also take advantage of digital supply chains to create supply chains of one customer, basically serving big clusters of digital customers that have similar taste and that can be made possible only by the use of digital technologies and successfully not only integrating but evolving with the supply chains.
So, digital supply chains are very much relevant today. In terms of where they have been a success, it's been in pockets. So, digital supply chains, as of now, are, as usual, evolving in silos, because that's how the supply chains have been in the past, but with the concepts like control towers or [inaudible 00:01:04] invisibility and [inaudible 00:01:10] analytics, which takes insights from big data across the different systems is actually helping merge and integrate the full supply chain scope, right from sourcing to servicing to the customers.
So, I would say that digital supply chains is the future. The scope is growing really tremendously, and it's also being caused by the [inaudible 00:01:35] factors, which is primarily the emergence of digital customers.
Thank you, Dustin. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
About Aakash Deep
Digital Supply Chain & Strategy Expert