I interviewed Alfred den Besten who discussed Customer Centric Supply Chain For a More Agile Supply Chain.







Can you provide a brief background of yourself?


I have been working in IT marketing for almost 30 years now. And the last ten years, I've worked a lot of years in supply chain optimization and Advanced Planning and Scheduling. One of the biggest achievements, I think, is doing the marketing for a software vendor, making them from good to great.


What is a customer-centric supply chain?


A customer-centric supply chain, in my opinion is a supply chain where you can directly interact in your supply chain with your customers in the sense that your customers always are the priority of one in your total supply chain. The customer is receiving it, not the delivering but the receiving model.


How does this help you have a more agile supply chain?


To achieve that, to be really customer-centric, you need to be agile, because you need to be able to change your supply chain and change supply chain any time customer demands are changing, but also, for example, in the case like, let's say a big automotive company has a problem with their airbags. And they need to take a million cars back. It has a huge amount in the supply chain. What normally happens is that you send out a letter to your resellers. They send out a letter to the customers. That already takes a month. And the next phase is you probably get a call or you can make your own bookings within the next three months to replace your airbag, which is a totally non-customer-center thing. It is we have a problem, we need to fix it, and you need to help us.


In a more customer-centric supply chain, you can develop, change it, and your supply chain is in direct contact with your customer relationship departments your supply chain.


And any customer can say, where can I go within in a 20-mile radius? And the whole supply chain will interact and says, "Okay. Within a 20-mile radius, you can get to Milwaukee. Can you make it?"


The supply chain immediately docks the operation, and you have a continuous interaction with your customers, interact which your customers and to continuously innovate and improve the supply chain.


Can you share with us a little bit of how it's done?


It's still very hard to be done because the first step is what are you using for your supply chain solution. Because the big question is if you have supply chain solution which is kind of built over your organization, it means that you have demand planning, which is explaining you have different supply chain environments. And it's very hard to do that, because then you basically drive your supply chains based on simple optimization and try to do one scenario over dynamic environments. It's kind of impossible, especially when it needs to be on a real-time basis.


So the first thing is to look at your whole supply chain at how really agile is it. Is it really [inaudible 00:04:12] scenarios, one environment? It's very [inaudible 00:04:15]...


Ten you need to interact your customer environment, which is normally in a CRM system or something. It might be an only channel environment, and so you connect your [00:04:34]  channel environment directly doing supply chain. And basically it might even be that directly from that environment, customers can [inaudible 00:04:43] so you can confuse change with scenarios based on custom [inaudible 00:04:50] instantly.


Something that we might reach in a couple of years. I don't think there's really a company who has [inaudible 00:04:59].


That's interesting. Thanks for sharing. Do you have any other recommendation?


The most important recommendation is that companies who are not aware of the fact that you need to be in constant feedback environment with your customers, and that your supply chain strategy and your customer interaction strategy should be one strategy. If you don't have understand it, you have a lot of homework to do.


Thank you for sharing today.


Okay.You're welcome.


...is this. They are all impatient. So if your supply chain cannot handle impatience, you have an issue. And the other thing is, if they are not satisfied, the [inaudible 00:00:11] industry is that we like to share everything we don't like especially. So impatience and ultimate sharing, that's something about how the new industry will work.


So I'm impatient, and if I don't get what I want, I will share it, and it will hurt you. That's why you need a direct strategy combined on supply chain and customer actions. That why you need it.




About Alfred den Besten






Alfred den Besten


Marketing Director / CMO at Xebia Group B.V.



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