Hi Melissa, tell us about yourself and your background and how you got to the Supply chain management & digital transformation space?
Starting my career in procurement in 1994, it wasn’t until 2008, when cloud technology was still a trend, that I incorporated supply chain into my career journey. My path has allowed me to be on the front line before technology automation to experience the industry when it was uncomfortable with the word cloud. I have been fortunate to leading digital transformation initiatives with some amazing impacts and now I play a role in digital disruption across the supply chain. It is constantly changing and that was keeps me engaged and why I am still doing this after 27 years.
Online commerce was booming in 2020; how did it affect brands’ adoption of Artificial Intelligence? – What should be the focus for brands this year?
That is a good question. AI is everywhere, from combining neural networks and AI in supply chain analytics for more informed decisions; to automated chatbots; to improving the shopping (brand) experience through a deeper understanding of personalized marketing to customer closer to a point in time when they want to buy.
Brands are continuing to explore new and creative ways to bring more value to their dollars. For 2021, Brands should focus on small to mid-size companies who have flexibility to innovate without limitations, These companies are not only disrupting but truly ‘interrupting’ our definition of what will be standard for tomorrow. For example, a company called EyeMail, has a patent-pending technology for video-in-email and video-in-text, delivering a 60-second video in your email/text at 15K in size with no animated gifs or hyperlinks. When combined with AI, the capability to enhance customer experience could be something like what we have only seen in science fiction movies.
Melissa’s checklist for digital transformation
In your POV – What is the ultimate checklist for a good digital transformation strategy (in the supply chain vertical)?
Transformation is not just about automation or bringing more spend under management. It is a fundamental shift in the way you do business; to become more agile to a constant shifting with global market/consumer demands. This past year has made this more visible across all industries. A good checklist starts with what is the company willing to do to digital transform.
- Is your company ready to make this change, not only from a shift in mindset but also culture? Change Management and cultural considerations are quite often removed before the project kick-off. Change management is the key to user adoption and ultimately return on investment. Why would you skip that?
- Are you willing to step out the box to explore new technologies? Even the best cloud systems today do not automate 100%. Using bots to support the day-to-day tactical activities, does not reduce your headcount, but enables your team to focus on more value-added activities.
- Going the distance. After the corporate transformation journey is completed, are you ready to embrace long-lasting change, through supplier collaboration to truly transform the entire supply chain?
How much has the role of supply chain management in the social distancing era – what role digital transformation has in this crisis?
To some degree, everyone is digitally transforming. I read a recent study stating more people have engaged online through some form of digital interaction in the past 12 months than the last five (5) years combined. You know, I have a friend who didn’t know what door-dash was; now s/he is purchasing groceries online, comparing fees across all the delivery apps, and listens to a book club on clubhouse.
Digital transformation has indeed accelerated exponentially over the past 12 months and some industries that didn’t think it was worth the investment have changed their priorities as a result. Its role has bec0me much more important in 2020 and 2021-2022, we will see more budgeting dollars allocated for business and digital transformation.
What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?
Working virtually is not the same as working remote. Early on, I was overwhelmed with too much information, causing unnecessary distractions. I lost my social interactions and personal connections since there was no need for group runs to Starbucks coffee or random conversations in the lunchroom about the challenges of organic gardening.
Now I schedule 2-3 (30) minutes sessions a week with various friends, co-workers, etc. for virtual coffee where work is not a topic.
2020 was the year of webinars and online events, what was your favorite one?
My favorite online events have been those hosted by Procurement Foundry, a global online procurement & supply chain community. They have been able to keep it interested throughout the year by mixing up the methods of communication. To date, the most engaging have been the live streaming (AMA) Ask Me Anything and the plethora of clubhouse discussions.
It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future, how should Executives gear up to the changing times?
There are many things executives can gear up for changing times. That could be an article on its own. I will highlight just two:
- Not all executives have fully embraced the idea that things will not go back to exactly the way it was before. There are still those who truly believe when everyone has all their shots, work will resume as normal. This may be a bit unrealistic perspective.
- Understanding what an employee needs to be successful at their job will be extremely important. Every work from the home scenario is slightly different and adds an uncontrollable variable. Enabling options for the employee to select what will benefit them the most will provide the personalized support we all need.
Finally, what is your favorite CX metric?
I am extremely interested in sentiment analytics and believe we haven’t yet covered all the potential use cases.
However, I am most excited about the CX metrics we have not yet created. We are just starting to see companies explore different methods of quantifying CX and I am keen to see what will be released in 2021. As an example, BombBomb recently introduced a Relationship Score to gauge who is engaged vs disengaged with email campaigns. While it is still in the early stages, it has the potential for expanding it baseline use cases into something more.