What’s Next in Supply Chain Innovation?

September 7, 2023

Matt Davis (VP of Research at Zero100) joins Karl to discuss logistics tech and the latest industry innovations. They discuss how logistics technology accelerated logistics’ biggest ideas and the next innovation wave.

Zero100’s Matt Davis joins Flexe CEO Karl Siebrecht to discuss what’s next in supply chain innovation.

Details #

Matt Davis (VP of Research at Zero100) joins Karl to discuss logistics tech and the latest industry innovations. They discuss how logistics technology accelerated logistics’ biggest ideas and the next innovation wave. Also, hear current logistics trends from Flexe Director of Logistics Strategy, Jordan Lawrence and Flexe Director of Sourcing, Carmen Vazquez.

Some of the topics explored:

  • Where to start when tackling issues that may require new tech capabilities

  • The democratization of information, technology and analytics

  • And how humility leads to better innovation

“We’re right now at that next wave when innovation is going to come and companies do feel ready.” - Matt Davis VP of Research, Zero100

Logistics Leadership Podcast legal disclaimer

Episode Transcript #

Matt Davis 0:00

This is not a technologist innovation wave. This is an innovation wave for everybody who touches the business process.

Karl Siebrecht 0:07

I'm Karl Siebrecht.

Jordan Lawrence 0:08

I'm Jordan Lawrence.

Carmen Vasquez 0:09

I am Carmen Vasquez, and this is the logistic leadership podcast.

Karl Siebrecht 0:13

In our last episode, I spoke with Dilip Bhattacharjee from McKinsey, who talked about the increasing number of handoffs in today's supply chains. He calls this the atomization of supply chains. And he went on to talk further about how important it is to digitize those steps, those increased number of handoffs, because the supply chains are becoming more and more complex. So to continue this conversation and dig in a bit on what digitization really means, I think it's critical that we get a point of view from senior supply chain leaders, both in terms of the technologies themselves that provide this digitization, but also in terms of the implications on people and processes. So we have a great guest, who is going to join us to share thoughts about that. Jordan, it is great to have you join again.

Jordan Lawrence 1:17

Karl, great to be with you again, as always, and really looking forward to picking up the conversation on the digitization of supply chain.

Karl Siebrecht 1:24

And Carmen, welcome. It's great to have you join us as well,

Carmen Vasquez 1:28

Very excited to be part of this conversation and bring some points of view from our partner warehouses.

Karl Siebrecht 1:35

So our guest is Matt Davis. Matt is the VP of research at Zero100. Zero100 is a company focused on helping Supply Chain Leaders from many of the world's largest companies power growth and sustainability through digital supply chain transformation. So this is going to be a great conversation. Let's do that now. And we'll look forward to looping back with you, Carmen and you, Jordan in a few minutes. Matt, it is great to have you today.

Matt Davis 2:07

How you doing Karl?

Karl Siebrecht 2:09

If you wouldn't mind, could you give us a little bit of a background for what you've been up to for the past several years.

Matt Davis 2:15

So I guess I started my career in supply chain, kind of by happenstance, I was at Penn State when they call it business logistics. I worked at Dell for a while. And then joined Gartner as an analyst, which was a really great experience, and then moved over to a business called SCM world where we built a community for chief supply chain officers and CEOs. Sold that business to Gartner. And then went and worked at Amazon in their last mile for a few years, which was absolutely eye opening. And then came here to Zero100. And basically, we announced ourselves to the world in January of 2022. And since then, I've been working with the CSOs and COOs from some of the biggest global companies out there, right now who are all focused on one thing, which is how to digitize supply chain, so that they can grow their business be more resilient and help decarbonize the planet. So it's been quite a journey.

Karl Siebrecht 3:17

Can you just give us a sense of of compare and contrast, what logistics looked like when you started versus what it looks like today.

Matt Davis 3:26

So, my first job was with Dell. I ran something called the Red Ball Express, super sexy marketing supply chain - still needed to work on marketing, by the way. But basically what I did is we made computers in the US in Nashville, and Austin, and like a little site in Reno. And so at the end of the day, I would fill in an Excel spreadsheet that would like move a truck from one location to the other. So we had the parts available for the next day. And like that was my whole job. And it was all done in Excel and on the phone and I was constantly calling around different carriers. Then if I flash forward, you know, 20-whatever years, getting to watch the last mile team work. What's crazy is I was surrounded by technologists. And it was you know, it was all product managers, software development engineers, and like, people who knew core logistics for sure. But it was a it was a giant mathematics engineering sort of lean optimization question that was being asked every day. And I think like it demonstrates the shift in the profession around like what we're able to do in the last mile. At the time when I worked at Dell, even though I was in a spreadsheet and all this other stuff, is we were doing configure-to-order manufacturing. And so we were shipping products, you know - configure your own computer directly to someone's house - usually within four to seven days. And like that would still be amazing today. And so I think that kind of demonstrates that the technology is propelling things forward is embedding itself in logistics and operations. But I also would give credit to the supply chain profession as like, constantly innovating and adapting the business model to delight customers. And, yeah, it's really interesting to think one tech company from the other and, like some of the things that I think that, you know, Dell was doing at the time that companies would love to be able to do today. All of it like, you know the common thread actually was customer obsession. And maybe that's the takeaway is like, by obsessing over what your customers want, you'll land on the right supply chain model for them.

Karl Siebrecht 5:39

That's great. So it feels like technology innovation has accelerated in the past, you know, 5-10 years or so. Give us your sense of, is that true? Is that happening? And if so, what do you see with your customers is the main driver of that acceleration?

Matt Davis 5:58

I think back to we did a an analysis back in 2014, like with our previous business, and I ran a survey where I was asking about blockchain, and drones and AI and all sorts of different tech to get a level set on the landscape. And one of the questions I asked was about what we called Uberization in supply chain, so like sharing capacity, like in your logistics, infrastructure, warehousing, whatever. And I got a response from somebody pretty senior as a supply chain exec that said, "please remove me from all your contact lists. Anybody who's asking about Uber realization and supply chain doesn't know what they're talking about when it comes to supply chain." And so like, that's always been my barometer of how far has the industry moved? And I think, you know, coming back to this space, first of all, is I think supply chain leaders, like at all levels have just massively upgraded their knowledge on the topic. I think my experience is, nothing it's actually bull. It's, you know, it's worthwhile looking into and at least trying to figure out if there's an opportunity. And I think that it's an exciting time, because the data infrastructures within companies, the skills and the capabilities, and like the technology, and in particular AI has advanced to the place where it does feel like, we're right now at that next wave of when innovation is going to come and companies do feel ready. And there's real use cases that we can point to that are that are happening today. So, I feel excited and optimistic about the opportunity.

Karl Siebrecht 7:38

And in terms of the underlying drivers of an acceleration in technology innovation, is it more in your mind that the technologies have advanced to the point you used AI as an example, such that they're now more useful? Or is it that the underlying problems have evolved in have created more requirements for more advanced technology? Or is it some of each?

Matt Davis 8:05

Instead of an or I'm going to add an end, because I agree with your first two ones. And, that through COVID, and all of the incredibly brilliant things that these supply chain leaders have done for years, suddenly was at the forefront in the center of business decision making. And I think the C-suite saw a lot more of the opportunity when collaborating with supply chain. So as a result, my read on what happened is CEOs of these companies started telling the street a lot more about supply chain and started making commitments to scope 3 and setting goals. And so like, there's really no choice for today's chief supply chain officer other than to figure out how to reinvent. And then another and, is that like, our friends, and our families, and the people who run into us at airports now know about supply chain, and so they're holding businesses accountable on this as well. And so I think it's the confluence of all of that together, as technology has moved forward, the profession is more capable to move some of these forward. And like, you know, there's just no choice. It's the name of the game it's the survivor or don't, kind of situation. And I have to say, like, I think the thing that like I love seeing within companies the most is sort of a recognition that data underpins all of this innovation, and a concerted effort to build their own data lakes and data capabilities so that they're ready for the upcoming wave of AI instead of ignoring that. And I think to your question, is what comes with artificial intelligence, at least in what I'm being told and get to observe is sort of a democratization of the tech capability. So like, you can use generative AI to write code. Well, all of a sudden that makes it so much more accessible for everybody within supply chain. So I think all of that is kind of saying like, this is why it's the era of a very non-******, digital experience.

Karl Siebrecht 9:48

You've given us one already. Could you expand on the examples you see of here is digitization happening today. And here's an area where that's really getting traction, driving better results.

Matt Davis 10:19

I'll just give a couple of my favorites because it's such a big question. There's so much happening that I just have to pick some of the favorites. One space that's been very cool is around traceability, and in particular, around scope 3 and commitments and changing legislation around, can you prove like all the way down to the farm where you've sourced this raw input material? And what was interesting is like, three different use cases were all being described at once. One is blockchain traceability, and trying to use blockchain as basically a digital ledger across the entire supply network, and synchronize all this information from different companies in a very safe, transparent way. Another way was, I'm a big Law and Order and CSI fan. And so it felt like what I call document forensics, is like the ability to use robotic process automation to take the unstructured data, you might have a PO and an invoice, and actually turn that into a structured data table. So like, AI can come in and scrape all of these documents and say this field is the city location and put that into a table. And so to use that as a way to create the transparency through the supply chain, and then there's like, very cool and cutting edge, isotopic DNA testing where like with certain raw materials, you can actually trace through the DNA profile, the farming location of say that raw material and like, these are all really incredibly cool technology solutions. We don't know what the answer is yet. But the fact that supply chain was exploring them all together is is you know, fascinating. And then if you take that view, through supply, and then just flip it completely on its head, there's solutions right now in logistics and transportation around electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, which are going to have a big impact on decarbonization. There's really cool things happening with sensors. And so like either sensors embedded within the logistics, infrastructure, say on the truck to let like give you all sorts of visibility, and information, or even just like sensors that you kind of throw on to a pallet that can monitor the vibrations or the temperature and provide all of this information through the logistics network. I think that kind of stuff is cool, because it's going to have a direct impact on customers with the ability to like dynamically route materials around, be far more efficient in how companies get their material to the point of sale. And the great news is customers have a better experience, a faster experience, more availability. And because logistics is driving efficiency, it's better for the planet, because you spend less, "carbon" in the process. And so there's like hundreds of other use cases, but hopefully to the listener who's kind of thinking like, what is the supply chain, it's getting stuff out of the earth and into your hand. And there's like incredible amount of stuff that's happening between that process.

Karl Siebrecht 13:16

Right, that's great. I love the way you put that getting it out of the earth, into your hands, more efficiency, more speed, lower cost, and then layer on top, a smaller carbon footprint.

Matt Davis 13:29

We tried to simplify it perhaps even further to say it's customers cash and carbon. That's a pretty good summary of what what people are focused on.

Karl Siebrecht 13:37

I like that a lot, atually. Customers, cash and carbon and cash could be from cost savings, or could be from accelerating growth or gaining share on your, on your competitors out there. Can you talk a little bit about some of the main barriers that you see in companies adopting different digital technologies that are out there?

Matt Davis 14:00

Yeah, I've mentioned one already in the the idea of data and sort of like data standing in your way. It's, it's the unsexiest foe businesses ever fought. Now, I think the service providers, the technology, the solution providers in this space, are doing an amazing job of helping companies build this foundational data layer. And I think cloud unlocks a ton of opportunity to experiment and to pull your data into more of a safe location. But that definitely seems like one of the barriers.

Karl Siebrecht 14:32

There have been so many new technologies developed, new companies started over the past or the 10/15 years. Do you have any thoughts on where to get started if you're not a company that's already several years down the path here? Where do you start?

Matt Davis 14:49

We do very real world work with the companies that you're talking about in this exact space. And almost always it starts with wrestling something into a sandbox that you can at least have clarity of purpose. And then I think on the technology side as well as, as part of that getting it into a sandbox, if you will, is not to start and never start with the technology or the solution. What we're doing with several companies right now is, there was so much hype around generative AI the last two or three months, we are fielding a lot of questions about what is generative AI? What's the implication on supply chain, and we just kept coming back to hearing from our customers is like, the untapped opportunity on general AI itself is still so large, and it's so pervasive across different parts of my supply chain. If there was some way I could just see it at the macro level, like with some kind of a heat map, I could make much more strategic decisions about it. The sandbox, the benefit of that is I think you can just be a bit more strategic about, are we doubling down? Or are we investing that new? And in that case, it's a completely different strategy, especially around technology, because you might already have providers versus evaluating new ones. So I think having that clarity before you get into the whole decision making process is super important.

Karl Siebrecht 16:06

That really resonates. When you think about the companies, you know, who have been the best at this. Have done the best job of adopting...

Matt Davis 16:17

I already have an answer.

Karl Siebrecht 16:18

Yeah, digital technologies. What do you see is the best practices that they've deployed? What are the lessons learned?

Matt Davis 16:26

You ready for this? Because I like, fundamentally believe that humility, it's like incredible is to work with the absolute bleeding edge companies, which I have the very large honor to do very, very fortunate that they would trust us with their time. And I'm constantly amazed at how much they question where they currently are, really want to understand the lay of the land, are very open to use cases, no matter the industry or the company. Especially at the senior leader levels, they could walk around all day flexing their muscles. I've been able to track some companies who have absolutely stayed ahead of the others, and 100% of the time, it's led by a chief supply chain officer where he or she is absolutely being humble about where they are against the future, and open to learning across industry. And then I think the second thing, which this comes from a person we worked with, at Amazon, asked him how he managed his day because he built basically all of Amazon's supply chain. He's like, the first thing I do is I figure out what's going to get me fired. And I do that. The next thing I do is I figure out the things that are going to get me promoted and I do that. Like it was just a very, like, easy way to think about prioritization and like simplifying very senior decision making. And I think those two things is like, if you're driving a learning organization, you're curious, and you're humble, and you prioritize down to the right few things, you're gonna make progress.

Karl Siebrecht 18:01

I just love that. That was the first word out of your mouth is humility, bringing back to what we we touched on a few minutes ago. There's so much happening out there. We've heard this from customers, it seems like maybe everybody else understands something that I don't yet or that somebody's figured it all out. And I think the reality is that I can tell nobody's figured it all out. And the key is actually to sort of start from that place. We don't know all the answers. Let's have that humility. Let's have the curiosity. And then I'll take another one of your points here, focus in on the use cases, or business problems that we want to focus on first, and then figure out kind of create that sandbox, and then go learn from the best about what technologies could move the needle.

Matt Davis 18:46

I have to throw in one other thing that, you know, my time at Amazon taught me a bunch, especially about customer obsession, and how to make decisions. But like Amazon talks a lot about one-way doors and two-way doors. Two-way doors means like, Hey, you can open the door and it's okay, if you walk back out, you understand the risk, you've intentionally like, look to say these are all the things that could happen. A one-way door locks you into either a big financial or customer impacting decision that you really don't want to unwind and being able to look at it, those two ways. Tech decisions are very much the same way, like being able to understand pilot and experimentation as like a two-way door framework versus like, one-way doors that might impact your customer experience or that if you walk through you can't walk back on. And I think sometimes just pausing to sort of think through, is this is this in that framework, is probably a simple thing that people can do as well.

Karl Siebrecht 19:44

Want to follow up on one thing. You mentioned, you talked about the democratization of these technologies. Are you speaking to the fact that more companies have it available to them, or is it also that within the corporation these technologies are democratized across more and more teams throughout the corporation?

Matt Davis 20:08

Yeah, it's, it's a bit of both of those. And then like, specifically on generative AI, if you look at like the use of prompts, that's specifically what I mean about democratization of like analytics and access to the technologies, like with generative AI and like the interface changing, people who just like know how to write really good prompts are going to be able to do all sorts of different things like, you know, it could generate text, it could generate video, audio, code. That's what I mean about the democratization of information and analytics. I don't have to be like a super user anymore, or that like one person who if they left, your whole company fell apart. It's this interface that's changing. And I feel like that's gonna feel really different to a lot of people, including myself, who grew up with Excel spreadsheets and floppy disks.

Karl Siebrecht 20:56

Yes, I'm wholeheartedly aligned with you on this. I mean, I think about, and this goes back a little bit to the talent topic that we touched on. Smart, curious business, people who can dig into the sandbox that they're operating in and come up with great questions, can now ask those questions, getting pretty close to just natural language prompts, and start to get some pretty good answers back. There's a quote, and I believe it was Picasso, who said something like when asked about computers, and this was in the early 70s, you know, what do you think about computers? He says, well, they're okay, but all they can do is come up with the answers.

Matt Davis 21:38

That's the big shift is this is not a technologist innovation wave. This is an innovation wave for everybody who touches the business process.

Karl Siebrecht 21:47

That's great. And so well said, Well, Matt, this has been tons of fun, and super informative. Really appreciate your time here today. And again, have really enjoyed this conversation. So thank you very much.

Matt Davis 22:01

Yeah, no, I, I really want to thank you and the team from Flexe for, you know, having me on the call I love I really, really love that innovators and the tech and the solutions providers who are such an important part of this community, and innovation wave are doing exactly what you're doing, which is like, digging into it and trying to help everyone move forward. So my honor. It was just yeah, it was a real pleasure to be here.

Karl Siebrecht 22:29

Great conversation, Jordan, what jumped out at you?

Jordan Lawrence 22:32

Yeah, another great interview, all sorts of things come to mind. But I think I'll just have to start with what Matt did, which was tell a story about, they sent out some information several years back, and they were talking about the Uberization of supply chain. And he got a very visceral reaction from one of their email recipients. And the visceral reaction was kind of rejection of this idea of urbanization. And I think that is a very normal technology lifecycle. If something's completely brand new, it's because nobody has really thought about it. And you kind of go through this cycle of: first you say "no way," and then maybe you fight it, and then you accept it. But maybe on the credit to the person with a visceral reaction, I think sometimes the words themselves create challenges. Uberization is one of these things where, you know, maybe off hand your interpretation is, this means I'm going to share my supply chain assets with my competitors in this very ad hoc way. And so I think part of this is just the learning experience as a new technology comes out and understanding that we're talking about open networks, versus, hey, I'm just gonna jump in somebody's facility here or there. So you know, I think what's interesting is that uberization is one of these buzzwords that can be challenging, but digitization, another one that you guys talked about, is is another word that can be conflated or confused and create that kind of reaction.

Carmen Vasquez 23:59

I would love to add to this topic, because when I talk to partner operators about the the digitization and technology aspect of it, we had actually conflicts of ideas. So digitization and technology, very closely related concepts, but essentially, in the mind of an operator, definitely two different things.

Karl Siebrecht 24:21

You know, operators are, this is a generalization, but just great business people in the sense that there's a lot of pragmatism. You know, technology exists to serve the purpose of great business outcomes and great operational outcomes. And sometimes people in technology circles can get too excited about the technology itself and will lose sight of what is the what is the practical value here. Where's the business value? What is the operational value? And sometimes fancy words spark some of that skepticism. So I think it's really really well said and I'd love that Matt called that out in telling that story. And you know, more broadly, what also resonated with me was just his comment on the technology lifecycle. Where are we in this in this cycle, and we're still pretty early from my perspective. You know, I can remember, not long after we started Flexe, I was invited to be on a CSCMP panel. And it was the one panel in the entire conference that was the new innovations in technology panel. And most of the conference was about a lot of other important things. But technology was this sort of sideshow a little bit in terms of technology platforms that were just emerging at the time. And we've come a long way since then, you know, to that point, Jordan, he talked a bit about visibility and traceability. I saw you reacting to that. Share your thoughts, what was going through your head, when he talked about that?

Jordan Lawrence 25:52

What's interesting about visibility and traceability is you can't really have visibility if you don't have traceability. And a lot of providers talk about both of those. But I don't know that anyone gets it exactly right. There's obviously a huge market demand for this, because that is why hundreds of companies just a few years ago cropped up in this space. I think exactly what you said, Karl, we're in this lifecycle. And I don't know exactly where we are on the journey, but we're not at the end yet. So there's still a lot to be done in the traceability space and a lot to be desired. And, you know, I think one of the topics that was brought up was blockchain. And I was one of the people who say, yes, this blockchain thing is the obvious solution for shared visibility, but I'm not sure it's delivered yet. And I'm not sure if that's actually going to be the ultimate answer to the traceability and visibility problem. And so it's just very interesting to see where this ends up going. And what is the ultimate solution? And who are those providers?

Karl Siebrecht 26:51

Right. So Carmen, what were the things that jumped out most to you from your kind of operator perspective?

Carmen Vasquez 26:57

You know, one of the things that Matt actually mentioned was by obsessing in what customers want, you end up in the right model. So when we talk about all these things, you know, when we talk about visibility, traceability, very critical aspects, and how do we manage those things? How do we enhance efficiency, transparency? So I thought, for me, that kind of hit home, because oftentimes, you know, as we work with some of our partner operators, we have to talk about how we are evolving in the space that we're in. How do we reduce costs? How do we enhance the decision making process? And I think when we talk about what customers want, essentially, you know, digitization and technology play a huge part in how we're evolving and moving forward.

Karl Siebrecht 27:44

There's no question and Jordan, you know, going back to your point about visibility, you know, supply chain visibility is now I think, relatively broadly adopted technology. I think it's still being enhanced. Obviously, it's not done by any stretch, but it's a relatively broadly adopted technology. It's a very important technology. And it does enable a lot of the downstream benefits that customers need in terms of better service delivery, better quality, lower cost, etc. So sort of visibility is almost a prerequisite to getting to some of those business outcomes. And then the prerequisite to visibility is data, right? Getting clean data, I think, I think one of Matt's comments was something like, you know, data is the most unsexy foe faced by businesses. I thought that was a great quote.

Jordan Lawrence 28:39

And maybe just to pair on one more bit to visibility is, hey, I know something is arriving to a warehouse and I know exactly where it is in the journey. That allows you to reoptimize based on what you see coming, and that reoptimization is really something where AI, another topic that of course is a total buzzword right now but was also rightfully discussed by Matt, just had a very interesting perspectives there. You know, AI, has a natural home in supply chain, because AI means your ability to reoptimize. And it really already exists, and in many ways, has been utilized in supply chains for a very long time. And I think this whole process of reoptimizing whether it's where do I slot goods in a warehouse? How do I manage appointments? How do I implement and re forecast? And how often do I do that? The automation that's required really means you need the artificial intelligence to be able to automatically calculate that re optimization frequently. And so I know you guys touched on it briefly in the in the interview there, but I'd love to get your initial thoughts there on AI.

Karl Siebrecht 29:44

Great. Well, I really love the point that Matt made around AI creating the ability to democratize, effectively querying the supply chain, looking for optimization opportunities. When I think about AI, I think about the back end. And I think about smart machines doing, you know, things in the background. And he brought a different perspective, which I think resonates really, really strongly in terms of AI can help the front end of the process; help people who are trying to understand where the opportunities are, they can query the system, if you will, through natural language queries. And that really, really landed with me in terms of clarifying the potential value of AI even further, in terms of its applicability across supply chains. I love that. One more topic to highlight and get your perspectives on: he talked about the need for humility, for kind of admitting what we don't know yet, and showing curiosity around the things we don't yet know. And the pursuit of better outcomes.

Carmen Vasquez 30:51

I think it's so nice to hear actually humility, coming from him because we have to adapt to the new way of doing things. When we think about technological solutions, integration challenges, think about organizational changes from the operator side, essentially, they're always looking for ways to improve your processes, right? Humility means being receptive to that feedback from all the stakeholders. And I think this, this is very valuable insight for making adjustments across the board.

Karl Siebrecht 31:22

But at the same time, he also made the point that we can't make lots of bad decisions. And there's just the risk of, you know, frankly, getting fired for making bad bets or bad decisions. So he kind of juxtaposes those two things.

Jordan Lawrence 31:35

I mean, I think the humility is born out of experience. And what we all experienced was the fallibility of forecasts, or the complete inability to forecast over the past few years. And that naturally left everybody in this space with some degree of humility. I think the next step is the very challenging one. And that's getting out of this risk aversion. I mean, I just loved the point that he brought up that, you know, supply chain executives said to him, you know, first do the things to not get fired. And that is a very, I think, common mindset of all supply chain operators. But it also means that, doing big things, and creating organizational change, and the change management necessary to have that competitive advantage, from a technology perspective, those two forces are at odds with each other a bit. And so just very interesting to hear those two perspectives almost back to back from Matt.

Karl Siebrecht 32:30

And, you know, this goes to the broader point of technology adoption. I think we'd be hard pressed to find a senior supply chain executive who would disagree with a statement that we need to drive better adoption of some of these important newer technologies out there. We have to in order to continue to deliver better results to our consumers. Better results to the corporation and shareholders. Hard pressed to find those. But at the same time, how fast is too fast? You know, what do you find the balance between moving too fast or moving too slow. And Matt also talked about two-way door decisions and one-way door decisions, which I know is Amazon leadership principle, and, you know, look for opportunities where you have two-way doors where you can take a bet and try something and if it doesn't go well, you can unwind it, and walk back through that door versus other areas where it's more of a one-way door. So I thought that was a really compelling way to frame a way to think about balancing the speed of trying new technologies. And the last point as well was, you know, this goes to test and learn. Look for opportunities to run tests, and create experiments inside the operation so that you're ideally constantly testing and learning, figuring out which of the things work and pressing forward on those and then, you know, obviously, discarding those that haven't gone as well.

Jordan Lawrence 33:55

So on the humility thread, I just think it's, you know, it's one of these things where it's, it's the battle with openness to change in the organization. You have a large matrixed organization, how do you actually facilitate change? You know, you need to change, you have the humility, but then enacting it as another battle to get through. You know, Carmine, kind of curious from the operator perspective. You know, where have you seen or in your conversation with the operator, where did the biggest points of change come from, from their perspective?

Carmen Vasquez 34:27

Sure. I spoke with Tyler Walton, VP of client engagement at DM Fulfillment. He talked about kind of shifting from the manual process to more of a like inventory management systems forecast and planning and using technology to enhance some of those processes within his organization.

Tyler Walton 34:50

I'll speak specifically from the lens of a third party fulfillment provider. I think clients have had more requirements from the retailers in which they work with and also the consumers in which are buying their goods. And the third party fulfillment companies have had to work through being able to process orders quickly, be able to receive goods quicker manage their inventory and give them levels of customer service that they have not had, or or demanded in previous years. It allows us to have better tools to maintain our inventory, and then visibility not only for our customers, but also our staff that are account facing and supporting what our clients need on an ever changing basis to help them run their businesses.

Carmen Vasquez 35:40

One of the things that we talked about was actually, and we haven't touched on, it was the data security and the privacy of sharing information with customers, right? And digitally exposing some of the potential cyber security threats and privacy breaches. And that's something that kind of led to the complexity of integration, right? Here's what Tyler had to say about that.

Tyler Walton 36:03

What's really interesting as part of a larger organization, is we have an entire team that is focused on data security. As companies that we work with demand us to have controls and operate and handle the information that we have, it is forcing us to be better from the type of passwords that we use, to the way that we store our data, to the way that we connect.

Carmen Vasquez 36:30

The other thing that we talked about a lot was standardization. So technology relied on consistent data and processes like that. So we talked about them ensuring the data quality, the accuracy, putting a standardization process across all the platforms, they took a kind of a holistic approach in the planning and monitoring all those improvements.

Karl Siebrecht 36:53

Yeah, that absolutely resonates Carmen, and it's well said. Well, we were seeking to get the customer perspective to better understand what digitizing the supply chain means. And Matt has really come through for us on that. I love the way he summarized what his customers are primarily focused on as customers, cash, and carbon. I think that really succinctly kind of puts a bow on it and trying to drive better customer delight, more efficiency and more sustainability, with technologies as the driver of these business outcomes. Great conversation. Jordan and Carmen, thank you for joining us and for sharing your thoughts.

Jordan Lawrence 37:44

The pleasure as always. Carmen, Karl, excellent being with you. I can't wait to hear what we've got queued up next.

Carmen Vasquez 37:50

Thank you so much for the opportunity. Look forward to more conversations ahead.

Karl Siebrecht 37:55

And thank you to Matt Davis again. Let's keep this conversation going.

Narrator 38:01

You've been listening to the Logistics Leadership Podcast presented by Flexe. If you'd like to learn more about the podcast, watch the full length interview or join the Logistics Leadership community. Check out this episode's show notes, and visit flexe.com/logistics-leadership-podcast. Keep the conversation going. Email us at leadershippodcast@flexe.com. The Logistics Leadership Podcast features original music by Dyaphonic. The show's producers are Robert Haskitt and Adam Kapel. Here's a quick pro tip: instead of chasing down the next episode, why not just follow the show and have it appear in your feed automatically. Thanks for joining us.


  • Karl Siebrecht 2022 Headshot 2

    Karl Siebrecht

    Co-founder & CEO

  • Jordan lawrence flexe

    Jordan Lawrence

    Director of Logistics Strategy

  • Carmen Vazquez headshot

    Carmen Vazquez

    Director of Sourcing


  • Matt davis headshot2

    Matt Davis

    VP of Research, Zero100