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Enhancing value through customer centric supply chain

September 20, 2018 • LEADERSHIP, TECHNOLOGY, OPERATION, SPECIAL FEATURES, Artificial Intelligence, Business Process, Digital Transformation, Editors' Pick, Leadership Development, Supply Chain, Top C-Suite Interviews

An exclusive interview with Allan Dow, President, Logility

In today’s fast-changing marketplace, Allan Dow, President of Logility, knows all too well that a customer centric approach to any business is the only holy grail to success. In this interview, he shares with us the critical role of innovative supply chain management in enabling companies to satisfy their customers’ needs beyond their expectations, and how Logility has successfully helped companies to stay ahead of the competition across industries.

 

In today’s fast-paced business environment, what do successful leaders such as yourself have top of mind each and every day?

Today, the supply chain has evolved into a critical component of a company’s ability to satisfy customers, drive profitable growth and deliver new innovations to the market. As the pace of business continues to accelerate, our customers look to Logility to help them stay prepared for new opportunities or risks that may emerge on the horizon. Cyber security, tariffs and changing political leadership are just a few examples of the challenges that are top of mind for me and the leadership team at Logility.

For example, the current escalation (and uncertainty) of tariffs around the world has a significant impact on supply chain operations and a company’s ability to meet their financial and customer service goals. Our solutions help customers model and evaluate the most profitable course of action to minimise the impact of these added costs and uncertainties.

Another key challenge is the ability to attract and retain supply chain talent. Thirty years ago it was difficult, if not impossible, to find a supply chain programme at a university. Today, leading universities offer robust programmes and placement post-graduation is close to 100 percent. However, there is still a shortage of quality talent available. As a leading solution provider, Logility is developing innovative technologies and services to help bridge this gap, ensure supply chains run smoothly and get better leverage from available resources.

 

Prior to your current role, you were Logility’s EVP worldwide sales and marketing. When you look back at the transition to president of Logility, what advice would you provide future leaders? What learnings were you able to bring to your current position?

In my previous roles, I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know both our customers and members of the Logility global team. Through this, we formed lasting relationships that have helped me better understand what keeps them up at night, what excites them and how we can help each other. It is a top priority for me and the Logility executive leadership team to keep this level of contact with both customers and employees.

 

You have been with Logility for almost 18 years. In your long tenure, what’s the most interesting and significant development/transformation you have witnessed in business? Is there a significant transformation specific to your industry as well?

When you look at the past 20 years one of the truly transformative technologies to impact business has been the adoption of cloud computing and the understanding that “cloud” is more than a buzzword. The speed at which business operates has exponentially accelerated because we are able to connect with our customers, suppliers and employees from anywhere at any time. Today’s dynamic supply chains would not be possible if it weren’t for the cloud. When you think about the speed of new product introductions, the ability to serve customers across multiple channels or the capacity to segment your business and prioritise customers, these all rely on large volumes of data delivered, and often analysed in the cloud.

When you look at the past 20 years one of the truly transformative technologies to impact business has been the adoption of cloud computing and the understanding that “cloud” is more than a buzzword.

At the same time, cloud-based solutions have made the consumer smarter. They now have access to more information, are able to simultaneously compare products and services from multiple vendors to make more informed decisions. The power is in the customer’s hands and this requires more focus on feature differentiation while increasing usability and flexibility.

 

How do your solutions enrich your customers? Discuss how Logility Voyager Solutions helps companies deliver a superior customer experience and achieve greater profitability.

The supply chain has the potential to be a significant profit center with a direct impact on a company’s ability to launch new products, deliver exceptional service and reduce working capital across the network. Today, companies from around the world rely on Logility to help drive efficiency, lower costs and improve customer service while uncovering new opportunities to drive profitable growth.

One of the big shifts in the market right now is the digital supply chain transformation and the focus to become more customer-centric. This requires a new approach to supply chain that focusses on understanding the sources of demand and building a plan that aligns the business with market needs. While this can be a significant change, the potential benefits are even greater. For example, in 2017 Gartner published research that shows a one percent improvement in forecast accuracy can reduce inventory obsolescence 3.9% and decrease order-to-delivery cycle time 2.4%. Whether you are a $300 million or a $15 billion company, these percentages translate to significant savings that pay for themselves in just months.

One of the big shifts in the market right now is the digital supply chain transformation and the focus to become more customer-centric.

We have several published examples at www.logility.com that highlight customers achieving double digit improvements in forecast accuracy and service levels. The impact to the bottom line and overall profitability is significant which allows for greater shareholder value, new product innovation and the ability to invest in new processes that build a more agile and responsive business.

 

Companies around the world are focussed on better understanding how to mitigate risks such as volatile customer demand, transparency and cyber threats. Many leading companies are also in the midst of a digital transformation. How do you work with companies to help them understand these challenges and uncover opportunities for growth amid all of these complexities?

This is what we do every day; work with companies to help them uncover new opportunities and evaluate and mitigate potential risks. It is important for us to remain connected with our customers, understand their businesses and industries to anticipate the challenges that concern them. Risks including a sudden plant shutdown or an unforeseen event that causes a spike in demand are just two of the thousands of possibilities that can alter the course of business. The goal is to model some of these scenarios before they happen. For example, creating a Digital Twin of the business provides a platform to simulate hundreds and thousands of potential scenarios and manipulate multiple factors to develop the optimal plan for the business that aligns with corporate goals. Every day, our research and development organisation is dedicated to uncovering new approaches to solve the challenges our customers face. In every solution update, we deliver on our promise to stay at the forefront and deliver the innovations our customers need to collaboratively plan for and identify the right course of action to take.

 

Today’s leaders want to capitalize on their strengths and turn weaknesses into new opportunities. As the president of Logility, how do you turn potential weaknesses into strengths and grow your team’s capabilities to stay ahead of your industry peers?

First, we have to recognise new opportunities in the market. This means we have to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry to identify and understand our customers’ challenges and their vision for the future. We then hone and build our skills through a combination of continuous education and the infusion of new team members to execute that future vision. We have been in the supply chain space for more than 45 years and are able to bring a balance of deep domain expertise and fresh, new ideas to help our customers transform their operations to improve service, cut costs and deliver on their stated goals.

 

What’s the most significant impact your solutions have brought to companies across industries? What have been the remarkable achievements and best feedback you have received?

What gets us excited every day is helping our customers be more successful. Logility delivers tangible business value to help our customers align inventory and operational assets and compete more effectively in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace. We have helped companies grow their business, launch new products and radically transform their operations all while reducing inventory, decreasing risk and increasing service to their customers. The opportunity to serve our customers and be a part of their success story is one of the most rewarding aspects of our job.

 

Companies face new challenges all the time while the complexity of doing business increases. This requires technology companies to stay at the forefront of innovation to solve these challenges. What are the areas Logility will focus on in the coming months and years to help your customers succeed?

For us as well as our customers, time is money. At Logility, we deliver solutions that help automate routine planning and replenishment activities and provide engaging analytics to help every resource gain new insights and make smarter decisions faster. Through advanced technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and algorithmic planning, we are able to augment current business processes and direct attention to the activities that will impact the bottom line.

 

What should organisations focus on as they look to improve their business and drive bottom-line results?

First, it is important to keep the customer at the forefront of any discussion. For many the primary question is: How are we going to serve our customers better, help them reduce costs and grow their businesses? The second question is: Do we have the people, process and technology in place to execute towards our goals?

Often, these questions spark a variety of new questions. Reach out to your solution provider to determine what additional services they can bring that support your efforts. At Logility, our Optimization Services and Logility University programs provide a platform to help our customers continually mature their supply chain operations. Our internal resources become an extension of their team and guide them along to embrace more advanced processes and techniques.

Talent is another area companies must focus on. To be successful you must attract and retain the right people which can be challenging in today’s market. Often referred to as “digital natives,” the younger generations realise their best contributions can’t be made just sitting in front of spreadsheets all day moving numbers around. Instead, they want to interact with a system that automates the routine and directs them towards more strategic activities; that allows them to interact with people across the enterprise and with your partners.

 

At Logility, we hire smart, talented people that develop software solutions to solve a multitude of complex business planning problems and serve our customers. When everyone operates towards the same goal, we are able to empower each other to make better decisions that align with these principles.

All companies have a fair share of disappointments and shortcomings, how do you deal with those and make sure your entire team is heading to same directions? How do you empower your team?

At Logility we have developed a set of core principles that establish our purpose, values and mission. Regardless of the size of your organisation or team, you influence those around you most by your behaviours. Encourage an open and healthy debate on topics and opportunities because every team member approaches a challenge with different experiences – the collective thinking is stronger than the vision of one. At Logility, we hire smart, talented people that develop software solutions to solve a multitude of complex business planning problems and serve our customers. When everyone operates towards the same goal, we are able to empower each other to make better decisions that align with these principles.

 

As the world and businesses advance, there are changes in leadership style and focus. What do you think are the features of a remarkable leader today? What’s your advice for the people who want to catapult their career forward in the software and technology sector?

There are two elements I find to be critical. The first is the openness to continually learn and be on top of emerging trends. The technology sector moves quickly with new innovation after new innovation brought to the market. You have to be aware of these and understand how to apply these developments to solve your customer’s business challenges.

The second element is to remember we are really in the business of relationships. From your employees to customers and shareholders, it is important to remain connected and know the factors that serve each audience. Your customers know their business and their customers. Your team knows their domains. Work together to augment each group’s expertise to make smarter decisions faster.

 

Leaders atop a company naturally have a lot on their plate. What are your favourite routines to keep yourself focussed and healthy at and off work?

I believe you should only invest time in the activities that are important to you and those around you. With a strong focus on what matters most you can quickly remove the distractions, empower those around you and lead a more healthy business. On a more personal note, the routine I hold most valuable is spending quality time with my family.

 

What does success mean to you? Any message you wish to share with our readers?

The best measure of Logility’s success is the success our customers achieve. Business is about relationships, understanding your customers and serving them beyond their expectations. If you and your team are focused on customer success and the ability to balance that with profitable growth, you too will be successful.

Thank you very much, Mr. Dow. A pleasure speaking with you. 

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About the Author

Allan Dow serves as President of Logility, the largest subsidiary and growth engine within the American Software portfolio of companies. With a keen focus on customer success, Mr. Dow is known for helping customers deploy Logility Voyager Solutions quickly to increase revenues and reduce costs while improving product availability and customer service. Mr. Dow brings more than 30 years of experience in strategic planning, sales development, implementation services, and product innovation to streamline, accelerate and optimise supply chain and retail planning enterprises. After joining Logility in 2000, Mr. Dow has been instrumental in shaping the company’s overall strategy development including the transition to delivering a higher mix of SaaS deployments and innovative cloud services. Mr. Dow holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maine.

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