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Karin Bursa, executive vice president of Logility, defines "Concept to Customer," and places it in the context of real-world product lifecycle management.
Q: What do you mean by “concept to customer”?
Bursa: It's broadening what you're thinking about from a supply-chain perspective. So much of a product's cost basis gets designed in, when you’re bringing new products to market. There are costs associated at each stage of the innovation. You're going from product concept, right through to your planning practices and supply-chain optimization, all the way through to delivery to the customer.
Q: So you’re not designing the product and throwing it over the fence to supply-chain, saying, “You deal with it now.” Supply chain is at the table at the moment of ideation?
Bursa: Absolutely. You’re thinking about how that product will come to market, what type of materials are essential to it, and how you source effectively. It's about breaking down those internal silos to accelerate the whole process of bringing new products to market, right through to end-of-life status.
Q: Where are we on that continuum? Just how far do companies have to go?
Bursa: Only a few innovators in every industry are tackling it end to end. As you evaluate your planning platforms, you should be thinking about breaking down silos and having all the teams talk to each other. And designing as much reuse into your process as possible, while also giving fresh innovation into the product portfolio. There are also opportunities to extend visibility across the business, to know where you are in your product lifecycle, and how your plans need to change over time. It's exciting to think about how artificial intelligence plays into this. It impacts how you look at the attribute-based planning characteristics that you're designing in, and what you can leverage from past successes as well.
Q: To what degree do you feel that companies are making full use of all the data that’s now available at their fingertips?
Bursa: We're just tapping into all of these prolific data sources. Some companies are still struggling with internal data, much less data outside of the enterprise. Today, it's still very much a reality that most global businesses are operating on multiple ERP [enterprise resource planning] systems, for example. We serve customers with as many as 50 different ERP systems in their portfolio, and helping them get a consistent view of their enterprise data offers huge opportunities. Then you open that up to some of these new data sources — the internet of things, new sensors, new demand signals—and it gets really exciting. It offers a big opportunity to refine what those market signals look like.
Q: As you become more sensitive to the real world, does this mean that products don't get as much of a chance in the market because you can instantly determine that something's not working?
Bursa: That is possible. It makes it imperative that you adjust your quantities on new products. Instead of doing a big bang every time, you might do trial markets for new intros, or look at new offerings in specific channels or regions for your business. Then, based on the success or feedback, you're able to tweak what you're bringing to market before you fully invest in the inventory needed.
Q: What are some of the results and benefits that you've seen from leaders today?
Bursa: The first opportunity is to get rid of manual processes — all those manual communications with your sourcing and design partners — to leverage digital assets. Visual assets are a part of the design of new products. They could be photographs, design documents, or quality specifications. The ability to follow them through full commercialization, from an omnichannel perspective, is a huge opportunity.
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