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Dr. Michael Watson
Northwestern University


Supply Chain by Design

Dr. Michael Watson, one of the industry’s foremost experts on supply chain network design and advanced analytics, is a columnist and subject matter expert (SME) for Supply Chain Digest.

Dr. Watson, of Northwestern University, was the lead author of the just released book Supply Chain Network Design, co-authored with Sara Lewis, Peter Cacioppi, and Jay Jayaraman, all of IBM. (See Supply Chain Network Design – the Book.)

In addition to teaching at Northwestern, Watson is a founding partner at Opex Analytics. 

October 9, 2018

CSCMP Edge - Nike Quote: "It is All an Art Project Until you Get it on Someone’s Feet"


A Panel Discussion of Breaking Down Barriers and Thinking About the Entire Business







During the keynote panel discussion (with Amazon, IBM, and Nike), Nike’s Mike Brewer gave quote in the title: 
“It is all an art project until you get it on someone’s feet.”


Of course, the direct meaning of the quote is the importance of the supply chain and operations.  As Mr. Brewer, described it, even in a company where design is very important, you still need to get your products to your customers.

 

The quote goes even deeper.  We’ve all heard business leaders talk about the need to break down the internal barriers in the company.  Just as the good “art project” needs a supply chain team, the supply chain team also needs to have a good art project as a reason for it to exist.


Watson Says...

Getting close to the consumer is not just for sales and marketing.

What do you say?

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One of the themes I picked up on during the CSCMP Edge conference in Nashville this year was breaking down barriers and thinking about the entire business.  That is there was more talk about how people in the supply chain can help shape how a company can get closer to the consumer.  That is, the “art project” can be the ability to serve the consumer in innovative ways.  Getting close to the consumer is not just for sales and marketing.

 

In one session at CSCMP Edge, we were able to dive deep into this topic. 

 

I was able to moderate a panel with Angharad Porteous from Nike, Sana Raheem from The Farmer’s Dog, and Derrick Register from Coca-Cola Refreshments.  The theme of the panel was all about large CPG companies connecting directly with the end consumers. 

 

Nike mentioned their experimental store in Beverly Hills that is meant to help them get much closer to the consumer.  They are also running other experiments with other apps, focusing on some key cities, and other ideas.  You get the feeling that the work to connect to the consumer is a collaboration between a lot of different functions in Nike. 

 

The Farmer’s Dog (if you’ve never heard of them and you are a dog lover, check them out) reminded me of Dollar Shave Club.  They sell dog food directly to the consumer.  And, in the process, they are building strong relationships directly with consumers.  At the end of the talk, Ms. Raheem, who has experience from traditional large CPG firms, stressed that home delivery and direct-to-customer is here to stay.  I remember hearing an executive from Kraft saying that she thought the big change would be trying to figure out how go from delivering full pallets of products to retailers to selling single items to consumers.  That day might be here. 

 

Coca-Cola mentioned the importance of the Freestyle machines to connect to consumers.  The flavors that are popular or new can be quickly fed back into Coca-Cola to help figure out what new items they should offer and what flavors might start selling in traditional retailers. 

 

It is very interesting to see how people within functions like manufacturing and the supply chain are so closely connected to the end consumers.  This also allows operations to shape that relationship with the consumer.


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