Leaders in Tech and Ecommerce

Monica Truelsch Senior Director of Solutions Strategy for Transportation at Infor

June 10, 2020 Alcott Global Season 1 Episode 30
Leaders in Tech and Ecommerce
Monica Truelsch Senior Director of Solutions Strategy for Transportation at Infor
Show Notes Transcript

Monica Truelsch is Senior Director of Solutions Strategy for Transportation at Infor, the world’s third-largest ERP software company, where she works with the Infor Nexus supply chain network. She joined Infor from Trimble, a world leader in geo-spatial technologies and transportation applications. Her career includes roles in product management, marketing, and sales leadership for advanced technologies in telematics, domestic transportation management, chemical handling, engineered materials, artificial intelligence, and industrial laboratory management. 

Infor Nexus is the world’s leading network for multi-enterprise supply chain orchestration. The network connects businesses to their entire supply chain—from suppliers and manufacturers to brokers, 3PLs, and banks—paving the way for enhanced supply chain visibility, collaboration, and predictive intelligence.

Discover more details here.

Some of the highlights of the episode:

  • How global supply chain transactions are updated roughly 50 times a second on the  Nexus platform
  • China as the primary sourcing market for global supply chains
  • Why humans excel compared to AI in a crisis
  • How Infor keeps the culture intact while working remotely
  • Why diversity is a form of business immunity

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Speaker 1:

Hello, and welcome to the leaders in tech and eCommerce podcast. I'm your host, Andrew Palamara . And I am the APEC director for elk with global executive search. Our mission is to connect the tech in supply chain and e-commerce ecosystem in Asia and globally by bringing forward some of the most interesting stories about success and failure from leaders in the industry. I'm happy to have with us today. Monica thrush , Monica is the senior director of solutions strategy for transportation at Infor the world's third largest ERP software company, where she works with the infer nexus supply chain network. She joined me in four from Timberland , a world leader in geospatial technologies and transportation applications. Her career includes roles in product management, marketing, and sales leadership for advanced technologies in telematics, domestic transportation management, chemical handling, engineered materials, artificial intelligence, and industrial laboratory management. Infer nexus is the world's leading network phone, multi enterprise supply chain orchestration. The network connects businesses, their entire supply chain from suppliers and manufacturers to brokers, three peers and banks paving the way for enhanced supply chain, visibility, collaboration and predictive intelligence. Just a few numbers about for nexus. They have about 65,000 companies on the network. They're around 1 trillion USD in trade managed on the platform and around 50 billion USD, global payments processed on the network. Hi Monica, to have you with us on the podcast today.

Speaker 2:

Hello, Andre. I'm like pleasure to be here.

Speaker 1:

So as we were talking before, and it's a, it's a difficult time we are living and going through these days and let's start with a big issue of , uh , of the day, the COVID-19 crisis. And , um, let's take it a bit further and talk about its impact on supply chains globally , um, in the North, in North America and in Asia, where , where we see quite a few things happening, you work with a diverse set of clients. I think you cover most industries from manufacturers, banks , uh , third party, logistic providers, healthcare providers, and you cover, I think the word , uh , in total or globally . What is your view on where we are today and how we got here from, from this supply chain , uh , perspective?

Speaker 2:

Yes. Um, uh, I work with the import nexus network platform. Part of in , for the , uh, the third largest ERP company in the world in for itself is , uh, uh , follow the sun , uh, operation tens of thousands of employees, offices around the world. And in, for nexus as a global supply chain platform , uh, is connected with tens of thousands of trading partners, service providers , uh, carriers, vendors, contract manufacturers, brokers, forwarders, three POS , um, receiving warehouses distribution centers and so forth , uh , in virtually every continent around the world. Uh, so , um, nexus in particular was in a unique position to see the, the rather rapid evolution of the impact of the novel coronavirus on global supply chains , uh, because global supply chain transactions , um, take place on our business and are updated roughly 50 times a second. I mean, that's really the, the rate of change and global supply chains. New orders are being placed. Um, orders are being shipped. Uh, we're good. They're being produced. Uh, orders are being canceled , updated. Customs is being cleared. Uh, containers are being loaded. Uh , ships are sailing, ships are , uh , being unloaded, et cetera, et cetera, all of the , uh, the steps and the , the chains of custody, handoff that take place to global supply , what the, the development of the novel Corona virus and the , the disease of COVID-19 and countries , subsequent efforts to contain the spread of this virus , um, uh , looked like from our perspective changed , uh, almost daily. So initially it began as , uh , an observation that the normal flows of export goods out of China following the Chinese new year were taking much longer to return to expected , um, post Chinese new year volumes than we had seen in years past and rather dramatically. So, and we've been putting out , um , honestly weekly , uh , bulletins about this tray data that we see in the developments . And so our focus was on how long the impact would be on exports coming out of China for the global supply chains that depended on that region as a primary source in country, though , we were watching that closely. And then , um, news began popping up about the appearance of the Corona virus in other countries , uh, in South Korea in Italy. Um, it appeared in California. Um, it was in Spain. Um, it was in the middle East , um, notes in Turkey, and then suddenly , uh, we began seeing an overall , uh, chilling in global supply chain activity. So it was no longer just on the outflow of goods from China, but you began to see how interdependent nations have become in the modern world of the globalized supply chain and how the disruption that began in one major country. The major source of export goods, China , uh, very quickly came to impact both the import and export of goods and other regions as well, too. So as we've been following this transition and the development of the virus and , uh , governmental regulations to , to control it , um, we have shifted our focus from , um, how long it's taking to resume the normal flow of production and export goods out of China to , um, the cancellation of orders from Western countries to , uh, sourcing countries like China and Singapore and Taiwan and India and South Korea, and , uh, on, into , um, uh , fashion and retail goods , uh, out of , uh , Italy and in Spain and manufacturing supplies , uh, out of Italy and out of the U S as well too, there are no longer going to , to export countries. So , um, we've really seen a chill in demand now that is , um, affecting the consumption of production of from not only China, but all of the other original sourcing countries. So it's no longer just that the world is waiting for China to return to normal, but the world itself is grappling internally within their own borders. Every country is dealing with its own response to this crisis and its ability to export or to receive imports , uh , the demand of its consumer base for these goods. The demand of its industrial manufacturing base for these goods , um , is changing significantly in this time of lockdowns and stay at home. So it's become a far more complex , uh , far more universal development of impact around the world and global supply chains. And , uh, I think we still have a great deal to look for in the development of this crisis and how governments react to it and how quickly , um , national economies in particular businesses , uh, can recuperate from this enforced , um , locked down period, and the dampening of consumer demand in so many regions.

Speaker 1:

Hmm . I think that's a, that's a great overview that you just painted and definitely it's not easy. Maybe China has, has done pretty well and has been recuperating, but globally it's, it's still tough. And I wanted to ask about the supply chain chain trends that you see happening at the moment shaping up at the moment, and also what should we expect in the next few months and on the longterm , I know quite a few of our clients are talking about how , um, the fast moving consumer goods , uh , global corporations, or , um, the , the manufacturers are already convinced that they need to step up the digitization process. I think this is , uh , an overarching trend, but are there other supply chain trends that you see as we speak developing and what's, what's going to happen in , uh , the next few months?

Speaker 2:

Certainly. Yes. Well, the , um, the geopolitical situation between the U S and China, the trade Wars and, and standoffs and so forth that we had going on for the past couple of years , um, had already set in motion, a great deal of diversification and sourcing we saw within , um, our customer base. Um, much manufacturing had been shifted into , uh , other , um, low cost countries in Asia , um, into , uh, South Korea, to India, to Bangladesh, where we saw a great deal of fashion apparel goods going. Um, so , um, when the , uh, slow down for the coronavirus containment occurred in China , um, interestingly enough, many of our fashion and retail customers were somewhat insulated to begin with because they had begun to diversify their supplier base already. Uh, but then as , as we noted before , um, the impact of that virus and containing its spread began to be felt in more and more countries , uh , in the Asian region and then all around the world in Europe and North America, Latin America . So now in Africa as well, too. Um, so that , um, provided just a small buffer as well, but I believe diversification and sourcing areas will become more important for countries , uh , as they seek to provide , uh, a bit more resilience and robustness to their supply chain strategies, if something does begin a problem that develops in one geographic region, what can we do to rapidly shift some of our sourcing into different areas to maintain the flow of essential goods, for instance , um, certainly digitalization is you say, I think has moved to the forefront of supply chain thinking. Um, in addition to the aspects of the , the humanitarian and health crisis that the , the pandemic has brought to the world , uh, I think the heightened visibility to the globalized supply chain, how intricate it is and how many moving parts there are, how many , um, stakeholders, how many companies enterprises take place in the process of moving goods from a place of origin to the end market of consumption are required to make all the supply chains work and how breakdowns, any point along these complex extended supply chains can have serious consequences for both the , um , the enterprise or the brand owner of those goods , uh , as well as for the markets , uh , who need those goods as we can see , um , and the challenges for personal protective equipment supplies and so forth that we have nowadays in so many countries

Speaker 1:

yes. And taking the , um , the train of thought towards him for next is now I know you've , um, your portfolio is quite diverse and maybe you can pick a few , um , topics or a few areas, but what are some of the main priorities that you advise your clients to focus on? What are some of the questions and requests that you receive more often from your clients during this times ?

Speaker 2:

Um, the importance of supply chain planning , um , seems to , um, come and go in ways. I think depending on how uncertain , uh, economic environment or market dynamics may be. Uh , but we do believe that in , um , major upheavals like this, that companies need the most robust tools possible to work through the various scenarios. Um, again, no one can effectively predict the future. At this point, we're all making educated guesses, but the , uh , the best supply chain planning tools in four has very strong products in the suite , uh, can help companies work through these scenarios and the likely outcomes and even explore perhaps unlikely outcomes so that they can build more robust responses , uh , and be better prepared for whatever the future brings for them , uh, in the immediate or near term. Uh, we find a great deal of interest in , uh , basic supply chain, visibility tools, so visibility to , um, supplier operations or contract manufacturers, what orders are in process, which are ready to go , um, our raw materials in place for production. When will they be ready to ship and so forth, and then , uh, working either with , uh , forwarders or three PNLs or , um, ocean carriers , um, uh , the visibility to goods in transit around the world, whether it's by air cargo , uh, air freight is certainly grown in volume during this time period because ocean capacity has been so appended , um, with , uh, with all the changes and so many blank, sailings, too much capacity, too many empty containers and the wrong , uh, ports and so forth at this point. Um, so the visibility to goods and trains it when they're moving across oceans, whether it's on a vessel or on an , uh, air cargo , uh , is paramount, as companies are trying to figure out for a moment to moment where those goods need to go. If you're a retailer and your stores are all closed for the time being, it's quite likely that your distribution centers, your near term warehouses are probably overflowing at this point with goods. And you're looking to deeper storage of those goods to other warehouses perhaps further away from your consumption areas, but also bearing in mind that you can plan for a future when you expect the stores to reopen commerce, to resume people, to begin again, consuming a beach way or back to school goods, if you will. Um, how do you quickly bring your accumulated inventory to market? So do you accept these shipments from your overseas suppliers and keep them , um, in country nearer to your end parts of consumption, or do you choose to ask your suppliers to retain inventory at their locations in the countries of origin, perhaps keep those costs off of your books or in a different , um , aspect of your budget? Because managing cash flow for companies, especially in the retail environment is very critical at this stage as well, to so many moving points, many tactical , um , solutions that country companies need to, to wrestle with , um, either it's time to automate more of their warehouses , uh, so they can improve storage and , uh, and , uh , speed up fulfillment , uh, or it's temporarily engaging more forwarders, public warehousing for storage , uh , or it's the supply chain and scenario planning tools that will help them to quickly respond when their markets opened up again , uh, it, it sort of depends where a company fits into the economic spectrum and what they see as the horizon for the, the reopening of their, their normal markets.

Speaker 1:

Hmm , got it. Um, I would, I would love to take an example if possible, because there is a lot of talk about business continuity. And also, I assume that companies who have been , uh , able to adapt to the current circumstance in , and not take such a hard or difficult hit have done the right steps beforehand, or they had the right systems in place. Is there a specific example, maybe from your portfolio of somebody or a client that has done a good job at putting a good business continuity plan in place, and now they are adapting better?

Speaker 2:

Yes. I think we have , um, a number of companies that are , uh , quite farsighted in their approach to managing global supply chains. Um, we have quite a few in the , the fashion and apparel and footwear space, for instance, whose , um, immediate needs , um, in North American markets , um, were severely curtailed by , um, lockdowns by the sudden evaporation of consumer demand for, for fashion and goods. Um, but they were able to pivot quickly as China's economy reawakened, and there was an uptick in , um, consumption for , um, active footwear, for instance. So because they had a very distributed supply chain system, great visibility to inventory in transit inventory that was in production , um , as well as points of, or nodes of inventory in their global market landscape, they were able to shift idle inventory that wasn't being consumed in local markets into those markets that were opening up and maintain very important revenue , um, for , um , for their businesses. On the manufacturing side, we have a number of companies that are active in the chemicals area and their chemicals are being used in industrial cleaning, disinfecting sanitizing. Some of them are sort of raw material precursors, and some of them are more the, the finished industrial products that are so in demand. Um, they have been , um , extremely creative and resourceful in keeping their essential goods moving around the world into the markets that need them. Uh, so we've seen , um, firms that have taken more control of their international logistics in house, rather than just relying on , um, international , uh , freight forwarders , uh, their international logistics teams in house have very strong carrier relationships. And they've been able to reach out at the highest senior executive levels to ocean carriers and to, to air cargo as well, to secure capacity for their essential goods, even when it doesn't seem like there's very reliable capacity, ocean transit , air cargo , uh, but by reaching out to senior executive levels using their clout as major , uh , global shippers , um, they're able to assure that their essential goods are on board, the next vessel sailing to , um, the , uh, the target , uh, economy that they're supposed to be fulfilling. Uh , and they've been able to , uh, maintain the flow of their essential materials into critical supply areas , um, through the relationships and the visibility that they have with their internal , um, international logistics , uh, to keep goods flowing and to keep , um, revenue , um , coming in for the organization as well too .

Speaker 1:

And I think you touched upon this interesting topic, which is working together, working together and building on the relationships that you already have at an executive level, looking ahead and making sure you're prepared for what's to come. I wanted to ask if there might be some other examples of partnerships or how you see the topic of partnerships during these difficult times, we even saw a airline in , um, I think in Australia working with one of their biggest retailers there and trying to play some of their workforce that was , um, either towards the retail , um , operations. And I think there are some other interesting examples of how companies are coming and trying to, to work as one, to overcome these challenges. How, what, what's your perspective on the topic of partnerships?

Speaker 2:

Uh, that's uh , a topic on which we could spend another few hours.

Speaker 1:

Yeah,

Speaker 2:

it is essential. I think in globalized supply chains to recognize that relationships and partnerships are essential for these, these , um, extended , uh, around the world supply chains to function well , um, within the, in for nexus customer community , uh, we have a number of , um, um, venues, modes channels, if you will, for our customers to engage with one another, we have a group , uh, called the shippers council, which is actually a, a customer run organizations that we support with, with meetings and data and so forth as well. And the focus there is on bringing together companies in many different industries, but who rely primarily on , um, container driven ocean trade , uh, to understand which carriers are performing better or worse, which ports may be giving difficulties and to use their concerted efforts as , um, major shippers to effect positive change with carriers. So , um, in years past, we've seen that , uh, as in for nexus was able to provide our customers with metrics about the data quality and data completeness that was coming from ocean carriers and [inaudible] , uh, and forwarders , uh , about goods in transit , um, that our customers were able to work with their core carriers and exert some influence saying, we need to have more timely updates. Yes, you were sending us information by EDI or by , um, XML message. We need to have this in a more timely fashion. We need to have each of these significant milestones because it allows us to then , uh , coordinate with the downstream aspects of the , the movement of those goods. And we have , um, evidence over time of how that has improved the data output that's available from , um, many ocean carriers , um , more complete, more timely shipment updates. Um , and in turn, this improved visibility has helped our customers collectively to drive down the lead and cycle time for their global supply chains to reduce dwell time, waste, time loss, and damage for their goods in transit. And it's an example of how a community, because they are connected and they have an objective source of data about how the , um, the transportation market performs for them are able then to use their influence, their leverage , uh , to, to affect change that benefits the entire community. We've also seen in the more near term that , um, the, the conference calls, the sort of , uh , webinars and so forth that we're putting together for , uh, our current customers to discuss frankly , uh , and sort of off the record, the challenges they're seeing in global supply chains and with transportation , um, even with things like , um, supplier , uh , financing , uh, trade finance and so forth now , uh , what this means for them. Um, so we've been hearing about the delay in , uh , customs clearance, because there simply aren't enough people coming to work at many customs organizations where clearance is needed. So , um, companies have been working perhaps to look at different ports of entry. Uh, we've been hearing how , uh , companies that normally would not have business relationships with one another , um, are seeing such an increase in inquiries from , uh , potential customers, desperately looking for some types of essential goods or flows of material precursors or some production capacity they're passing on to other Infour nexus customers that are now within their , um, their circle of involvement, if you will. Um, more business opportunities that the original , um, company perhaps is not able to , to fulfill. So there's , uh , a collaborative benefit in sharing some of the , the workload and the , the sales opportunity that is , um, uh , developing so rapidly in this sort of panic response. Uh , but also we're seeing a increased partnership in , uh, and among the service providers , uh, in this particular space. So there are many examples of collaboration of partnership of , um, building on relationships that I think people , uh , hadn't explored well before this crisis put everyone into , um, new proximity and with new priorities. And I think we're going to continue to see that play out that there will be new partnerships , um, long established partnerships perhaps will , um, be appended , uh, perhaps as a companies reworked the way they go about their global supply chain operations. Um, but we do expect that there will be more openness to collaboration because I think in any global, any supply chain, whether it's domestic primarily, or whether it's globalized, the huge inefficiencies in transport , um, that come about because all of these business and consumer supply chains are operating independently of one another. It means that you have a lot of empty capacity in transportation at any given time. That's a waste , uh , of , uh, emissions of , uh , driver time. It adds to congestion in our cities, on our roads , uh, and raises costs for everyone concerned. Uh, as we now see that , uh, volumes , um, for many goods have retreated as demand and national or international marketplaces is constricting. Uh, firms are more open to thinking about possibly combining their shipments with those of perhaps competitors or other regional operators that might be in different businesses to reduce some of that wasted space instead of a 40% full container. What can you do to combine it with another shipper in the area to make sure you've got a 95% utilized container? It helps to lower costs, increase the efficiency of the overall supply chain system , um, and hopefully will drive greater efficiencies , um, as we come out of this crisis as well too.

Speaker 1:

Hm . I wanted to talk a bit more about this, cause I think this is clearly a silver lining out of all this situation where companies are working together to create more efficient to patient operations overall, less impact on the environment and the list can go on. Do you see other examples or other , um, yes . Other examples of silver lining? Cause I know for example , um , I was reading about Amazon and definitely Amazon has been doing the right things. Um, and I think they are expecting a 20 or 22% increase on their profits this quarter compared to last year. Uh , of course there , um, the situation was that a lot of people depend on eCommerce now , logistics and so on, even cloud is important, but are there other sectors or other , um, other places we can look at and say, yes, this is an opportunity. Yes, this is a silver lining that is coming out of this crisis.

Speaker 2:

Uh , I think it might be difficult for us to predict many positive outcomes. Um, I think certainly we will hope for the best , uh , but there is a great deal of uncertainty in the marketplace now about what the new normal will look like. Particularly, I think in the , um, consumer goods area , um, the, the noted trend of decline in brick and mortar stores and retail , um, the closing , the store closings and malls , uh, the shrinkage in, in store footprint and the growth in e-commerce. I think we've all seen going on for quite some time, but the general feeling is that firms that were overly reliant on their brick and mortar or retail store fronts and were , uh , perhaps declining in competitive ability because of that, they hadn't been fully embraced e-commerce , uh , they may not survive , um, or survive in the same form , um, this particular challenge, their business model. So I think an accelerating pivot for many retailers to embrace a , uh , an eCommerce strategy to rethink their , um, retail store exposure, to rethink where they fulfill orders from for an increasingly distributed consumer base , uh, is going to continue and be accelerated because of the pressures of this , um, this virus , uh, the growth in alternative last mile or final mile delivery solutions from the major, let's say parcel carriers, DHL , uh , federal express or FedEx , uh , ups. Um, I think that's being augmented now by Amazon's own investment in last mile and final mile delivery. I think you're going to see a great deal, more growth in regional parcel or small package carriers and delivery services. We're already seeing , um, a huge growth in delivery of food and groceries, which was kind of a niche thing for big cities , um, prior to the coronavirus. And , and now is seeing a huge upsurge , um, as people simply are , um , staying home in their own houses and that want to be exposed to , um, the environments within a grocery store. So we've accelerated the adoption of a , um, a growth in listed the home delivery of food stuffs. Uh, and we've probably accelerated the decline in shrinkage of retail stores in many respects , um, going forward , um, consolidation or better use of transportation capacity, I think is going to be forced on virtually everyone because , um, we're seeing impacts on ocean , uh, on air freight , uh, and on trucking as supply chains at every point in the inbound and in the outbound , um, side of , um , the operations , uh, are being severely challenged. Um, many transportation carriers , uh , are not going to survive this particular downturn as well. So we're going to have consolidation. We're going to see perhaps the more emergency mergers and acquisitions. It's quite likely we will see the loss of a fair amount of actual transportation capacity in the marketplace. Um, already ocean carriers are parking quite a few of , uh , of their container vessels. So many sailings have been blanked . Um, the journal of commerce reports that the ocean carriers are rethinking their entire strategy around the mega container ships. And perhaps it makes more sense to have a larger fleet of smaller vessels that can be more quickly , um, rerouted or redistributed as , um, lines of supply alter or as market capacity fluctuates. You can't necessarily always depend on the primary volumes coming from China and going into the West coast or the East coast of North America. Um, it is going to be a, a new landscape in global supply chains. Um, there will be perhaps fewer participants in the , uh, the transportation or the logistics execution side of it. And I do believe that more companies will be interested in bringing the expertise in international logistics back within their , um, their own four walls. They're not going to rely as heavily on global freight forwarders as they may have in the past. Um, they probably will want greater control over their costs over their carrier relationships , um, and the ability to pivot quickly to be more agile in response to disruption. Um, and it will, it will cause some changes in the economic and market dynamics of the , um, the logistics service provider space, I think in the near term. But overall, I believe ultimately it's going to have a great deal of benefit and driving out waste and reducing some of the fragmentation that has held back much of the international logistics industry from truly embracing digitalization. Uh, I think those firms that , uh , those service providers, carriers that have invested in transportation that have more robust systems , um, that are , um, tied into the major TMS and ERP that are closely integrated with the terminal port operations that have invested in their, their fleet . Um, they're going to be in much better position to provide the higher levels of service in a more personalized and customized fashion that , um, global enterprises will look for as they come out of the pandemic crisis and deal with , um, what will become the new normal for awhile in the markets.

Speaker 1:

Definitely the new normal will be reliant a lot on good systems here is where necklace comes in. And, and I think , um, like , like we mentioned before, executives are already convinced of the need of doing this. If they haven't done already, it's just a matter of implementing and then coming out on a healthy or as best as possible from, from the situation , um, wanted to take this question , uh , for the two words , um, inside organizations siding for nexus , um , because everybody, or a lot of , uh, a lot of people are working from home nowadays. How is this , um , going for, for Infor and , uh , how do you, you have a team you have to manage, I assume, quite a few people. How do you manage working from home for the team and overall for the company? How has it impacted the culture and the feeling of the company?

Speaker 2:

Uh , yes, many companies are embracing this , uh, for the first time has been more of a challenge for them in four , I think was , um, rather , um, uniquely well prepared for this situation. Um, they had already embraced a strategy , um, quite a few years ago of in pursuit of the best talent they could find in a given regions for a particular types of work of enabling , uh, people to work remotely. So in Ford had very strong systems where for their, their VPN virtual private networks strong, distributed it and help desk systems , um, that were present in , um, every geographic region we're in port has offices and , um, hundreds of offices around the world. Again, it's a follow the sound organization. So we have development, sales, service support , um, and I think 72 countries , uh, at least maybe more than that, perhaps at this point , um, around the world. So , um, in, for , as an organization already had a tremendous experience and resources in supporting a very distributed , um, and network of workers , uh, in supporting the work of individuals from remote offices or from home offices and a strong culture of , um, virtual meetings. So early users of WebEx and Skype and Microsoft teams and solutions like this to bring together distributed teams that might be partially located in New York, partially in Dallas, Texas, partially in Oakland, California , um, partially in Bangalore and Sri Lanka , um, with sales input from , um, Belgium and Germany, all on the same call to deal with , uh , a particular problem or with a new product development or with the , um, extension or support of a , uh, a new global customer with operations in , in many different geographic regions. So as an organization in, for , in general and in, for nexus in particular, because again, ours business is supporting global supply chains and global customers. Um, we're well familiar with virtual meetings with virtual participation with distributed team building , uh, Infour has provided the, the proper talent management , uh , and human capital management tools , uh , to help managers support their employees , uh, to measure their output, to help coordinate their work , uh, to provide visibility, to provide access to the human resources, the payroll support tax , um, travel planning, whatever is necessary in a particular geographic region for the employee base there to perform at their fullest. They've also provided very forward thinking employee support , um, excellent health care programs , um, extended care programs for children and for elder care , um, that support the ability for workers to not worry about providing care for dependents and so forth , uh, within a global range. So it's the entire support network around a distributed workforce , uh, that also helps to improve productivity. Uh, I think overall again, because we are a software company, we're not a manufacturing firm, we've been able to , uh, adapt to this new world of social distancing and work from home extraordinarily well, where we might normally have , uh , brought , uh , teams of people to a new customer to assist with onsite meetings of discovery and software implementation, planning, and so forth. Those meetings are all being conducted virtually now. And of course it's possible for us to work with our systems and with our network and cloud based software to do most , uh, technical work remotely. Uh, and of course the process or the methodology of working with new customers on implementation projects to understand their work processes and so forth , um, is something that we have already, well-structured internally with our professional services organizations. And that's something that we can grow aloud in a WebEx meeting or in a zoom meeting , uh , just as well as we can do face to face. So it's meant , um, remarkably little disruption to our ability to service customers, to both provide technical and client support ongoing, but also to implement a new customers who might have been in the midst of a new ERP or new supply chain management software implementation, but we've also kept , um, a very high level of morale. I think our participation , uh, in the input group, our CEO, Kevin Samuelson , um, checks in weekly , uh, from his home office , uh, sends out videos, provides updates on the health of the company , um, on the , um, distinguished work as teams in certain regions , uh, on , uh , notable new developments , changes , uh, heroic activities of particular , um, employee groups in, in certain areas, what we're doing as individuals and different geographies to , um , support our friends and neighbors in this crisis, what we're doing to help our in this crisis. Um, so communication has been critical , uh , leadership from the top , um, has combined both empathy for the workers and for the challenges that are facing our customers with strong team building and strong support for employees. Um, and I think overall it's been a , uh , a very successful response to it, a very extraordinary time , uh, for the incor organization itself in this current period.

Speaker 1:

Monica also wanted to ask about your , um, uh, your perspective on it and your personal toolbox, because I know , uh , I was reading actually from your LinkedIn about it, and I'm curious how this work from home has affected your work with the clients and so on. And especially there is an acronym they're called a B F H, which I'm very curious to find out a bit more about then , how is it effected during this work remotely period?

Speaker 2:

Ah , yes. Um, when we are engaged , uh , at a certain , um, management or executive level in, in global health [inaudible] complex businesses, especially in supply chains where there are so many moving parts, so many , um, unique and challenging processes , um, you do need a very , uh, diverse tool kit to respond and to solve the huge variety of problems that you can encounter. Um, the BF H that I referred to is perhaps , um, a reference , um , that came out of my experience in manufacturing environments. So before I was in supply chain , um, my career had extended into capital equipment and , um, manufacturing and production and elastomer environments , um, chemical processing, the maintenance, repair, operations, that sort of thing. So , um , I learned the language and the toolkit of people who actually use tools in their daily basis to, to do their jobs. And the BFA H um , was a shorthand for , um, a big frigging hammer. So you may have a set of various specialized tools that are unique for certain problems, but there are some intractable, very difficult problems where only the application of blunt force is a way to remove the log jam or get something freed up and get it moving. It's not always the best tool for every situation, but sometimes yes, that's what you need to bring into play. Um , I would say that given the fluidity of , um, the, the, the current market and, and business dynamic around this, this global crisis and the response of businesses to it, that a hammer is not necessarily the most effective tool , uh , things are so fluid, but if you try to apply blunt force, things will sort of squish and move out of the way you won't have control. I think , um, the , uh , this situation highlights the importance of a people skillset , uh, in supply chains in particular. Um, although there's been a lot of talk lately about robotics, autonomous trucks, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and so forth , uh , sort of taking people and human error out of the equation, automating things , um, you know, reducing , um, workforce headcount , uh, trying to increase the speed velocity of throughput. Um, the truth remains that when you have , um, an unusual and unknown future ahead of you, when you're already countering a situation that has never been seen before, which I think we can all agree is what we're doing with the , uh , novel Corona virus these days. Um, artificial intelligence turns out to be extremely dumb. Um, the downside of artificial intelligence and , and having worked in that field for quite some time early in my career is that it has to learn from things that seem before artificial intelligence machine learning is very dependent on data. And as soon as you try to use that artificial intelligence, those, those algorithms, those models to project, or to predict things outside of the known environment , um, the success of those projections and predictions can fall off dramatically. This is where humans really Excel. This is where our ability to deal with exceptions to overcome dis continuity's in process or steps to look for or to , to intuitively grasp new and creative unexplored ways to solve a problem really comes to the fore , uh, and in supply chains in particular, I think it is the , um, the work of experienced , uh, creative , uh, professionals who have deep domain expertise who have relationships in international logistics who have strong connections with their supplier networks who have an established team that works well together and has the appropriate tools to support , um , their quick response in situations , uh, where they will really shine , um, from a toolkit perspective, the ability to develop such a team to nurture this talent, to provide them with the , uh , infrastructure and the systems that they need to work effectively to remove barriers to their cooperation, to their performance , uh, to support them in a high risk environment , um, by not punishing them for failure, but by rewarding , um, the taking of risks , um, the creative approach, the solutions, these, I think are the essential toolkits of a successful manager in a time of crisis like this, because it is your people. It is your teams, it is their ability to work with other people that will get you through this crisis. The tools are there to support the teams, but it is essentially the , um, their ability to work together, to have full support from management , uh, to have clarity and, and , um, support to do their jobs as effectively as they know how , uh, that I think will make the difference between successful organizations and those that don't come out so well after this pandemic is behind us.

Speaker 1:

I totally agree. And I think you nailed it with , um , it's all about the human factor in this kind of crisis, where nobody has ever seen something similar, or , um , you can't predict it , uh, as you mentioned, algorithms can help, but , uh, when you feed them data that haven't been, they haven't seen before the algorithms, in this case, they can't do much with it. So that's why this support system is so important. As you mentioned, sometimes it's , it's good to have , um , the , the BF , the big freaking hammer at hand, probably not, not in this case where it's so nuanced, but that's a, it's a, I will , I will remember that acronym. And , uh , when you guys think we are close in the , this is the last question I wanted to bring up , um, to close on this note , um, what should we expect in the next few months and how should we prepare a supply chain professionals? What are your thoughts on this?

Speaker 2:

Yes . Well, that's the question on everyone's mind right now is how quickly will things begin to reopen will supply chain demand , uh , begin to return where it's been largely frozen , um , and how quickly will , um, companies be able to restart their chains of supply to meet that demand? Um, will it be a sudden and overwhelming when consumers finally returned to buying things or will it trickle through? So the uncertainty around how to prepare for the way in which different markets, different economies , um, will emerge from this crisis. Um, I think calls for a great deal of caution and a great deal of clever planning on the part of supply chain professionals. So we know the infer nexus , um, uh, side of things that our customers are wrestling with , um, how to , uh, ensure that they have transportation capacity to move their goods from where they're being held currently , uh , to where they expect those breeds to be consumed. Um, when the market finally awakens when demand finally returns , um, they are strengthening relationships with carriers, with trucking companies, with ocean carriers, with air cargo lines , they're expanding relationships with third party logistics firms and with freight forwarders. Um, they are , um, looking into new ways to use store locations as , um , either warehouse or storage space for excess inventory. Um, but also how to be procurement centers for greater e-commerce , um , needs companies are beginning to plan for different scenarios of what reawakening demand for their goods will mean. Um, there are many , um, markets where they see extended downturns. I think construction , um, automotive , um, is going to see a downturn for quite some time, consumer goods, perhaps not quite at the levels of consumption that we have seen in years past, but inevitably children will be returning to school. Uh, children continue to grow, they continue to need clothing. People continue to eat. They're going to look forward to more diversity in their foodstuffs , um, slowly but surely travel may come back, but I don't expect to see a huge uptick in the hospitality industry for quite some time. There'll be a lot of caution, I think about personal travel still for some while. Um, but it is a beginning to look through these scenarios to imagine what they mean for the business and to lay the groundwork in your supply chains, to , uh , begin executing, to make sure that your goods are staged for the market at the various , um, times of seasonal demand, for instance, for clothing or for foodstuffs and so forth that you expect your markets will coincide with. Um, so there's a great deal of supply chain planning going on. There's a great deal of capacity planning , um, and , um, companies are diversifying their bets. They are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst , uh , which has perhaps , uh , I think something that , that all of us have experienced recently. Um, and I think overall the basic growth and , and help of the worldwide economy, the dependence of global supply chains , uh, is going to mean a faster return to something that is a more familiar, normal , um, will happen , um , far more quickly, perhaps then the , uh , more dire pessimists have projected. Um, but , uh , companies are projecting with the best of their experience and insights and , uh , cooperation with peers and colleagues and industry experts , uh, to , um, move forward in this time of uncertainty and to continue in the missions that their brands and their corporations have laid out for themselves. And , um, yeah, we'll see, it's exciting. Uh, things will be changed , uh, but we also believe that new opportunities will be emerging for , uh, for certain companies and players in the industry. And , uh, it will be exciting to watch that development as well.

Speaker 1:

Hmm . I agree. And on this note, Monica, thank you very much for sharing your perspectives. Really appreciate your examples, your examples of the toolbox of the clients, of how you see the world going. And yes, hopefully we will come out of this better and it will be a V-shaped recovery. Um, and we have to hope for the best and prepare for, for the worst , but , uh, yeah, let's focus on the hoping part for now and do our best.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely absolutely are squishes . And thanks go out to all of the healthcare professionals around the world that has helped keep their populations, their friends and neighbors safe, but it's helped them through this difficult healthcare crisis. This is above all . I think as humanitarian and healthcare crisis, the supply chain affects business affects are , um, uh , of course, typical as well. Um, but it is our families and our friends and our communities that we are most focused on. Um, but we've seen extraordinary examples of cooperation and support. Um, we're heartened by the greater sharing and awareness of our common humanity and vulnerability in these times. Um, and, and , um, we're hoping for positive outcomes as we all emerge from this . Thank you again. Thank you very much for the time Andre. It was a pleasure.

Speaker 1:

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Speaker 3:

Mmm .