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The rise of digital commerce has transformed global supply chains. Now more than ever, companies rely on a range of technologies to manage all dimensions of their supply chains. Baird hosted a panel to explore the evolution of those technologies at the firm’s Global Industrial Conference this past November.

Moderated by Joe Vruwink, Baird’s Senior Research Analyst covering vertical software, the discussion featured Brian Kinsella, SVP of Product Management at Manhattan Associates, and Martin Podorsky, Head of Credit at Flexport Capital.

Consumers Have Higher Expectations

The rise of online shopping increased the impact of supply chains on the end consumer experience, said Kinsella. “What we’ve seen over the course of the last 10-15 years is sustained investment in operational excellence along those lines.”

Consumer expectations have increased in kind – and those expectations are trickling down to other areas, even industrial distributors. “Customers… have consumer-like expectations in terms of visibility of their order and ability to change their order late in the game. And so really even in those sectors, you’re starting to see a real push for agility within supply chain execution.”

Inventory Remains Challenging

“We’ve seen some hiccups and some of these companies who have maybe thought 2021 was kind of a run rate, and so they have over-ordered inventory and they’re sitting on inventory, and so they’re working that through,” shared Podorsky. How will retailers work through massive inventory backlogs? “What will really be telling is what happens with that in the first quarter of [2023],” he said.

Kinsella called out other inventory challenges he’s seeing with his clients. “Sometimes you have too much, but you also have it in the wrong spot. To get maximum monetization from your own inventory, you need to be able to take an order from somebody on a phone in rural Maine and fulfill it from an overstock store in San Diego. The industry is still growing into that competency and having those capabilities,” he said.

The Cloud Opportunity

Supply chain software solutions are moving to the cloud, which creates significant opportunities for companies using the tools. Kinsella highlighted that many customers for this software are conditioned to buy in categories. Cloud software solutions unite modules that were once disparate, as well as “safely and in a way that customers continue to grow into more capability over time.”

The cloud also enables software providers to offer customers a level of customization – but it must be built properly. “If you want to allow customers to go in and change the user interface to write their own microservices and plug it into the flow, that’s where you really have to have your stack architected properly,” according to Kinsella. “If you have any technological competency in your prospect or customer base, they’re going to sniff that stuff out very quickly.”

Meet the Panel

Brian Kinsella
Panelist: Brian Kinsella

SVP of Product Management, Manhattan Associates

Martin Podorsky
Panelist: Martin Podorsky

Head of Credit, Flexport Capital

Joe Vruwink
Moderator: Joe Vruwink

Senior Research Analyst, Baird