Impact 2011 afforded the opportunity for us to once again sit with Infosys executives to discuss and exchange views on top-of-mind business process management, information technology and supply-chain related topics.  On Monday, Anil Venkat, Infosys’s very able Enterprise Solutions Marketing Manager was able to coordinate this session that included:

Vishnu Bhat, Vice President and Global Head, Systems Integration

Balaji Desikamani, Marketing Manager, Systems Integration

Gopi Krishnan, Delivery Manager and Lead, Enterprise Solutions, Supply Chain Management

Guneet Paintal, Senior Principal Consultant, Enterprise Solutions, Supply Chain Management

Our conversations focused on two principal areas namely the direction of client and market activity in both cloud computing and supply chain management business and IT needs.

On the topic of cloud computing, much commentary exists in the blogosphere in social channels as to whether IT technology vendors and bloggers have been overhyping cloud in order to drive up interest levels.  The issue, as always, lies with customers and their business strategy and IT needs.  Vishnu described how customers are indeed indicating consideration and interest for cloud computing alternatives, but with expressed needs for flexibility and alternatives in deployment models.

Infosys has been working on four to six year roadmaps that address needs for a combination of IT capabilities that span both public and private cloud delivery options.  An end state includes the potential of 30 to 40 percent of the IT landscape involving complex, mission critical systems with the option of 60 percent of IT applications being deployed from either public or private clouds.  There are also realities to consider.  Clouds which involve more than a single technology vendor’s presence and the need for a cloud ecosystem integrator are becoming an important consideration.  Provisions for flexible capacity, similar to what we often discuss in supply chain, is another important consideration when customers require the availability of a burst of computing capacity to accommodate a product or event-driven promotion.

For its part, Infosys has been coordinating a rather broad collection of services capabilities that will span business consulting, roadmap migration, application development and tuning for cloud based footprints, along with business process or IT outsourcing, if required by the customer.  Industry knowledge and expertise will also be other important criteria for customers evaluating cloud options. Vishnu Bhat  stressed that Infosys will be prepared to provide the single point of accountability for customers, which includes the need for orchestrating coordinated service-level agreements with multiple technology vendors and ecosystem players, which is an area that certain businesses need to consider in a cloud computing strategy.  The age-old notions of ‘one throat to choke’ are just as valid today and in the future.

Our conversations then shifted to supply chain and the continuing trend among manufacturers and retailers to become more business outcomes focused in their business process and technology transformation needs. Gopi  Krishnan and I began this conversation via a Supply Chain Matters interview commentary in March. He noted that each SCM investment role, either a revenue and enhancer, or industry process differentiator,, is being questioned like never before.  Our conversation at this session reflected on the retail industry specifically, and how the new empowered consumer is motivating retailers to now re-look at business models in the light of buying experience outcomes. Guneet Paintal, who has consulted with upwards of ten well-recognized retail names, noted how quickly the notions of multi-channel fulfillment capabilities are changing for the industry. Retailers are now focusing on the need for consumers to have a seamless experience in product research, taking advantage of promotions, painless ordering, pickup and services. We also discussed that achieving multichannel commerce capabilities requires a series of building block process capabilities, each with its own business outcome, often with supply chain implications.  Each of these building blocks leads to the over-arching business outcome.

A final topic of discussion was the application of social business concepts in this new era of multi-channel commerce.  We all agreed that in certain aspects of gaining insight on voice of the customer, new product introduction and product management, social concepts of Twitter, Facebook and so forth do have a role to play on the front-end demand sensing side of the value-chain.

As always, it was a stimulating conversation.

Bob Ferrari

Disclosure: Infosys Technologies is one of other sponsors of the Supply Chain Matters blog, and was one of other named Gold Sponsors of Impact 2011.