Today has been a non-stop series of activities for this blogger as I took in the Sterling Commerce Customer Connection 2010 Conference here in Dallas. One of the highlights of my day was the opportunity to meet and speak with four key executives at Infosys.

They included:

Gopi Krishnan Delivery Manager and Lead for the SCM Practice.  Readers may note that Gopi recently contributed a Supply Chain Matters guest posting regarding procurement strategies.

Atul Pandey- Industry Head- enterprise application Integration and Services

Jai Sankar- Vice President, Enterprise Solutions

In our discussions, we had the opportunity to touch upon a number of strategic topics involving global supply chains, more than I can cover in depth in one short posting.  I plan to do some post-conference postings to further explore these topics.

Key highlights of discussion included the following:

The Infosys partnership with Sterling Commerce has been a long one, dating back to the first Yantra related projects in 1995. Since that time, both companies have built what can be best described as a symbiotic relationship in extended supply chain integration and collaboration areas. Today, Infosys stands as an extension of Sterling professional services in size and scale of EDI, order management and other supply chain collaborative transformational projects.  Both parties have high praise for each other, and by my observation, truly act as extensions of capabilities to serve customer needs. Throughout this past recession, customer projects continued to go live as firms had to adjust to rapidly changing business priorities and make improvements in their business fulfillment capabilities.  Gopi provided a perspective of this year’s conference vs. last year, that within a very short period of joint development time, Sterling is now introducing more customer flexibility in deployment options and more applications related to the mobile user.

Our discussions also explored the fundamental changes underway in many retail and manufacturing oriented supply chains.  There is little doubt that with global expansion, supply chains have become far more complex.  Static roadmaps of business process needs no longer apply, since the agility needed to support cross-industry global business processes far outweighs a rigid roadmap. Industries such as high tech find themselves evolving to new supply chain fulfillment models.  Companies such as Cisco, Intel and others may well be characterized as appearing more a fashion merchandizing supply chain fulfillment model as more and more products are driven by highly sophisticated consumer tastes.  No doubt we can all look to Apple as setting the benchmarks in these capabilities with their rapid introduction and ramp-up of new products that capture the fascination of consumers and are fulfilled at multiple points in a channel.

Finally, we discussed the significance of Sterling’s announcement to offer cloud computing options in the order management and supply chain collaboration areas, an area that so many companies deem to be mission critical.  The consensus of the discussion was that cloud computing options can now be viewed as an extension of business process outsourcing (BPO).  Companies had no choice but to aggressively attack costs during the period of severe global recession. With the shift toward post recession recovery, many companies are now focusing on growing top line revenues, enhancing the customer experience or growing new service lines.  But uncertainty has not eased the continuing needs to reduce more cost across the supply chain.  For many companies, the implication is the need to now explore “thinking outside the box” in terms of overall supply chain capabilities.  What processes and fulfillment capabilities are core to differentiation in the market?  What are not? Cloud computing can provide added options for deployment, reduction in assets, or more rapid deployment.  This is a topic that merits further postings and commentary. Look for it…soon.

Bob Ferrari