This supply chain technology industry analyst recently had the opportunity to interview Nirav Patel, the newly appointed CEO of specialty supply chain and analytics business advisory and system integrator firm Bristlecone.
For readers who may not be familiar with Bristlecone, the firm positions itself as a trusted partner in supply chain transformation, specializing in helping organizations create higher performing environments and deliver positive customer experiences. This organization currently provides over 1,800 consultants operating among over 20 countries.
Bristlecone operates as a part of India’s Mahindra Group a multi-billion technology and manufacturing conglomerate.
Patel came to his new executive leadership role after an over 25-year stint at systems integration firm Cognizant, having served in a number of executive leadership roles including global head of various industry practices such Communications, Media, Technology, Logistics and Transportation segments.
In viewing and assessing the business consulting and system integration services dimensions of supply chain management focused technology, this Editor has consistently advocated that focused specialty firms, with deep supply chain domain and industry supply chain knowledge are the best equipped to shepherd technology assessment and transformational needs. Project areas need to be well defined and appropriately scoped for quicker time-to-value for stakeholders. In my mind, specialty is not in the scale of consultants but in the specialized knowledge and inherent experience of consultants.
In speaking with supply chain management executives or teams about their experiences with solutions technology and information integration firms, I often look for descriptors related to partner vs. body shop, best practice thought leader, partnership, skilled, great to work with, among other positive traits.
It is with this bias that I approached our interview.
During our discussion, it became clear to me that Patel has an astute understanding of today’s C-Suite challenges and how that will translate into expectations of an organization’s supply chain capabilities. He indicated that many companies across different manufacturing and services sectors have now realized that they need their organization’s to double-down on digital transformation as a result of the learnings of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: “COVID-19 amplified and accelerated trends we had already been seeing in the industry.” He articulated that disruption can and does provide opportunities for competitive advantage in areas of product and process innovation as well as business capability, including that of supply agility or resilience. Bristlecone as a firm responded by creating what was termed as COVID-specific offerings to help clients respond more quickly and begin to reinvent their businesses.
In the perspective of what separates Bristlecone from other firms, he recognized that areas of innovation, time to value and flexibility remain key differentiators. This includes having a technology portfolio that spans multiple platforms, packaged solutions and unique intellectual property.
Patel acknowledged that specialized, small and focused, with the ability to go deep in supply chain management transformation segments is an advantage in today’s environment. He shared his goal is for Bristlecone to always operate in a start-up mentality and services-based focus.
What really pleased this Editor was Patel’s articulation of his leadership goal of continuing to move teams to respective skills-based dimensions in areas of supply chain business process and specific technologies vs. that of pure global scale.
His initial top three priorities for the firm in light of the exiting new sense of urgency surrounding digital transformation are to:
- Leverage the talent, creativity and passion the firm has to push teams to be on the top of their game.
- Fostering a laser-sharp customer focus and move at a rapid pace in leveraging agile delivery methodologies to help clients drive rapid returns on investment.
- Continue to simplify the organization, double down on growth drivers, and increasing operational agility in delivering smart investments and capabilities for customers.
Summarizing my impressions, I came away from this interview with a sense that Nirav Patel has a practical approach, that he understands the supply chain management process and decision-making landscape and that he is easy to speak with. He will make a difference.
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