Our Best ICON 2023 Takeaways: A Post-ICON Conversation With Our Industry Experts
It’s been a month since we were in Las Vegas for ICON 2023. During a recent Blue Yonder Live, several of our Industry Strategy leads shared their insights around the event, including key takeaways and what’s next. Here’s a recap of the conversation host Bryant Miller had with Shannon Wu-Lebron, Corporate Vice President, Global Retail Industry Strategy; Hong Mo Yang, Senior Vice President, Global Manufacturing Industry Strategy; and Chirag Modi, Corporate Vice President, Supply Chain Execution Industry Strategy. You can watch their Blue Yonder Live conversation here.
Host: Please share your insights into ICON 2023.
Hong Mo: There was a lot of energy around the General Session, specifically our CEO Duncan Angove’s presentation on where Blue Yonder is headed. There was lots of excitement when he committed to invest $1 billion in product innovations over the next three years. There were so many different sessions led by our customers, partners and Blue Yonder Product teams that had great content. Overall, the event was very energizing.
Chirag: The announcement that excited me the most was around the expansion of our Accenture partnership to serve our customers with supply chains that are resilient, responsive and sustainable. In addition, the reinforcement of what the Snowflake partnership means to Luminate Platform and enhancing our capabilities. Overall, there was a lot of excitement around bringing the best of the industry together to ensure we are serving our customers the right way with the most innovative products out there.
Shannon: One thing that stood out for me was when Duncan spoke about the Good Quest during his keynote. It showed the importance and criticality of what we do, not only to our customers, but to society at large; specifically, how important supply chain and commerce are from a planning and execution perspective. The other memorable event was our Executive Exchange program that allowed industry, C-level executives to interact with their peers, as well as key leaders from across Blue Yonder and our partners.
Host: In your conversations with customers, what are some of their biggest takeaways from ICON?
Hong Mo: I really enjoyed the ICONIC Award winners’ stories that they shared during their mainstage presentation. What they’ve been able to achieve in terms of value and business impact from our Blue Yonder solutions were really inspiring. It was also great to hear how they have been able to leverage our solutions and technology to improve how they meet their customer expectations.
During my conversations with customers, there was lots of excitement with the direction and vision that Duncan laid out, as well as what Wayne Usie, our Chief Strategy Officer, laid out about how we are going to get there. Customers were also curious about how they prepare themselves for what’s next, so we will be having ongoing discussion with them as this will be a journey we take on together.
Shannon: Our vision on the future of the AI-powered and interoperated suite of supply chain execution microservices really resonated with our retail customers, as well as the cognitive planning solutions that we demonstrated. They’re excited about the ability to leverage that cognitive capability and incorporate those internal and external data and signals, including consumer insights, into their supply chain planning and execution processes. Many retailers were eager to partner with us on this journey.
Chirag: One of the main questions I received from customers I spoke with was, “How am I going to keep up with the change?” The industry has been moving in the AI/ML direction for a while but now with even more change coming, they want to ensure they can keep up with the pace of innovation. The best way to do this is for both of us – Blue Yonder and our customers – keeping each other accountable as we go along this journey together. If we want to be an industry leader, we need to keep innovating.
Host: What advice would you give to leaders in manufacturing, retail, and logistics as they start settling back into their day jobs after ICON? What should they start to be focused on?
Chirag: First things first, take a stock of where you are today. Take credit for all the progress you’ve made already in order to be ready for the next innovation cycle. The pace of change is hard to keep up with at times, so it is important to stay in sync with us to know what’s happening in the marketplace and to be able to remain a leader in your industry. Part of the energy behind being a leader is continuing to learn more about what’s happening in the market.
Shannon: We did a good job of inspiring our audience at ICON with our vision of building out the supply chain operating system of the future. Our customers, partners and the broader ecosystem really understood and embraced our vision. I would say as we settle into our daily routines, it’s good to keep that sense of aspiration and the level of energy you felt. Remember that we can take calculated risks and embrace a new way of thinking and doing things.
Hong Mo: The pace of innovation, technology and change is almost a step function right now. If you think back to a year ago, would people be talking about generative AI or copilots? The answer is, “No.” But everybody’s talking about it today and trying to figure out how the technology applies to their business and how they can take advantage and leverage it. For example, how can you take advantage of the technology so you can make decisions faster and with better visibility to what are the different scenario options, and then how do you ensure you’re able to train the organization so people are more conversant about the technology. Understanding how to think about technology and apply it to your business in a way that allows you to gain that competitive advantage is really the challenge for the leaders in supply chain.
Host: Anything else you want to add about ICON and where we’re going from here?
Shannon: I’m reminded of something Dr. Kate Darling said about AI during her keynote. She said the most interesting thing happening with AI and robotics isn’t the technology itself, but rather what happens when we take those automated technologies and put them together with people. And that’s how Blue Yonder is applying the power of AI and machine learning to supply chain – in a responsible way that is guided by a core set of principles, including privacy, security, inclusiveness and transparency. And we look forward to being on that journey and building out the next generation of supply chain platform with our partners and customers.
Hong Mo: If you weren’t at ICON, you definitely missed out on a lot so make sure that you’re there at ICON 2024, May 13-16, 2024, in Dallas.