In early October, Ivanti hosted its first ever virtual event: The IT Leadership Summit. There were a total of 30 presenters, including Forrester analysts, product marketing managers, director-level IT professionals, and executives.

Below is the video and transcript from the session on Supply Chain.

ITLS - Supply Chain

Rob DeStefano: Hello everyone and welcome to this segment of the IT Leadership Summit. We're gonna take a little bit of a different angle in this segment. We are here going to talk about what are some of the trends, kind of a state of the union in the supply chain for mobile productivity market. So we're here with Alex Evans, who is the principal product manager for Ivanti supply chain mobility business unit. Alex, thanks for coming and joining us.

Alex Evans: Pleasure to be here. Thank you.

Rob DeStefano: Great. And folks, I'm Rob DeStefano and I'll be just moderating this section. Appreciate your time to listen. We're gonna take some time over the next, about 40 minutes or so to talk about several items. So we'll start with some of the top challenges that businesses are facing when it comes to their supply chain operations. So we'll talk about delivery accuracy and some of the retail-oriented as well as some of the further up the supply chain challenges that accuracy brings to the table and then labor optimization, which is no stranger to any of us surely.

And then we'll dig into some of the technology trends, some of the cool and exciting things that everybody's got their eyes on in this space. And you know, some of the fun, futuristic things, if you will, that we all read about as we stay on top of what's going on in this market. And then finally we'll really just kind of do a wrap up on where does this all go in the years ahead? You know, what kinds of things do we see happening first? And, you know, some of the, you know, just a recap of it all. So with that, let's dive in. Challenges first, right? Let's talk about the things that may be on your mind, so that you can relate to already and say, ''Hey, you know, yeah, we have some of these same challenges.''

So we did a report in conjunction with industry analysts from VDC that came out the end of last year. And Alex, one of the things that we found in that report, right was the top challenge that many supply chain organizations were facing were issues related to insuring shipments were on time and getting orders shipped faster, right? That there's just an ongoing pressure to get product out the door as fast as possible. So in your experience talking to businesses around the world, surely it's tech-oriented, but what are some of the interesting approaches that they're taking to keep up with this pressure?

Alex Evans: Yeah, you know, I think there's a few things going on that we're seeing. You know, one of the things clearly, is there anything we can do to increase warehouse efficiencies, any tech that customers can use to do that. You know, obviously we have some ourselves in our portfolio, but the things like voice enabling, voice enabling the warehouse, voice enabling the operations making users more productive, whether that's through a new technology that helps them understand the, how they're tracking against KPIs, you know, how they can improve against those KPIs as well as warehouse automation. So, you know, with an increase in robotics, we're starting to see the advent of augmented reality, which is kind of aimed at warehouse efficiency. You know, I think a number of these things are all an attempt to drive on-time shipments.

The other thing that should be mentioned here is that we see our customers trying to put their distribution closer to the consumers, whether that's through optimizing their own processes by using predictive analysis to decide where customers who were likely to order a product are going to be and then moving, you know, or doing an internal transfer to move that...move that content or all those packages closer to the consumer, the projected end consumer, to even just building larger distribution centers in major, major population hubs.

Rob DeStefano: That's an interesting point. In fact, I'm just seeing an article recently about a major retailer trying to get a distribution center set up near a major hub, right? And they were looking at the southern California market here in the states, right? And saying, hey, you know, what, if we, you know, by building a distribution center there and being able to ship product to customer directly, right, wholesale to consumer, they were looking at a potential customer consumer market of $50 million consumers within a 50 mile radius, right, of their distribution center down there. So it's an interesting change.

That brings me to the next question on this piece, right? Obviously a lot of the pressure, the retailers see, in terms of delivering faster is, getting product into the hands of a consumer faster. You mentioned some technologies and some cool other ways that further up the supply chain, from a manufacturer, say, to a distribution center, can get a product down the supply chain a little faster. Can you touch on a couple of those a little bit more? You mentioned voice.

Alex Evans: Yep, yep. So, you know, voice is one way...You know, as we look at our customers we've been dealing with customers with host connectivity products for a long time. And the one thing that all those customers and many of those customers have in common is that worker efficiency is king. And so if they can drive, if you look at the scale of some of the businesses that we deal with, if they can drive 5% performance improvement in their workforce that has a major, major impact on their bottom line. It has a major, major impact on their ability to, you know, increase shipments.

And the other benefit of voice is it also usually helps increase accuracy, so fewer mis-picks, fewer returns, you know, all which drive towards warehouse efficiency and more on-time shipments. So, you know, typically voice, if you implement voice, you can usually see, you know, at least a 10% productivity improvement. Often it's a lot, lot more. So we've seen in the a big investment in voice over the last few years and predict that will continue to grow.

The other thing that I mentioned, I think, is predictive analysis of buyer behavior. I think that has a major impact that, you know, customers, large distribution networks, what we see is that customers proactively, our customers are proactively moving the product closer to where they predict the users will be. So for example, now we're approaching winter time here, the purchases of sandals as an example, is gonna go down in most of the, you know, most of the Midwest, but there will still be sandal purchases where, where they're still warm, so California, Florida. And so what we see is that our customers proactively move large amounts of seasonal products to places where customers are still likely gonna be buying them.

Rob DeStefano: Interesting. Very cool stuff. It makes a lot of sense too. So when you talked about some of the items just there, you touched on a couple of points that relate to customer experience, right? Taking a look specifically at retail right now, we're all consumers, right? We can appreciate the customer service is all about. What are some of the things you hear from our retail customers when they talk about improving the customer experience?

Alex Evans: Yeah. So with this particular example in mind that the BOPIS, buy online, pickup in store, obviously it's, you know, we see a lot of that increasing in the grocery segment. Customers can purchase what they want online, it might be a, you know, a repeat order, they might have a specific need, they purchase online and then pick up often same day, it might be next day, pick it up in the store. From a retail experience, you know, the benefit our customers, they're retailers in this example, is that they're getting the customers into the store, and often those customers are going to purchase something else. So the total value of the customer increases for that transaction. Customers don't have to...the end customers, you don't have to, you know, don't spend lots of time grocery shopping. They can do it when they have spare moments and as they get up in the morning for example. And so, you know, the overall happiness in the entire chain increases.

Rob DeStefano: Makes a lot of sense. So I'm just gonna share a couple of stats and then I'd like to get your take on a couple of things related to it. So recently, one of the enterprise systems partners of ours, JDA did a voice of the customer survey. They do every couple of years. And in their latest edition of it, right, not only was the buy online pickup in store up significantly from their prior survey, which was done in 2015, they were up about 44% in this latest survey. But you touched on a couple of things respondents in that survey indicated that about 40% of them would sometimes make an additional purchase while at the store. So it makes sense, right? I'm going into a store to pick up my order, but then while I'm there I remember, Oh, you know what, while I'm here, I oughta grab something else that kind of makes sense.

But some of the other interesting things that came out of that that are good for retailers to know, why the buy online pickup in store service experience works is that, there's a significant number of consumers who don't wanna have home delivery, right? Maybe it's because they're not home to receive it. They don't want it left on their front, on their front doorstep, right? Significant number as in like 40%, right? And then a third of the respondents in that survey also said that they wanted the product faster than waiting for it to be shipped. So even, you know, even with the availability of overnight and two day shipping, right, from a significant number of businesses, right, that wasn't fast enough for some. And so it seems that there is that interest in, hey, I'm gonna order it now, and then I'm passing the store on the way home, let's say, I'm just gonna pick it up with me on my way home, right? So in that context, right, of being able to have the buy online, pickup in store experience, right, how does that tie back to Ivanti and our supply chain business? What types of things would we be able to offer to a retailer in terms do we fit into that buy online, pickup in store operation with our products?

Alex Evans: Yeah. So you know, probably some of the same answers again, but wait to increase efficiency of the staff. You know, one of the ways that we do that is again, it's through voice. Voice enabling processes, if you know, these are high, high intensity tasks, you know, you've got, the employees pushing carts around in the store, often the products very close together. So there's little time for movements in between the picks. And so a voice-directed task would increase efficiency, you know, well in these examples. They'er told where to go, what to pick, how much quantity, they can use two hands to do it, especially when they're weighing produce for example. So there's no need to keep picking up and putting down, a scan gun or device with a screen. Everything is driven by audio. So, you know, between that and between some of our, you know, some of our modernization practices that we do, task modernization practices. You know, that's how we kind of play in this area.

Rob DeStefano: That's cool. Yeah. One final thought on this, right? Another item in that survey, it ties directly into this stuff you're talking about, right? If there was a way to improve the buy online, pick up in store experience, right? Nearly a quarter of the respondents said that the one thing that was a challenge with staff being frustrated, they couldn't find an order in the system, or that it took too long to pick. So utilizing technology like the products from Ivanti that you mentioned, right, would enable them to not only deliver that order faster, right, which is the speed piece, but also from a customer experience perspective, you got to be accurate. So being able to have a system that makes sure that that accuracy is up, is only gonna provide a better customer experience there.

Very cool. So now moving onto the flip side of that, it's getting more and more attention in the retail market, right? Is this concept called BORIS, and I'm not talking local 12 Bullwinkle Boris, right? Modern day BORIS, buy online return in store. So I order a product from an online retailer, but then it doesn't fit or it shipped incorrectly, it shipped broken. being able to return it back to their local retail outlet. What are the opportunities for a retailer who has a good BORIS customer experience?

Alex Evans: Yeah. I actually did this for the first time myself recently. I bought something online. It was not what I was expecting when it arrived and I took it back to it to a local store. You know, I think often the same example as the same reason as the previous example, which is, you know, if you can get customers into the store, you have a likelihood of possibly making an additional purchase, you know, rectifying whatever the situation was immediately, you know. And then in an online example, as a consumer, I have to ship the product back, it has to be received, whatever my return reason was has to be validated, and then I have to wait again for a replacement. In a BORIS example. I can, you know, may be receive a replacement immediately. And again, making additional purchases while I'm at it.

The other thing is, from the retailer perspective, the time to validate the reason for that return is obviously reduced, to where they can see if the product is damaged, if it...why it didn't meet expectations. So that feedback is, you know, fed back into the system immediately. It may be that they're able to restock a locally, right? So meaning that they can bring that product into stock and resell locally rather than having to go through the cost of a return shipment, and a replacement shipment. So in essence for that transaction, you may well have reduced the overall cost. So all of those I think, you know, a, customer experience and, b, you know, cost savings and, c, you know, just overall efficiency, three reasons why BORIS can be good for our customers.

Rob DeStefano: So, and use cases like return replenishment, restocking types of things also make a know, being able to bring those in for those, for those retail outlets, right, now I can easily hand off a return if it's, as long as it's not damaged, back to the store shelf, right? Being able to take care of that stuff quickly?

Alex Evans: Yep.

Rob DeStefano: Cool. Good stuff. Now, shifting gears. We've talked now about some of the pressures, right, from down the supply chain, if you will, to a retailer or back from down the supply chain up...further up the to a distribution center or manufacturer. Here's something every one of them can relate to, right? Is everyone can relate to the workforce availability. There's been plenty in the news here in the states and with the economies around the world that thankfully the markets are doing well in a large number of countries around the world, right? And so availability of workforce talent for supply chain positions, right, is getting more and more scarce. Speaking purely, you know, and forgive me, international audience, right, from a position here in the United States, right? Unemployment, thankfully is at a really low number. And there's more positions open that frankly, we have available workforce to fill.

And so there's two angles to this that in our research with the project we did with VDC research that I mentioned earlier, right? It's an initiative to get the most out of the employees we have, right? To get the most productivity out of each worker. But it's also the number three pressure is to control labor costs, right? So behind delivering faster and order accuracy, controlling the cost of labor, right, is the number three pressure for supply chain businesses. So if labor optimization, right, if we just frame that out as getting the most out of the workers, right? How does that start? How do you start getting more out of a worker from the time you hire them?

Alex Evans: Yeah. So employee satisfaction plays a large role in that. So some of that's technology based, some of that is environmental-based. You know, it's interesting and you bring that up, obviously is timely. We're approaching the holiday season, I saw a report recently target looking to hire 100 plus thousand workers, temporary staff through the holiday season and we know that some of our other large customers, hire a similar amount, if not more. That's a lot of talent that has to be brought in and trained. And training to the point where, you know, the users, the pickers or whoever are accurate and they're efficient, can take a long time. In the three month holiday season if it takes your users six weeks to become what you would call of average efficiency, there's obviously room for improvement. So if you can decrease training times, if you can get to, you know, average productivity, if you will, at a quicker rate. If you can increase average productivity for the users so that they're, you know, they're meeting their performance indicators and they're getting their performance bonuses. They're getting their, you know, not just holiday bonuses. All of that drives towards making a faster workforce. Sorry, a happier workforce.

Anything else that you can do, again, things like voice makes users quicker. It makes them more efficient faster, reduces training times, modernizing the workforce. It's like modernizing the tasks makes users faster, reduces training times. And I think as we're looking at the moment, some of the other technology trends that are happening in the supply chain also helped to make users more efficient.

Rob DeStefano: It makes a lot of sense, right? I mean, basically if you can hire a worker today and you can have them up to speed, you know, in a day or two with using your picking application to pick one, right? Or if you can have them up to speed, you know, and even, you know, in even less than a day, right? Start in the morning and by the end of the first day they're starting to rock and roll. They're hitting the ground running. You mentioned the timetable of having it take several weeks. If I have a seasonal worker, in the example you gave, who's coming in October and is only gonna work until, let's say, mid January if they're staying on through the return season.

I've looked at what point, you know, a significant percentage of that hire's time, simply training them for a job that they're going to leave knowingly in a little over three months. So it makes a lot of sense to be able to shorten that learning curve in any way you can. So, interesting. On the standpoint, you mentioned technology being a big play in that, right? We had a case study earlier this year, right? Where one of the things we learned from...the customer was Dorman products, right, they're a parts supplier in the auto industry, to retail outlets I should advise right there, in the aftermarket, if you will. They mentioned, among the benefits and their experience, right? They deployed several of our products, right? They saw the investment in top technologies as something that's going to draw the top talent, right? And then in essence their description was, hey, you know, the talent's gonna go where they can make the most money.

You mentioned, right, that there's, you know, there's these goals that they're targeting, you know, they have these targets to meet, right? Whether it's, you know, how many picks can I make per day or per week, right? How many shipments can I get out the door, right? If the talent finds a technology is going to be that lever that's gonna give them their best opportunity to make money, even a seasonal worker, right? You know, were looking to, you know, cash and if they can, during the pre-holiday season, right? They're gonna wanna to go where they can make the most money and it makes some sense, right? So things like gamification, right? A leaderboard, right, in the warehouse that shows how, you know, who's picking the most, right? Those types of things can pay big dividends for the company too, right, because it's a motivator. That's interesting.

So if we segue from that, right, and say, okay, you know, technology can be a draw for attracting the best and keeping the best talent, right? What are some of the technology trends that, you know, that businesses should be looking at from the standpoint of, you know, their supply chain operations? And the first one I'd like us to dive into is, and frankly it's because it's one we here at Ivanti are, you know, deeply immersed in, particularly in our supply chain business, right, is the move to Android as an operating system for mobile deployments across the company. And then, you know, with a supply chain focus on this, I'll ask Alex, what are some of the big reasons, right? The big exciting opportunities for a business. What are the things that are really exciting them about the move to Android? I mean, sure there's the...there's, you know, there's things like obsolescence of legacy operating systems and things like that, but from a eyeopening, hey, this could bring on, you know, even more great opportunities for us as a business. What are some of the things that you're hearing from customers that they're excited about there?

Alex Evans: Yeah, so, you know, know, Android is obviously the new and exciting thing in the supply chain market. We're undergoing a wholesale transition right now. It's been going on for a few years, you know, let's say five years arguably. But it had been kind of slow for awhile, and now we're really, really starting to see a pickup in the Android adoption. Some of that's because the ecosystem is maturing, you know, the tools available from the device manufacturers are now at a point where, you know, they're much more ready for the markets. The devices are, and the OS options are more rugged market ready. So that's where we're seeing that transition. The opportunity that it provides for lots of customers is, the devices are a lot more powerful then they ever used to be. The OS is much more accessible than the older OS ever used to be.

Now, if we look at the previous slide that we had around technology and the workforce, Android is a familiar operating system for the most of the workforce, whereas, you know, the old operating system, windows mobile certainly wasn't. Most users never ever seen one if they've never stepped foot in a warehouse before. So you know, all of those things drive our customers towards looking at how they can use that technology in combination with other technologies to better their operations, right? Android is obviously a UI-driven interface. The warehouse is often a green screen telnet kind of user interface, and so customers are looking at ways that they can improve that experience to drive worker acceptance, to drive efficiencies.

And the other thing I mentioned already was kind of ecosystem, but the other part of the ecosystem that's important is the developer ecosystem. There's a lot of developers out on the...out there already that understand mobile app development that customers can leverage to drive some experiences in-house.

Rob DeStefano: Right on. So there's a quote here, I won't read it verbatim for the audience. All right, but IDC published this report, right, with their worldwide rugged mobile device forecast for the next several years, and a couple of things that had come out of there that are really interesting, right, that had been reported in the news from this publication, right? Prediction that Android takes the lead really, in 2019. So you've mentioned it's been a couple of years coming, right? But the momentum has really started to accelerate and, not only they say in 2019 is really the year where it takes the lead in terms of running away with the OS wagon in rugged mobility, but they have Android at a 23% compound annual growth rate at this point. I mean, which is really impressive to show a shift in this market. So obviously making the move to Android, right, requires some investment. You're likely buying some new devices, right? What are some of the ways that a company can make that move without breaking the bank, right? How can they save money elsewhere in making the investment something easier for them to do as they move to Android?

Alex Evans: So like I said the entire ecosystem has matured, and so the tools that are available now have improved to the point where, you know, bring it device in-house, getting it staged, getting apps pushed to it. It's a lot easier to do, you know, we can work on some of those tools ourselves to allow customers to migrate from the legacy device with the green screen experience to the new device with a green screen experience in a matter of minutes. But additionally, using it again, to driving productivity, we also have tools that can help a customer go from the legacy device and the green screen experience to the modern device with a completely modern HTML UI, you know, which then talks again to user acceptance, you know, warehouse efficiencies, fewer errors, you know, increased accuracy, those kind of things. So that's how they can offset some of the costs by increasing efficiencies, increase your warehouse efficiency.

Rob DeStefano: Sure, so it makes sense. So you mentioned a couple of areas where it goes back to some of the things we talked about earlier, but also as another means, right? Another part of the way that, hey, if I'm from a talent supply perspective, right, talking top technologies, if I can understand the app as I get in the door, I'm gonna be able to use it faster, right? And be able to navigate it faster because it's familiar, right? Makes some sense there too. Okay. So moving from Android, right? And the mobile side of the technology story. Let's take a look at...on the web based systems are another trend that we hear a lot about, right? Companies are moving to a lot of web-based systems. Tell me a little bit about that. Tell me what they're moving from, why they're looking at web-based systems and what's kind of the promise of the future that they're looking to get to by making that move?

Alex Evans: Yep. There's a few reasons, one of them is the move to Android. The move to Android has caused, you know, a number of our customers or customers in general to look at the experience on a mobile device and how they can improve that. The majority of the supply chain today runs on the, you know, telnet application green screen. It's not necessarily user-friendly. And so as customers move to a modern device, they're looking at ways that they can modernize that user experience and web is one of the ways that they can do that. The other reason for it is the same answer as before, that the shift from telnet to web increases the, the ecosystem or the pool of developers and talent that they can pull from. There's few telnet developers in the marketplace. There are plenty of web developers in the marketplace for customizations of the experience, but those are only just two of the differences.

You know, one of the other reasons is reducing overall costs. You know, the technologies available to run web-based applications, you know, plentiful and offers more choice to customers. The other reason is wanting to connect or interconnect systems. You know, and one of the exciting trends that's happening right now in the marketplace that we're hearing a lot about, you know, lots of, you heard about cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is based on a technology called blockchain, and blockchain can significantly change the supply chain and doing something with web technologies makes, you know, it probably makes a customer more ready in the future adopt some kind of blockchain technology. So I guess that all of those things are kind of driving some of the increase in web based systems that we're seeing out in the marketplace right now.

Rob DeStefano: So there's a big correlation you're saying between, you know, being able to have these different enterprise systems be connected, right, from a digital supply chain perspective and basically giving that as a foundation for future blockchain preparedness, if you will.

Alex Evans: Yep. Absolutely.

Rob DeStefano: Okay, interesting. That's cool. Cool. Yeah, that's a definitely a...let's face it, right, when we look at industry news, there's something about blockchain just about every day in some form or another as cryptocurrency as you mentioned, right, or just the digital supply chain story in general. So, all right, so now if we were to take a look, shift gears from a software world into the physical world. Internet of things, right, and the industrial internet of things, right, and drones, right? We all think of these things that, you know, if you had to explain to somebody who was unfamiliar with the supply chain, what are we talking about here when we talk about drones in a use case, right? We all talk about this future time where the easiest way to describe it is this future time where there's little flying helicopters, right, zooming down your street delivering packages to your door, right? What's really...what's realistic, what's more likely that we're going to see from drones in the near term and, you know, is this really could potentially be where we're going?

Alex Evans: Yeah, I guess we've all seen the hype, you know, lots of news sites have been covering it as Amazon has done that testing. The reality is that we're more likely to see drones inside the warehouse than in our streets. You know, I guess there's lots of safety and compliance and governance concerns around using drones out in the wild but, you know, absolutely inside the warehouses. As we look at some of the earlier conversations we had around warehouse efficiency, automation, all of those things, I think that drones have a place to play there. It's not like they're gonna be mass deployed this year, next year or maybe even the year after. But if we're looking to five, 10 years out, you know, I think that we'll definitely see a proliferation of drones.

Rob DeStefano: Yeah. And it's interesting too to the point you described, right, of the reality of more likely being inside the four walls. It was a major global retailer, did a test with drones in their warehouse aisles, right, over the last year with basically with sensors to notify them where in their aisles, right, an item was in a near stock-out condition, right? Being able to do that in the near term is very interesting, right? Because especially when you have the situation of a labor shortage, right, this type of technology could help us all in the near term by, you know, helping be a stopgap, right, for where there may not be a physical person able to be able to do that walk-through of every spot in every aisle. This can free the person to be able to do something that's a higher powered task, if you will. And be able to do those types of use cases in the near term. So certainly cool technology. Right. Beyond, you know, drones and beyond, right? What are the types of technologies that you're seeing, what types of things are driving businesses to look at these technologies from what you're hearing?

Alex Evans: Yeah, you know, I think you hit on one of them, which is labor shortage. If you can't get bodies in the warehouse, you need to figure out some other way to move product around or to help with all of the processes. And so drones is one of those things. You know, other kind of automation technologies are an additional one, anything that increases human work proficiency third, and IoT. You know, IoT on the side, IoT plays a part in that as well as you can, you know, better monitor all of the things in the warehouse, whether that's your conveyor systems, whether that's your doors, whether that's your...the drones or the robots or the, you know, the automated shelves themselves. If you can better monitor those to predict outages, to I guess, proactively prevent outages with fewer staff. All of those things drive us towards a more efficient warehouse and you know, and I guess, in effect a more efficient supply chain

Rob DeStefano: Makes a lot of sense. That's very true. Very true. So you mentioned a couple of things there that segue nicely into the next question I had, right? The next trend that everybody's hearing about, right, there's, as part of this initiative, right, there's artificial intelligence, augmented reality robots, right? With all this futuristic stuff no longer being the stuff of sci-fi films, right? We always used to talk and describe Google Glass for example, right, as, oh, you're going to see you like the Terminator did in the movie, right? With all these cool things that potentially are gonna be more and more visible in our supply chain operations, where do the customers have their eyes from, you know, from the customers you've spoken with, right? What do they have their eyes on most and what's most likely to come into the mainstream first?

Alex Evans: I don't know much about...I guess, I don't predict us seeing artificial intelligent robots necessarily, at least not in the space, 1999 or lost in space kind of sense. But, you know, certainly robots in the warehouse, it's coming. Some customers already have already deployed it. We know that the...artificial intelligence I think plays a role in predictive analysis. You know, I've mentioned that a little while ago around, you know, being able to move predictively move product closer to where the projected consumer is going to be to increase efficiency in your own supply chain. Additionally, you know, as we spoke about on last slide, IoT, understanding and predicting where you may have an outage and addressing it before it actually happens, you know, that's one place where I think a lot of our customers are focusing. And that might be things like, you know, understanding cycle counts on batteries or charge cycles on batteries to understand where you may have a battery outage during peak.

Being able to understand that, you know, this particular sensor reading this particular value is indicative of some kind of outage coming in the future. Being able to understand the printer population for example. To know that you've got, you know, each printer or a particular printer had printed, you know, so many feet of labels. That's indicative of a outage coming up soon. If more of those that you can understand before they actually happen, the few outages and the fewer kind of bottlenecks you'll introduce into your supply chain. And AI and, you know, putting AI and machine learning in place to kind of better understand and make those predictions is, you know, is one of those things we see our customers looking at.

Rob DeStefano: Yeah, some very valid points there. I mean, that preventative maintenance piece makes a lot of sense, right? If I can get an alert before something breaks to be able to fix it, I minimize that downtime, right? That's definitely a use case that makes sense. And to the data that is on the screen here, right, from Juniper Research, right, obviously supply chain organizations are, you know, and this just is a stat that's focused more so on our retail customers, right? But there's significant investment in AI across the board here and I think some of those use cases you're describing and make a lot of sense. Another one we know about as well, right, is...You know, there's currently in place some use cases around CRM, right? Being able to connect with the customer in store and have the intelligence know when you're in store and start reaching out to you on your smartphone when you walk in, hey, we see you're here, here's some incentives while you're here, right?

And that's, you know, that helps change the store experience, right, from just the product distribution point to a, you know, a means for customer engagement. So there's some cool things happening there. Cobots are a term we're seeing a lot as well, right? And we've seen some of this stuff. In fact being at the, at the Modex show in Atlanta earlier this year, and one of the examples of that I saw was robotic shelving, right? And you know, the idea of Cobots is the collaboration between the robot and the person, right? So now the worker in the warehouse, right? But having the shelving unit to be able to bring a tote to the worker, to help make the task a, you know, a quicker turn, right? And then, you know, some of the data that's gonna come from all of this, right, is the being able to have the insights to improve the processes throughout the supply chain. So a lot of exciting stuff happening there. So very cool. Some exciting stuff for sure on the technology side.

So if we were to wrap this all up in just these last couple of minutes, right? So where does this really all take us? Right? So we've talked about a variety of things. We've talked about some of the common challenges that I'm sure our audience can relate to. We talked about some of the technology trends that we're all probably following in one form or another and trying to figure out, hey, where does this fit into my operations? Where am I going to get the best improvements for my business and when am I gonna be able to get them, right? Where does this...what are the implications some of these trends and tech have on the supply chain and retail business from your perspective?

Alex Evans: I definitely think that we're in an exciting time right now. There's a lot of change. It seems like the rate of change is probably increasing over what it ever was before. I guess all of the different options available to a customer in the choice of what they do in their warehouse. So, it's gonna depend on what technology customer chooses. You know, we've mentioned a few augmenting reality, voice directed, we've talked about warehouse automation, robots, robotic shelves, drones. You know, I think what it does is change the task of the people in the warehouse, you know, maybe they're not gonna be picking anymore, but instead maybe they're monitoring a fleet of drones or maintaining a fleet of drones or they're moving from a warehouse job to a more skilled job manufacturing drones as an example. You know, I think basically what it does is it raises all boats, if you will.

Rob DeStefano: Yeah. Yeah. So more, higher value positions for the human worker, to be able to do things. So, you know, doing more of the, the oversight of QA, quality assurance, being able to do, like you mentioned some of the maintenance and the, and the manufacturing frankly, or the technology that is doing those more transactional tasks if you will, right? Some very, some very cool stuff. So I guess before we wrap up, I just wanna throw it out there, at any other last comments for our audience to keep in mind as they go?

Alex Evans: I'll only say, you know, absolutely the rates of change, like I said, is increasing. There are some choices to be made in the short term around mobile device direction and customers can't afford to sit on the fence anymore. You know, the choice is being forced upon them. And so I think our customers need to be aware of that shift in the device...primarily the device OS choice and be ready for that change and to understand the implications of their processes and also understand the opportunities that that change gives them, how they can better improve their own, you know, their own processes and become more efficient. So like I said, I think it's an exciting time and the rates of change and the options available has definitely increased. So, you know, it's a very dynamic market to be in right now.

Rob DeStefano: It certainly is. I agree. And there's not a day that goes by, right, where we're not seeing some interesting news from...whether it's in the logistics side, right, up to the retailer and certainly as we're heading into the holiday shopping season, there's gonna be a whole lot more of that on a daily basis we're gonna be following, so...Alex, thank you again for spending the time with us today. Thank you to our audience for spending this time with us as well. For those who'd like to stay in the loop on what is coming and get our thoughts on it, you can see Alex's contact information as well as my own on the screen if you have questions. And follow us on Twitter if that's your bag to follow us on social media and see what we're watching. So thanks again for everybody tuning in. Alex, thanks again for joining.

Alex Evans: Pleasure. Thank you.

Rob DeStefano: All right. And we'll speak to everybody soon. Thanks. Take care.