Thoughts from Logichem 2008 in Atlanta

Last week, Microsoft sponsored LogiChem 2008 in Atlanta.  Enrique Andaluz and Greg Walker represented our team, and I asked Enrique to give me his thoughts on the conference to share with the community...



We had a great couple of days exchanging knowledge with chemical supply chain practitioners at LogiChem 2008.  In previous years, the practitioners shared their experience and advice on building stronger and more resilient supply chains as lessons learned after hurricane Katrina hit the US in 2005. 

Only a few weeks ago, hurricane Ike reminded the community about the harmful and long-lasting effects nature can impose on the business.  From my perspective, it was very important to hear from chemical leaders about the impact that Ike caused and how they coped with it before, during and after the hurricane passed. 

While the damage was significant in many aspects, I was happy to hear that most companies were not reporting major losses as compared to 2005.  They credited new capabilities in their business including the speed of gaining consensus (a collaborative process) and the faster awareness of the potential risks (simultaneous visibility over single facts) across the people that needed to take immediate actions.

In most cases, people referred to technology-based capabilities rather than new techniques in their processes.  Being a former practitioner who claims to understand technology, I was encouraged by the comments our customers made about technology helping them predict, preempt, manage and continue running profitable operations.

Examples of this included the power of creating visibility and enhancing collaboration in their businesses and across their extended value network.  While natural disasters demand immediate action where visibility and collaboration play a key role, companies are finding that visibility and collaboration play an important role even during less stressed conditions.  They offer the opportunity to plan, react, test, fail, and then succeed.  They also offer the ability to equip the decision-making process with performance metrics and real-time data to create high quality interactions for everyone.

Listening to the thoughts of our customers and digesting the presentations during the conference have me convinced more than ever that technology provides that quantum leap chemical companies need to move their business to the next level. 

Some of the customers had a chance to visit our booth for extended conversations and were pleased when they understood the way in which Microsoft can help reduce cost in the supply chain and logistics operations and how we help end-users increase their visibility and collaboration in their day to day activities. 

What excited them the most was the way in which end users can build “the ideal working space” - surfacing data from disparate systems into simplified “day in the life of” business workflows where we address operational issues leveraging their existing technology landscape. 

I look forward to many more of those conversations and will benefit from hearing about your operational challenges so we can trigger ideas for solutions together.