Stephan de Barse is the EVP of o9 Solutions, driving digital transformation with some of the leading Fortune-500 companies. Globally responsible for all Business Development, Digital Marketing, Creative Marketing, o9 Design Lab, Alliances, Sales Activities, and Strategic Networks and shared P&L responsibility for the Global Revenue Number of the Company.
Founded in 2009, o9 is an AI-enabled platform providing solutions for operations and business planning. Its offerings include demand forecasting, commercial planning, supply chain planning, and Integrated Business Planning, among others.
o9 serves clients in many industry verticals, including retail, consumer goods, apparel, consumer electronics, industrial manufacturing, and oil & gas. It boasts large enterprises such as Google, Walmart, Estee Lauder Companies, Bridgestone, Caterpillar, Nike, General Electric, T-Mobile, and Starbucks, among its clients.
Another interesting piece of news is that KKR & Co.’s technology growth fund has taken a minority stake in o9 Solutions Inc., valuing the cloud-based supply-chain management software maker at more than $1 billion. The private-equity firm invested $100 million in o9 Solutions.
Listen to the full discussion here:
Connect with the Guest:
Stephan de Barse: LinkedIn
Some of the highlights from the podcast:
- [11:02] Solving Fortune 500 Supply Chain planning challenges
- [17:39] Scenario planning and the COVID -19 crisis – the past data have become the worst predictor of the future
- [25:23] Use cases – talking about the largest retailer in the US and Canada
- [30:20] Why a digital twin of the supply chain is important
- [40:17] Strengthening the Supply Chain community with AIM10x
- [45:49] o9 unicorn expansion plans & hiring
- [01:59] You have an interesting career story, so I wanted to ask you to make a short introduction of yourself and how you became the EVP for o9 solutions.
- [03:58] Back then I didn’t know o9, but I was very impressed by the technology as well as by the culture and the people that were working for o9.
- [05:15] Maybe you can share a short summary of what o9 stands for, why o9 is different, and what are the challenges that online solves for your clients.
- [06:49] The platform was developed from 2012 to 2013 and was ready for the market at the end of 2013 or early 2014 and initially focused on the US market, but then in 2018, we expanded into Asia as well as into Europe.
- [09:14] The only thing we studied was user adoption. You can have the best platform in the world but if no one is adopting through your platform, you’re in trouble.
- [11:28] How do you go about solving the challenges involving sales, finance, and supply chain? What do you see as structured and unstructured data and how do you manage that?
- [14:07] If the master data is not correct or might not even exist, we just need to find ways to collect that in a smarter way than just putting a lot of manual effort in doing that.
- [18:25] Can you give us a specific example of a client or an entity that has seen excellent results in improving their operations based on your solution?
- [20:18] Upstream supply chain visibility is key. You need to know the capacity and the material availability of your supplier and the supplier of your supplier. Because the moment you don’t have that end-to-end visibility, you’re sort of in the dark.
- [24:25] The other thing that’s important, I think, is that now the speed of decision making has accelerated tremendously.
- [25:34] Can you give us an example of how retailers use the scenario simulation in real time? Has there been an example where they said – maybe we need to stock up on this SKUs based on the scenario?
- [27:39] What a lot of companies are struggling with today is that they don’t have that end-to-end visibility.
- [30:40] What are the first or the most important three priorities your clients should look at when considering building a digital twin for their supply chain?
- [34:37] The technology that we have built into the platform allows us to provide visibility and build a digital twin in an automated fashion.
- [35:02] If a company comes to you and says, “We need something fast because our supply chain is all over the place. The pandemic crisis has a massive impact on our operations. What can we do in the next three weeks or one month?” How would you manage such a request?
- [35:37] What we would do is to ask them, “Where are the pain points today? But also more importantly, where’s the pain point going to be tomorrow?”
- [39:53] Technology is no longer the constraint, the constraints are in the acceptance to change and the speed of innovation in the organization.
- [40:41] I’ve seen you focused a lot on adding value to your network in different ways and a lot of them are focused on education and content. You also have a webinar with an interesting concept called “AIM10X Executive Network.” Please share more about this and what’s the principle behind it?
- [42:01] We want to not only make our webinars tech-centric but we also want to make it business value-centric.
- [45:25] It has been in the news recently that o9 and KKR joined hands and equity invested in the company, and now you are valued at over $1 billion. What is next when it comes to the company? How do you see the next steps?
- [47:54] It’s not about delivering them the solution, it’s about driving the value together with our clients.
- [49:09] How are you hiring for your leadership roles? What is the thought process behind your hiring strategy?
- [50:34] We are not looking for people that like to manage others because that’s not happening at o9. We like people that are able to work together with a group of extremely talented people and like to be rewarded based on the success of initiatives.
- [53:55] How do you personally test or look deeper into how eager or how driven one individual is?
- [56:22] What is the best piece of advice that you could give for a successful career?
- [57:57] You are in the driver’s seat of your career. So be open to adventures, be curious, drive execution, ask for feedback, and learn from others.