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Next Generation Data Solutions

Food Chain Magazine

Young Black male agroengineer in workwear looking at green spinach seedlings
Young African male agroengineer in protective workwear looking at green spinach seedlings and touching leaf while standing in aisle by shelf

Mark Holmes, Senior Advisor for Global Supply Chain, InterSystems shares strategies to drive organisational efficiencies.

Could you tell me about your career history, and how you came to be at InterSystems?

I have a unique 25-year career history in supply chain and logistics, working with or within FMCG and manufacturing companies and in supply chain consultancy. My experience also encompasses 3PL and 4PL logistics where I led integrated business units focused on distribution, transportation, and freight forwarding.

It was from there that I migrated into software – developing solutions for the supply chain industry and running a supply chain practise for a global systems integrator.

The diversity in my experience in these sectors led me to InterSystems, where my role has been to influence product development and grow and strengthen the supply chain footprint globally – which is where food and beverage comes into play.

Can you give some detail around your role as Senior Advisor for Global Supply Chain? Which part of your role do you enjoy most and why?

I help companies optimise their supply chains through better decision-making, using automation to enable significant improvements in sales, reduce operational costs and achieve workforce and production efficiencies. It’s all about the data; this is where I love making a difference for our clients.

Large companies may have 35 different enterprise systems and even more applications where data is siloed. This poses the question: how do these companies obtain complete and accurate visibility of data to plan effectively and remain agile during the most demanding peaks and disruptions in the supply chain? That’s where InterSystems comes in.

At InterSystems, I have a global responsibility. This means there are many aspects to my role, but one of the most personally fulfilling is having the vision and thought leadership to help F&B companies (among others). I can sometimes see solutions to problems that they haven’t seen yet, such as technology they don’t know how to implement or approach. I’ve been looking at the repackaging sector for example, where companies are struggling with inventory and production optimisation. By providing product positioning that considers inventory availability throughout the network -- labour transportation, routing capacity – F&B businesses can recognize the most optimal production repacking plans. Not only does this has a positive impact on supply and demand plan accuracy, but also on staffing efficiencies and sustainability improvements.

Can you sum up InterSystems and its operations, particularly in terms of the F&B sector?

InterSystems is a global leader in data management, and we’re privately held with no private equity investment or debt, so we focus entirely on our customers’ success. We’ve been optimising data for more than 45 years in over 80 countries, and we bring together all the vastly diverse types of data you need in a modern supply chain. We utilise a smart data fabric architecture to normalise and harmonise data in real-time to produce a trusted and accurate source of insight for real-time intelligent decision-making. By using our smart data fabric complete with advanced analytics and decision-making capabilities, F&B supply chains can stay competitive the face of constant, rapid change.

Our supply chain specific product, InterSystems Supply Chain Orchestrator™, is a decision intelligence data platform that powers supply chain ecosystems with four embedded technologies. Acting as one capability within one product, these four technologies—multi-model DBMS, interoperability, multi-workload DBMS, and advanced analytics—accelerate time to value and lower total cost of ownership. Most of our competitors, if not all, need 5+ products to do what we do with just one.

With Supply Chain Orchestrator, one of the world’s largest food retailer consortiums with over 1500 stores has achieved a unified and accurate end to end view of sales, inventory, orders and deliveries at scale. Utilising our technology, they have achieved streamlined and optimised end to end fulfilment processes from ERP through POS. Additionally, they have significantly improved OSA, automated optimised replenishment via real-time sensing of demand shift using ML, and have increased revenue as a result.

What would you say are the challenges facing the F&B sector, and what strategies do organisations need to ensure are in place to tackle them?

F&B businesses have limited visibility of inventory, their application and system tools assume an unconstrained environment for planning optimisation and their processes are simply too manual and not integrated. As a result, they cannot adapt to sudden changes in demand or redirect inventory from multiple locations proactively. What’s the effect of that? It results in costly sub-optimal production runs, and poor levels of quality freshness, operating costs, and fulfilment – especially in repackaging.

This is all happening in conjunction with a workforce crisis and what’s even worse is that some organisations are still reliant on spreadsheets. They simply do not have the supply chain visibility they need to remain agile so automating and optimising production planning processes is key.

Looking ahead, what do you think is next for the food and beverage industry?

The future of the F&B industry undoubtedly surrounded by the use of GenAI to provide prescriptive insights and to enable optimised decision making for LOB. This human assisted decision-making will allow LOB to manage disruptions with confidence so they will be able to make well-informed, highly accurate decisions. Analytics and decision intelligence data platforms will be game-changing for all types of companies, especially F&B companies. I truly believe using InterSystems Supply Chain Orchestrator is so beneficial in achieving prescriptive insights. The ability to harmonise and normalise disparate data sources anywhere in the supply chain, accurately and in real-time with intelligent processes through interoperability and embedded AI and ML capability is truly unmatched.

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