It’s all about the platform

A conversation with Michael Farlekas, CEO of E2open

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Today, E2open helps “the world’s biggest supply chains manage and orchestrate their very complex supply chains, from bringing in raw materials, converting them to finished goods, and managing the distribution of those goods to the markets they serve,” is the way Farlekas, who joined the firm in 2015, describes the company. He added that it is “an end-to-end operating platform that allows our customers to see what’s changing across their networks throughout the day.”

There’s that platform word. And, he noted that when he joined the firm in 2015, it’s functionality was focused on high tech manufacturing. “High tech knew us, but the P&G’s of the world did not,” he said. “Now, we have product families across industries, and offers solutions that span the supply chain, including TMS, visibility, global trade management, a full planning suite and channel shaping solutions.” 

We began by talking about what going public means to the future of the company. “It gives us a permanent capital base,” he said. “And, I think it will accelerate some of our growth plans.” Those plans will include more acquisitions, like Amber Road, that complement and build on what the company already does. “Our acquisition criteria is predicated on two things,” he said. “One is mission criticality for our customers and the other is that it is functionality we can integrate into our platform. We don’t want to be a rollup; we want an operating platform.”

What’s driving his customers’ supply chains, and supply chain plans? Farlekas is hearing three themes. “One is agility, or the ability to adapt and react and change based on their changing circumstances,” he said. “Think about companies that have to figure out how to go from 2% online sales to 10% online sales. That’s a big change, and most supply chains weren’t built for that.” The second, he added, “is how do I understand my demand, communicate to my supply network and then have them respond back in real time.” The third is the challenge of how to achieve digital transformation. “When you think about digital transformation, it’s clear that you need data, and you have to bring it together with your applications,” he said. “The challenge is that the data you need isn’t in the four walls of the brand owner. It’s in the systems of your partners. The challenge is to connect all of those systems together.”

That, of course, is the role that supply chain platforms are playing, and will play in the future.

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About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, MMH Executive Editor and SCMR contributor
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Bob Trebilcock is the editorial director for Modern Materials Handling and an editorial advisor to Supply Chain Management Review. He has covered materials handling, technology, logistics, and supply chain topics for nearly 40 years. He is a graduate of Bowling Green State University. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at 603-852-8976.

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