by Peter High, published on Forbes
Flex is a $26 billion provider of global supply chain solutions. Flex has long been in the business of designing, building, shipping, and serving packaged electronic products for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Flex works in collaboration with companies large and small, and the company’s CIO Gus Shahin’s team has been an integral player in creating the tools and the environment to allow innovation to sprout.
Under Shahin’s guidance, the company ahs developed what it refers to as a Pulse Center, which allows the company to monitor its incredibly complex supply chain, and make better decisions based on up-to-the moment data. This work has led to better inventory management, which is a source of tremendous value for a company like Flex.
Shahin has also helped develop an innovation lab “to allow people in the Bay Area who have ideas, to help them bring those ideas to reality as quickly as possible, as cheaply as possible, and in an effective way,” as he notes in this interview. The combination of these creative outlets have lent insights back to Shahin and his team to ensure that the company remains on the cutting edge.
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Peter High: Gus, please take a moment to describe the Pulse Center at your offices in Milpitas, California?
Gus Shahin: Flex is a supply chain sketch to scale company, and basically everything we do is around supply chain. The only way we can make money is if we manage supply chains for customers effectively and in a efficient way. The pulse center is basically flex digitizing, if you will, the supply chain globally. We have about one hundred factories in forty countries. We manufacture products for companies, from the largest OEMs, like Cisco and others, to startups. And we not only built the products for them but we also manage their entire supply chain: we procure on their behalf, we manufacture, we distribute, we repair, and so on. The Pulse Center gives us a real-time view of our supply chain at any given point in time, in real-time, and it tells us all kinds of information. We get alerts immediately – geopolitical alerts, updates from factories, weather alerts, anything that is happening around the world that could potentially disrupt the supply chain or disrupt the material flowing in the supply chain that could affect our – and just by looking at the screens, we see what is going on in real-time and can alter things and move things around so that we do not disrupt the supply chain for our customers. That is basically the description in a nutshell, but there is a lot in there.
High: One of the fascinating things about digital, generally speaking, is the extent to which it requires cross functional collaboration in ways that are new and more substantial than in the past. There is a new kind of collaboration emerging. Can you talk about the role that IT plays in collaborating across the enterprise?