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Jean-Baptiste Clouard, Flowlity: “for criminals, targeting supply chains is a high-risk, high-reward situation ”

By exploiting vulnerabilities within the company’s suppliers and partners, criminals are able to cause disruption beyond their intended targets.

With ransomware and other cyberattacks hitting enterprises on a daily basis, critical infrastructure companies rush to secure their processes with the latest security solution. However, cybersecurity measures are not the only thing organizations should keep up with – to continue successfully delivering products, companies need to stay vigilant and be able to adapt to the ever-changing market.

To discuss the importance of innovation in the supply chain landscape, today we invited Jean-Baptiste Clouard, the CEO of Flowlity – a company on a mission to revolutionize supply chain management by connecting suppliers and customers with the power of AI technology.

How did Flowlity come about? What has your journey been like?

I have been working in the corporate world, specifically in the supply chain industry, for quite some time now. But there was always a small voice in my head that wanted me to build something of my own. That voice grew with time, and I realized that I wanted to be an entrepreneur! The market is volatile, and things are changing quicker than we could anticipate, especially in the supply chain world. The pandemic is the biggest example in front of us. I knew there was a great potential to transform the supply chain business. Just I could not entirely figure out how I could make my vision a reality. Fortunately, that was the exact moment when I met Karim for the first time. Karim, my co-founder, and I met at the Entrepreneur First program and immediately clicked. He was an absolute delight to talk to. We talked for hours and realized that our vision to create something transformative was in sync. We could see in each other that we collectively can build an AI-equipped platform that will indeed reinvent the supply chains globally. It was the start of a beautiful journey. We spent months in R&D and then successfully created Flowlity. Since then, we have never looked back. We are growing exponentially, and we do not plan to stop.

Can you introduce us to your Flowlity solution? What technology do you use to make managing the supply chain easier?

While COVID may have demonstrated the importance of supply chain planning to manufacturers and the general public worldwide, it has also highlighted a host of problems. Including raw materials shortages and increasing lead times. In a modern world becoming ever more volatile and complex, traditional JIT (Just in time) models are not robust enough to handle frequent supply chain disruptions.

Around $2 trillion is lost every year due to overstocking or shortages. A significant portion is caused by obsolete forecasting and planning methods. Intending to effectively respond to the challenges of an ever more globalized economy (broader product ranges, scarce resources, increased consumer demand), Flowlity has come to the fold with a new planning and stock optimization methodology called “Resilient Planning”. The solution allows supply chain planners to capture market volatility and react to disruptions in an agile and effective way. Armed with its innovative AI-based tool, Flowlity is already working with several companies in the manufacturing and retail sectors, such as Saint-Gobain, Miba, and Bosch. For La Redoute, their software has already led to an inventory reduction of 40%, while e-commerce retailer Camif has reduced stock shortages by 10%.

What are the most serious problems that arise when proper supply chain data management systems are not in place?

Good question! When there is no proper data management, the demand forecast and inventory management are inaccurate. This results in a drastic shortage or overstock of specific inventories, making a business lose money. Therefore, it is critical to address this problem. For example, one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted. According to USDA Economic Research Service estimates, 31% of this loss occurs at the retailer or consumer level. Another 40% occurs further up the supply chain, which means that you can solve almost 40% of the problem by optimizing your supply chain.

With AI and new technologies, we can imagine a world where you can order and store the correct order with complete visibility of your inventories. So decrease in waste and cost.

How did the recent global events affect your field of work? Were there any new features added to your services as a result?

We launched our solution amidst the pandemic. Hence, the health crisis plays a significant role in the market for us. We were prone to capturing uncertainty in the planning processes. For our potential customers, the software was not the priority, but the results were. Our clients expected more reliable supply chains while maintaining competitiveness, and the pandemic made them realize the drawbacks of their existing software. In a way, the pandemic opened doors of opportunity for us but made it critical to focus on providing more resilient planning recommendations in a world of high uncertainty. Even today, our delivery team is in constant touch with our clients, and we try to incorporate as many features as possible to make our application user-friendly. Weekly, we send release notes to our clients to keep them up to date and conduct user interviews to understand their needs better.

In your opinion, what do criminals usually try to gain by targeting large enterprises and supply chains instead of individuals?

There is a direct relationship between data and supply chains. As a matter of fact, the supply chains are the key component to a company’s competitiveness. Today, more and more companies are moving towards third-party supply chain software. But on the other hand, they are still reluctant to share information to protect their competitive edge. According to ENISA, between January 2020 and July 2021, 32% of cyberattacks targeting supply chains resulted in data theft. Hence, by hitting the supply chains they can easily disrupt the deliveries. Simply put, no products shipped or sourced will result in low turnovers and high chances of losing the market share. It is quite a strategic move for criminals to target supply chains, as this is a high-risk, high-reward situation for them.

What cybersecurity solutions do you think are a must both for critical infrastructure companies and individuals nowadays?

Karim is the CTO in Flowlity, he would have been the best to answer this question! In my opinion, there should be a high focus on risk management and resilience. The market is highly volatile, and cyberattacks are more common than ever. Investment in anti-virus, firewall, and cloud backup can safeguard companies to mitigate the risk. After all, Flowlity shares the same vision to help its clients to protect them from uncertainty and provide the maximum accuracy in the forecast to reduce the risk. The same will be valid for critical infrastructure companies and individuals.

Why do you think companies sometimes hesitate to try out new and innovative solutions that would enhance their operations?

As mentioned above, industries are deeply worried about data breaches and technology duplication. We are working on a business-critical process and the choice of partner and solution is done with utmost care. However, the old and traditional players are not able to offer the level of innovation needed to gain market share. The good thing is that the last few uncertain events, pushed the companies towards more openness and trustworthiness, but still it is a long road.

What other aspects of our daily lives do you hope to see secured and improved by innovations in technology?

Robotics and automation are taking a significant toll overall in the supply chain. Large enterprises are equipping their warehouses with robots and even improving their transportation requirements. Shortly, this will be an even bigger reality and will enhance the quality of life of enterprises and end-users. The boom of the E-commerce business in the past decade is the most prominent example. Furthermore, the process is becoming efficient and sustainable as well, which is frankly the need of the hour.

Would you like to share what’s next for Flowlity?

We recently raised 5 million euros! We have begun our descent in the markets of Europe. We are currently focusing on expanding our Flowlity team and building a diverse team from different backgrounds and geographies that will ultimately help us achieve our goals. Currently, we have employees from different ethnicities, who are adding great value already. We want to support several European companies and help them transform their supply chain. We are highly focused on building a resilient and sustainable supply chain. Hence, Flowlity is fully committed to a responsible approach and contributes to reducing its customers’ carbon footprint.

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