The Next Silicon Valley is emerging in the Cloud – Collaboration in the Dynamic Supply Chain
Fully digitised companies cooperate worldwide in remote collaboration and form highly effective networks that cross-company and state borders, serving global markets faster, more innovatively, and more individually.
The first two parts of the kyona vision story showed how work will change in the next 10 years. Jan and Anna work from Sami, a Greek island in the Ionian Sea, yet are fully integrated into the agile teams working together worldwide. Remote collaboration on digital platforms creates a working environment for unsurpassed efficiency in cross-regional and cross-company collaboration. Today, living and working are brought into harmony and not strictly separated from each other as was previously the case with the life-balance approach. You work from where you want to. Digitalisation makes it possible.
This also applies to Jan and Anna’s neighbors in the penthouses next door. Carlos and Summer have only come to the island paradise for this summer. Christian and Michelle Wagner live permanently on the island with their two children.
This part of the kyona Vision Story is about the impact of new concepts in worldwide cooperation. The next Silicon Valley will be emerging in the cloud – in the Dynamic Supply Chain.
kyona Vision Story Part 3: Cooperation in the Dynamic Supply Chain
Digital business – everything runs over platforms
Remote working in collaborative team organisations is the usual form of the business organisation today – 2030. In recent years, productions have been automated more and more, and fewer and fewer employees actually had to go to the plants. Teams set up worldwide are now the norm in the industry. Office space is saved, the majority of the brain workers now work from home.
Another large part of the brain workers has moved to where they like it. Remote working enables spatial freedom that can be used in many different ways. The decentralisation of cooperative work received a considerable boost after a new Covid-19 virus physically paralyzed the global economy a good 10 years ago. CoVid-23, three years later led to the breakthrough of remote working. Business trips, physical meetings anywhere in the world turned out to be inefficient and dangerous to health compared to well organised remote collaboration. Not to mention the enormous savings potential through the elimination of unproductive travel time and enormous costs for flights, hotels, and rental cars, etc. Much more aggressive than the 2019 virus, CoVid-23 forced the world back into the forced distance. However, some companies were better prepared than others from the 2020 experience. Many of those who hoped after Covid19 that it would be possible to return to the old order were swept off the market a few years later.
The new type of collaboration received a boost from a completely different direction from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who clearly rejected the then still common striving for “work-life balance” and marked it as the wrong path to take. His recipe for success for effective and healthy work is based on integrating work into private life – creating harmony between the two. He is convinced that the pursuit of work-life balance is paralysing, as it implies an energy-sapping strict separation between work and leisure. Thus work becomes a sale of a lifetime to a company. The meaningful effect and the effect of a satisfying task on the whole life recedes into the background. At least for Knowledge Worker thus task areas, which have much to do with work at the computer, with EDP systems, etc., the trend triggered by Bezos has become generally accepted in the context of the increasing agilisation of the enterprises.
These three experiences led worldwide to a rethinking in organisational development and inspired remote collaboration as work and life concept.
In the course of these new insights, many fully digitalised large companies have built their own small business villages outside the increasingly expensive metropolitan areas in the sense of corporate social responsibility. Meaningful communities with a company headquarters in the middle and houses arranged in different settlements. The company’s own kindergartens and childcare facilities and meeting rooms integrated into the headquarters with playgrounds and barbecue areas professionally operated restaurants and bars, as well as 24/7 kiosks for the daily small needs of food and snacks, provide a feeling of security and safety.
Most workplaces are at home. Elon Musk’s Hyperloop connects some of these rural satellites with the big city centers of Berlin, Essen, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Munich. A kind of magnetic levitation train, but in a vacuum tube underground, allows frictionless to travel at incredible speeds of almost 1,000 km/h. Please fasten your seat belts! The acceleration values are like those of modern electric sports cars, from 0 to 200 in 4.8 seconds. But that’s when the hyperloop really starts to accelerate. A great experience, but one that will eventually become routine.
Interestingly, the Hyperloops does not quite achieve the previously planned capacity utilization figures, as significantly more office workstations have been moved from the centers to the periphery than was assumed in the operators’ optimistic calculations. However, the concept of financing the considerable construction costs of the Hyperloops via rapidly rising land prices around the Hyperloop starting points has nevertheless been successful.
The family has become more important again after the social crises of recent years.
The new forms of collaboration now allow the meaningful combination of two working parents and intensive family life. And this works much better in the working and living environment provided by modern companies in rural areas, surrounded by nature and free space for the children than in the big city, which can be reached with the Hyperloop in 10 to 15 minutes anyway. The companies in the area support the surrounding schools and provide a good educational basis in the rural community, not only for the children of their employees. In this way, the companies, which are dependent on fellow thinkers with mathematical and scientific skills due to their high technology, create the necessary potential for new talent themselves.
However, by far not all companies and industries participated in this development. It was and is largely reserved for those organisations that were not immune to the last two industrial revolutions, digitisation, and connectivity, and were quick enough to build up the know-how to develop accordingly. The new effectiveness of collaboration creates competitive advantages and thus financial space, which in turn enables further innovative developments.
Unfortunately, Christian’s former company was not one of them. It stumbled in the 23 Corona wave. Although the employees had already dealt with agile working methods and digitalisation, top management did not follow suit. Up to 75% faster on the market, up to 75% improved quality, up to 50% increase in productivity, and up to 50% higher employee satisfaction, as Scaled Agile Inc. statistically proven by their project results, were of course also interesting for his former top management. But when things got tight with the agile way of working in the departments, the managers took bold action – as they called it – and fell back into old behavior patterns. In a crisis, a hard hand is important, as they said again in 2023. And suddenly Christian was on the street. A few unfavorable strategic rush jobs, demotivated employees, missing sales, high fixed costs, bankruptcy.
The tactics of the European governments to cushion the 2019 COVID catastrophe had already put a considerable strain on the state treasury. The results of the rescue packages and subsequent recovery program were not as satisfactory as expected and put a considerable strain on the euro. Everything was somehow patched on the edge and critical. In 2023, the economy then took a harder turn. State aid was scarcer because the euro was again in crisis. The effects of this renewed downturn were more powerful, as could be seen in Christian’s employers. But when looking at the situation more soberly, Christian has to admit that the economic crisis has only served to put his former employer out of business. However, working with agile collaboration in his department had already infected him back then. His conviction was solidified: This is the right way into the future.
Christian’s wife, Michelle, gave up her permanent job a few years earlier because they had two children together and joined the kyonauten, a dynamic supply chain platform, as a freelance graphic designer. On this digital platform, freelancers and small to medium-sized companies temporarily join together to form supply chains for a specific purpose and work together in a completely digitalised way.
In addition to placing individual orders, complete supply chains from the product idea to the sale in the online store are organised and dynamically processed on the platform.
For Michelle, the kyonauten community and the Dynamic Supply Chain during her childhood upbringing was initially just one way of staying flexibly connected to work. However, her business quickly grew into dimensions that allowed her independence and freedom combined with the upbringing of her children Clarissa and Jonte. Today she runs her online business from Sami, her small Greek island. Her children go to the Remote International School and, like the children in the village, have classes in the morning until the early afternoon – just online in front of the screen. Michelle also looks after them. In the afternoon, the two play soccer, burn ball, or Queimou, a Greek game of hide-and-seek, with the children in the village. In time, they have learned enough Greek to get along with their little friends from the village.
The four of them live as a family in the third penthouse in the series, right next to Jan & Anna and Carlos & Summer. In contrast to the other two couples, they do not live for rent but bought the apartment with a wonderfully large sun terrace.
This way of living became possible for the family because Christian decided to use previous know-how to start a digitalised future with one of his colleagues after the bankruptcy of his employer. The experience Michelle had gained in the digital world of the kyonauts encouraged Dimitrie and him to join the Dynamic Supply Chain as well.
Today, the two of them run a small company for digital work preparation with 10 employees or rather brain workers. They convert design templates into control programs for CNC-controlled production systems. Dimitrie is Ukrainian and, after 20 years in Germany, now lives with his Russian girlfriend in a dacha in the Crimea; Christian lives with his family in Greece.
With their company, they are specialised in the support of ultra-modern, networked shoe production systems. They have just re-entered a new dynamic supply chain. Their cooperation partner Stefan from Pirmasens in Germany, a shoe manufacturer who took over the traditional family business from his parents but then had to outsource the entire production to Asia piece by piece in the course of globalization, had again started to manufacture shoes in small series and one-off production in a highly automated way in Germany. The production know-how is still available in the old shoe region of Pirmasens and in his company. Digitalisation and automation are his passion. So Stefan is now starting up a production facility for his product niche of comfort shoes with target group: older customers – in addition to the production facilities mainly in Asia and Eastern Europe. Digitalisation and automation of all IOTs also make Germany more attractive again as a business location. In recent years, energy costs have continued to rise and transport has become a serious cost factor in logistics. The awareness of locally manufactured products has also increased, especially in Europe. Since the new high-tech shoe production systems print large parts of the shoe and, as already mentioned, run highly automated, Stefen has set up several of these shoe printing centers in Europe and also in America and Asia. They are all networked and centrally controlled. Only little effort is required on-site to organise the material supply to the production plant and the packing and shipping as well as the low physical maintenance of the plants. For his bread and butter business Comfort shoes for older people, Stefan has the design know-how in the company. However, new markets for mainly young customers can only be developed to a limited extent from Primasens in the Palatinate. Not only the design has to be added elsewhere. He also obtains the highly specialised services of digital work preparation from outside.
To this end, Stefan has joined Christian’s company in a dynamic supply chain with his new DigLab Shoe company on the kyonauten platform. Also involved are a number of shoe designers from all over the world, who are involved as kyonauten in various dynamic supply chains for their respective shoe series.
A few days ago Stefan found the designs of Harumi, a Tokyo-based shoe designer, in the platform. Harumi was tired of having her design ideas torn apart by her strictly hierarchical boss: “This is too wild for our customers…”, “Harumi, this is not a discotheque. We can’t sell something like that…”
At some point, she simply quit, created a few new cool designs on her own computer at home, and uploaded them to the kyonauts in search of a dynamic supply chain. After reviewing the designs, Stefan contacted Harumi and started negotiations with her. The digital kyonauten platform automatically provides an agile, fully digitalised work environment for connecting community members. All parties involved in a supply chain are integrated into one temporary company. From the idea to product development, production, marketing, and sales including accounting, customs clearance, etc., small and medium-sized partners come together. The platform automatically helps to negotiate labor relations, costs, and distribution of sales, etc.
After Stefan and Harumi have agreed by the digital Letter of Intent, he switches on Christian and Dimitrie. The two are to convert the Design drafts of Harumi into control programs for Stefan’s production plant net. The designs fit perfectly into the brand strategy of Clara, who lives in Costa Rica and is currently positioning a new brand with her online marketing agency. Her goal is to chase young customers away from Adidas, Nike, and Puma with their sneakers in the niche. Limited editions that are sold out immediately after release and then sold at higher prices. Luxury and status as a scarce commodity. To this end, Clara usually includes a number of YouTube and Insta Influencers in its dynamic digital initiative.
The supply chain then lacks billing, customs, and tax stuff. The cat and mouse game between tax collecting countries and internationally digitised companies with tax avoidance intentions have increased in recent years. This has created a jumble of rules and regulations that require special know-how, especially for global cooperation. This is Gerdi’s specialty. Invoicing and tax assessment of the entire dynamic supply chain also known as DSC lets it run tax-optimized via Luxembourg.
The only thing missing is the online store, and Frederike from Copenhagen in Denmark has two online stores that could be used to sell the new shoes. Amazon is big, but not cool enough here.
As the initiator of DCS, Stefan coordinates the first video conference of potential business partners. Since the cooperation on the kyonauten platform is agile and highly standardised, the participants quickly find each other. Harumi’s designs quickly convince the meeting participants. Adjustment suggestions are taken up by Harumi and noted in her task card. Rapid implementation is promised. The joint project is outlined in a Development Epic, the map is immediately linked to Harumi’s designs. Since the core team of this initiative is not the first dynamic supply chain they have set up, a template is provided in the kyonauten platform for the Development Epic. A supply chain structure plan is quickly assembled in the form of work cards and assigned to the Dev-Epic. By tomorrow, everyone will have planned their topic and roughly calculated the corresponding effort.
Christian is euphoric. Although it is the tenth dynamic supply chain he is involved in, he has a good feeling. Driven by the idea he will probably work through the rest of the day and a large part of the night. He will be joined by Markus, a colleague who lives just around the corner from Stefan’s Pirmasens shoe factory. If the DSC works out, there will be more work for the two and the other colleagues all over the world. A share of the turnover beckons, which will be discussed tomorrow in the next video conference, among other things.
Just like Christian and Dimitrie with their 10 colleagues, thousands of companies now work together dynamically and serve the fast-moving and demanding markets as temporary project organisations. Entire airport and power plant constructions are offered and handled by consortia, organised through the dynamic supply chain. This highly standardised form of digital collaboration only became possible with the change in awareness regarding the person and topic-oriented communication. This one agile principle was ultimately the killer application for digital progress.
Actually, the four Wagners had an appointment with Anna and Jan for dinner in the village this evening. Now, unfortunately, something else interesting happened to Christian. Michelle is right. The children are playing in the shade on the roof terrace Memory and she is busy revising a marketing brochure for the Hamburg Caritas, which she would like to finish today. Christian detaches his screen from the computer and walks down the stairs with the tablet PC and a towel, armed, to the footbridge, where he wants to start working on the calculation sitting under the parasol. On the way, he quickly stops by Anna and Jan’s house and signs off his family from eating together in the village. He also passes Summer and Carlos’ terrace, whom he greets friendly. But Summer has other thoughts in his head right now. She pulls Carlos into the bedroom by the hand. The computers have a break, the smartphones are switched off. Now the two of them take three-quarters of an hour for each other, young love…
Once down at the sea, Christian quickly takes the dinner date off the calendar and replaces it with a do not disturb block that will allow him to work undisturbed.
This switch now triggers a request from Wagner’s refrigerator and the home gourmet. It appears on the smartphones of Michelle and Christian. The refrigerator has already put together a reorder for the food that has been used in the meantime and now asks if there is anything left for dinner. The Home-Gourmet, a fully automatic food processor that can conjure up real gourmet food and prints a large part of the food for it, makes concrete suggestions for favorite dishes from the four Wagners. After a click from Michelle, the two children are also included in the query.
Normally Christian and Michelle attach great importance to freshly cooked food with lots of vegetables and other healthy ingredients. Cooking food with time and leisure is a quality of life for them. But when time is short and both are in flow with their work, they let the home gourmet do the work.
After choosing the menu, the appliance automatically orders frozen cartridges of ingredients, which are prepared down in the village together with the food ordered from the refrigerator and the coffee bar and delivered automatically by an automated guided vehicle system (AGV). When the AGV is at the door, an alarm is triggered on all connected smart devices and you have 5 minutes to take the delivery from the AGV. A code on the smartphone opens one of the delivery vehicle’s refrigerated compartments. If one misses the 5 minutes, the AGV drives on and comes back later.
The food cartridges are then inserted into the Home Gourmet, the time of the meal is entered and you can return to your work in joyful anticipation of a freshly prepared, delicious meal. What a difference from the food deliveries that were common a few years ago with crunchy fries, tough, lukewarm meat, and soggy rubber pizzas from the restaurant delivery service.
After Christian, resting on the couch on the waterfront has assigned a production plan structural element to his supply chain element in the Development EPIC and entered Markus as a team member, he asks his computer to start a video conference with Markus.
Smart home on the slope of the Palatinate Forest is Markus’s home. From here, he has a 180-degree view of the Palatinate lowlands. For his creativity, he needs a view into the distance. From his desk, he can see up to 70 kilometers away in good weather. In the past, his gaze was often caught by the nuclear power plant, a disturbing factor in the otherwise so quiet Palatinate landscape. In the course of the German nuclear phase-out, the distinctive cooling tower was recently blown up. He still misses the sight of the steaming column, from whose steam vent he could always see how and from where the wind was blowing. But he will get used to it. What remains is the expression of German progress in energy policy: hundreds of windmills are turning in his field of vision. The rotating blades of the power generators spread a slight restlessness in the otherwise so gracefully situated Palatinate lowlands.
When Markus joins the video conference, he already knows what it’s all about. He immediately gets an alert when a new Development Epic is posted in their kyona account. Markus is curious and is looking forward to the potential new order. He has learned to appreciate the free work with Christian and Dimitri. He is employed by both of them, but he is free to spend his time with programming and fiddling around and enjoy his smart home, which he is constantly developing and tinkering with. He does not like the insecurity of being a freelancer and feels very comfortable in his employment.
The two of them take a closer look at Harumi’s designs on the screen and begin to think about how they could be implemented in Stefan’s shoe printers. Sixteen systems could run for this purpose, provided the design appeals to the shoe community. There should be a way to individualize the shoes. During the ordering process, customers can add special features to the design that make the shoes unique. However, these variation possibilities must not impair the overall design of the shoe. After the key data has been discussed, Stefan continues to work on the calculation alone. In the meantime, the sun has set and once again conjured up a very special play of colors every evening against a slightly cloudy sky. But now it is slowly getting fresher at the water. So the food signal of the home gourmet on his tablet comes just in time. Stefan takes his computer and towel and goes upstairs to his family. The food is on the table, a bottle of good red wine on top. There is grape juice for the children.
After the gourmet dinner and a quiet thirty minutes of family conversation at the table, during which the children enjoy licking their ice cream, Anna sets about finally finishing her Caritas brochure. Christian puts the children to bed, reads them another story and then gets back to his calculations.
All those involved in the new dynamic supply chain have now added structural elements to their supply chain elements in the Development EPIC in the form of task cards. Christian can see it on the DSC board. Two views are available to him in the collaboration platform. One shows all task cards in chronological order in a kind of project plan with Gantt chart. Here, the team can plan interrelationships and dependencies, visualize the rough course of the initiative and make them jointly agreeable and editable. This project plan then feeds the DSC Teamboard, a KanBan board with six status columns, later on during the collaboration: Planned i. e. in the project plan, Sprint Backlog – intended for processing in the next Sprint, on work – currently being worked on, on hold – waiting for further input, resolved – in my view is finished and done – agreed upon by the team as validated.
The lines of the board show the names of the team members of the DSC and the task cards assigned to them. Smaller initiatives with a maximum of 11 participants can manage with one board. If more than 11 people are required for implementation, multiple team boards are automatically created and a team integration is added. The meeting structure required for teamwork and integration of all participants is automatically suggested by the platform after viewing the calendars of all participants.
Another view of the collaboration board shows Christian all his initiatives at a glance. The columns are always the same but the rows of the board now show the different initiatives he is involved in. He immediately recognizes which task boards he is driver for and for which boards he has to give input. The cards that he wants to observe in particular, he pulls into his MyToDo board, looking at the eye-catcher button with a double eye-blink. Here he can sort his tasks in a kind of backlog. What he has to do first moves up, less urgent ones move down in the list. He can add his personal notes to each card in this list. For each task card, Christian thinks through his work steps and lists them quickly. They are displayed like a checklist on which he can tick off one completed to-do after another. Christian finds this ticking off very satisfying; on the screen the todo is immediately displayed crossed out. Every evening he immediately sees what he has done. Unless he actively chooses not to do so, these todos are integrated into the solution path of the task cards with an eye-catching click as a comment. Thus, each of his DCS colleagues can immediately see what the status is and where he can start with his work.
In preparation for tomorrow’s first planning meeting of the new DSC, Christian prepares his task cards and thus creates the required rough calculation. He has a good feeling after finishing his work and crawls happily to Anna under the thin blanket.
The first planning meeting of the new DSC is scheduled for the next morning. Christian woke up early and stands with a first coffee on the parapet of his roof terrace. A fresh wind is blowing up from the sea. First sailing yachts are leaving the marina of Sami and are heading for a nice sailing day in the Ionian Sea with hope for a stable wind. In front of the beach section of Wagner’s apartment house, the crews usually haul in their fenders and set main and jib sails when the wind is strong enough. The two islands opposite each other act as a wind nozzle for the sailors, which allows a fast downwind course. The calm hustle and bustle on deck of the ships is beautiful to watch. From time to time one of the sailors waves over when Christian looks behind the boats from his terrace or from the jetty below.
Now Christian sits down in the champagne colored cushions of the lounge furniture on the terrace and turns on his Microsoft Surface. Even though the Microsoft software products are not really suitable for real agile collaboration, he likes Bill Gates’s hardware quite a bit. Microsoft stands for the old world of collaboration for personal communication in emails, SharePoints, teams and group chats. The integration of the many separate tools is quite well solved, but it is a fundamentally different architecture. But since there are enough companies outside the free market that can still afford such inefficiencies, Microsoft is still doing well. The proportion of state-supported and controlled companies has increased significantly since the coronary crises. These companies are now called systemically relevant. They are characterized by less competitive orientation, comparatively little innovation and, of course, personal communication structures. The state makes it possible. Support with taxpayers’ money is tied to conditions for shaping society. Systemically relevant companies have to observe many rules to ensure gender neutrality, diversity, a sufficiently high proportion of women on management and supervisory boards, and so on. The state is thus trying to get a grip on the excesses of hierarchical corporate structures on the coexistence in society; commonly referred to as capitalism.
The new, agile forms of cooperation are not aware of these problems. Agile Collaboration in internationally positioned, independently acting, constantly learning teams is neither discriminating nor male-dominated. Family and career are compatible, spatial dependencies are largely eliminated.
The nice thing about today’s situation is that the old, hierarchical corporate structures still exist due to state intervention in the economy. In principle, everyone is free to choose how and where they want to work. In this respect, the world has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. To the advantage of most.
The planning meeting via video conference has started. Again, participants from all over the world are present. International collaboration with different cultures is interesting and productive. Everyone can contribute his or her strengths. Acceptance of differences, mutual support and respect for each other’s achievements characterise the collaboration. Working with and in different time zones has become a habit. One divides the day as it fits and according to Jeff Bezos, it creates a harmony between work and life. Everyone is responsible for themselves and sees to it that they keep their energy for work and life in harmony and accordingly high. A way of living that has only become possible through the achievements of technology. Broadband access to the Internet everywhere as well as new platforms that enable topic-related collaboration.
The coordination is progressing rapidly, all calculations are available. With the support of the platform, a first draft of the declaration of division is being compiled. Who assumes what risk in this initiative, what capital and labor input is required before the first actual revenue is generated? What ongoing expenses and additional operational costs can be expected? The proposal of the platform is AI-supported and based on the evaluation of thousands of similar, successfully executed dynamic supply chain initiatives. The team will largely agree.
Frederike from Denmark wants to have time to think about it until tomorrow. She wants to check something else.
Since the initiative will involve a total of significantly more than 11 participants, it is agreed that the DSC will be divided in the middle and two teams will compete. They will be synchronized via a simple integration.
Christian is confident that tomorrow the new dynamic supply chain will rise.
To be continued in part 4: Enterprise Architecture
About the Autor:
After 10 years of consulting and development work in a large auditing and management consultancy and as the CEO of a start-up, Rainer Borg dedicated himself entirely to the topic of Scaled Agile Collaboration in organisational and product development.
With profound competence in Scaled Agile Enterprise architectures, he dimensioned agility from the individual team to the entire group of companies.
His passion is to accompany companies in their change, to initiate structures that enable the management to manage the complexity of change initiatives and to master and control it. On the other hand, to enable employees to get involved and actively shape the company.
Photo by jj ying 8bghKxNU1j0 on unsplash.com