This From the Top interview is with Glenn Grube, Golbal Director of Marketing Services with ModueLink Golbal Solutions.

Image What is the current focus of your company's business?

Grube: ModusLink Global Solutions™, Inc. is a leader in global supply chain business process management. We provide organizations in the consumer electronics, high technology and communications industries with an integrated portfolio of business process outsourcing and technology solutions delivered across four core competencies: Supply Chain, e-Business, Aftermarket and Entitlement Management.

Our Supply Chain, e-Business and Aftermarket business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions operate as an integrated extension of our clients’ multi-channel supply chains, providing competitive differentiation and new channel and global market opportunities. The Entitlement Management solutions that we deliver pare designed for clients with enterprise technology capabilities to enable them to better manage customer access rights (‘entitlements’) to services such as software or support, to knowledge repositories and to physical product capacity and features in enterprise-technology products.

Our comprehensive e-Business Suite of Solutions consists of a number of robust, integrated Web solutions, each designed to extend the value of a client’s end-to-end supply chain by addressing specific, critical needs within the global, multi-channel sales and supply value chain. With a comprehensive set of integrated solutions—from e-commerce Web store design and hosting to a full suite of sales, marketing, customer support, financial management, fulfillment and post-sales services—we help clients increase revenue potential, while improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Image How has this focus changed in the last 2 years? 

Grube: Our core focus has remained the same, but it has expanded to include the solution offerings of our acquired subsidiaries. ModusLink has always been a provider of supply chain outsourcing solutions. In the past year, we significantly enhanced our aftermarket solution offering to include in-depth repair and we also added entitlement management to our roster of services. In addition, we launched a comprehensive e-Business Suite of Solutions in September to add revenue generating services to the cost containment services we offer to our clients. But as always, we continue to identify improvements in our existing services as well as identifying emerging requirements to assist our clients in the complexities of their supply chains.

Image What are your current initiatives?

Grube: We have three initiatives in play: continued focus on our key markets; expand our client relationships through innovative solutions and drive operational efficiencies. Those key markets are consumer electronics, storage and communications. We will drive new solutions as we continue the integration of services within our network of subsidiaries and we have intensive continuous improvement programs in place that enable us to streamline our business processes.

Image How has the market for EDI changed with the impact of the Internet? 

Grube: ModusLink has always provided complete visibility across the supply chain. We believe this end to end visibility gives our clients an understanding of what we are doing to support their business and provides information necessary for our clients to collaborate in critical decision-making. It has also given us the advantage of creating virtual supply chains for our clients, integrating a number of different suppliers that share a common goal: to service the client.

For ModusLink, EDI has always been a critical element of our services. We rely heavily on the exchange information electronically with our suppliers and customers. Because of the business world’s increasing reliance on EDI, we have seen our productivity and responsiveness increase dramatically and we continue to build our infrastructure around EDI/XML. 

An excellent example of how we leverage EDI/XML is demonstrated within our recent e-Business Suite of Solutions announcement. The five solutions that embody this suite rely on electronic messaging to facilitate Web hosting, order processing, order fulfillment, financial management services, transportation signaling and delivery of digital content. EDI allows ModusLink to link our clients with their customers, suppliers, and various distribution channels, delivering a fully integrated solution, which provides our clients with complete visibility through to their end customers.

Image What are the greatest challenges for your customers? 

Grube: Today, the global economy and increasing fuel costs are at the top of our clients’ challenges, but other challenges include:

  • Globalization of supply chain processes to leverage cost-effective opportunities and to reach global markets
  • Shrinking product life cycles – from years to months
  • Successfully integrating multiple touch points, including the Web store, customer support, financial transactions and physical delivery to provide a high quality and consistent service experience

Image How are you helping your customers address these challenges? 

Grube: Our supply chain services are grounded in eliminating the complexity of moving product from its manufacturing point to the end consumption. It is through this identification and applying postponement strategies throughout various key points of the supply chain that we are able to help our clients identify the optimal place and time for the final assembly and/or kitting to occur for a specific SKU. Our end to end visibility gives our clients the ability to see component or sub assembly components and finished goods anywhere in the supply chain, enabling them to make more fully informed decisions. When our e-Business Suite of Solutions is also applied to our core services, we give our clients the ability to remain connected to their end customers and provide greater channel visibility.

Image Who should pay for testing? 

Grube: Remuneration for testing of new software or revised software applications is dependent upon who made the request. If improvements or new releases are provided by the original developer, such as ModusLink, then testing is in integral part of releasing new functionality to our clients. If a feature is made by the client base, or specific client, then we seek a mutual decision on who should be paying for testing, how much and when. The decision to request payment for client enhancements is always made by working with our clients.

Image How do you categorize 'good' testing versus 'bad' or useless testing? 

Grube: For each of our clients we have developed rigorous scripts to test the known range of potential scenarios. In our experience, the best testing is done in a structured manner with both parties committed to testing a combination of process elements and the end to end process flow. It is also best to have a combination of business and technical users involved in these tests.
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