Complete Intelligence


BBC: EU responds to US Green Deal by relaxing state aid rules

This podcast is originally published by BBC Business Matters in this link:

BBC’s Description:

The European Union will allow members to offer subsidies that match those offered by the US Inflation Reduction Act to prevent an exodus of green energy projects. The White House’s $369 billion initiative has been criticised by many countries, which fear it could attract local companies to move across the Atlantic.

Roger Hearing discusses this and more business news with two guests on opposite sides of the world: Stefanie Yuen Thio, joint managing partner at TSMP Law in Singapore, and Tony Nash, chief economist at Complete Intelligence in Texas.

Tony Nash, CEO and founder of Complete Intelligence, joined BBC Business Matters podcast, to discuss a range of topics from autonomous vehicles to green energy subsidies.

Nash shared his thoughts on the future of AI and autonomous vehicles. He discussed the challenges of ensuring self-driving cars can navigate changing road conditions and the safety concerns that come with autonomous driving. Nash also discussed the potential of AI in the transportation industry and the need for continued development in this area.

Nash also provided insights on Joe Biden’s tax plan, specifically focusing on corporate taxes and unrealized gains tax. He discussed the potential impact of the tax plan on companies and individuals and offered alternative solutions to the proposed policies.

Nash also discussed the transatlantic race for green energy subsidies in another episode. He explored the role of government grants in spurring innovation in the green energy industry and discussed the challenges facing countries caught in the middle of geopolitical forces. Nash also highlighted the importance of consumer pressure in driving environmentally friendly products.



Hello, and welcome to Business Matters. I’m Roger Hearing. Coming up on the program today, the European Commission is allowing member states to subsidize companies with green energy projects. They’re trying to forestall a drift of such firms to the US. Where state aid is already in place. Also, as pro Western protests go on in Georgia, we take a look at the strength for the economy in a country that really desperately wants to join the European Union. President Biden’s budget plan see a big tax rise for rich individuals and companies. So how’s that going to go down?


What he’s promising is we’re going to have European style benefits, but still have incredibly progressive taxes, and that’s just not realistic.


And self driving cars are on their way, but how can we make them safe on crowded urban roads? And I will be joined throughout the program by two guests on opposite sides of the world. Stefanie Yuen Thio, who’s joint managing director at TSMP Law Corporation, is joining us from Singapore. And Tony Nash, founder of the AI firm Complete Intelligence, joining us from Houston, Texas. So clearly, Tony, let me come to you and ask, well, what’s going on down in Texas at the moment?


Hey, Roger. Well, we have the Houston Rodeo, which is the largest rodeo in America, and it sounds like a throwback, but it’s actually a really big deal. They raise about half a billion US. Dollars for scholarships for Texas students. So it’s a big deal here in Houston, and it sends a lot of kids to university.


Yeah, and worth watching, too, I imagine, isn’t it?


Yes, it is. Yes, sir.


But you don’t take part, I imagine, Tony. I mean, the picture in front of my mind at this moment is quite.


Last year, but I’m not good for 8 seconds on a horse, so I’ll just sit in sidelines.


The let’s hope you’re good for 60 minutes on the radio, and I’m sure you will be. Anyway, welcome both. Let’s first of all talk about what’s happened here in Europe, because really it’s a transatlantic issue. But Europe has moved to try and level the playing field for companies there who want to set up green energy projects. There’s been fears that very generous new subsidies for US firms brought in by President Biden would drain Europe of green energy projects as businesses moved across the Atlantic to take advantage of what was over there. Well, now the European Commission has relaxed the rules on state aid for projects aimed at speeding up energy storage and the use of renewable energy and wants that take out carbon from industrial processes. EU member states will have until the end of 2025 to set up their schemes. What’s your take on this? It’s your side of the Atlantic that has really upped the ante on this with the Inflation Reduction Act covers a multitude of things, but one of them is this enormous amount of subsidy, over $300 billion, and then it starts this war with the EU over it, really.


So, Roger, the first thing I want to do is start a green energy company to game both sides of the subsidy plan. Right. So I think it’s interesting. It started in the US and obviously it’s just a truckload of money, and like everyone has said, it’s just a race to get somewhere. And I think it’s really hard to believe that this race is a credible one when Germany is burning more coal than they have in decades. Right. So I think that is it going to stimulate innovation? I don’t think so, because it’s grants, right. These are grants that are being given out by government, which I think I.


Don’ think they’re necessarily direct grants. Some of them may be, but it’s a mixed picture, I think.


Yeah, it’s mixed. And so those grants will be the first to go and they’ll be given very inefficiently, and then the tax credits or the other things that are done, if they’re in small batches, then they could kind of engender some competition. But if there are very large tax subsidies to be given, then it’s just going to be pigs at a trough. That’s all it’s going to be here in the US, in Europe. Europe is not unique. It’s the same thing here.


Well, indeed, but at the same point, I’ve put to Stephanie, I mean, isn’t in the end, Tony, the problem that you can’t leave it up to the market to do something that actually matters much longer term than most markets really have anything to do with?


Oh, well, you can. When you look at emissions, the US has been well ahead of kind of targets for years, because for the most part, we’ve had markets that haven’t subsidized kind of inefficient companies to do this. Of course, we have companies like Cylindra, which was a big story 15 years ago or something, and other wasteful green tech companies. But for the most part, when you look at, say, the US auto industry, other industries, they’ve done they’ve worked very, very hard to reduce emissions. And the US auto industry, even on petrol-fuelled cars, has done an amazing job at reducing emissions. And of course, there are subsidies that go to US automotive makers, but they’re not new and they’re not a large part of the revenues that those auto makers get.


What’s the incentive for them to do this? Because there has to be some incentive.


Consumers want it.


Consumer pressure.


Why do people make a car Blue? Or why do people put a Bluetooth connection to your ipod or your iPhone in the car? It’s because consumers want it. So the more consumer pressure there is to have environmentally friendly automobiles, it moves in that direction.


That’s very interesting. But Tony, let me bring you in on this, because it is an interesting picture of a country that is in a very difficult position, caught between Russia and the west but also with an economy that clearly doesn’t basically function. It seems to be held together entirely by aid.


And wine.


And wine. The wine is very nice, don’t get me wrong on that.


Yeah. It’s in a tough position. It’s between some big powerhouses and they had a conflict with Russia a decade or so ago, so it’s a very kind of tenuous position, and it’s definitely not something that’s easy to get out of, I don’t think.


Tell me, the other thing is that being caught in the middle of very big geopolitical forces, what was very interesting, Georgia. Georgia’s economy right now seems to be run by mainly by Russians who fled from Russia, which is an extraordinary situation, isn’t it?


Yeah, it is. Roger, I’m really not sure. The basis of this protest is supposedly that NGOs have to register because of their foreign influence, foreign money. But that is required in a lot of countries, so it’s required in Singapore, for example. Right. So I’m not really sure why this is such a problem. If foreign newspapers, like in Singapore, every foreign newspaper has to be approved. Yeah, and I I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be picking on Singapore, but but this is the case in a lot of countries, and so I’m just puzzled as to why this is a problem, especially if there’s so much foreign aid there. I just don’t understand it.


Tony, can I hazard stephanie, come in. Yes. Yeah. Let me hazard a guess. What’s happening in the Ukraine is a very big part of the consciousness of that part of the world right now, as it is for the rest of us as well. How Ukrainians are getting their message out there, how they’re garnering support internationally, is through social media and the foreign press. So I can imagine that any move that tries to muzzle foreign ownership of media is going to look like it is a very authoritarian move. And by and large, we get worried about things like that. And Singapore has been criticized, as Tony, you’ve pointed out, for having those rules, and I can accept that. I can appreciate that that is an issue. Having said that, international interference in national issues has become an increasing thing. We’ve seen the effect of troll farms in Russia on the US elections in the past, for example. And while we think we don’t want there to be constraints on independent and credible news organizations, what if you had an Islamic State take a very large percentage of the news outlets shareholdings?


Yeah, it’s one of those issues. It has to be applied not in general, but in specifics, and then see how it plays out. And I think that is absolutely the problem in Georgia. No doubt we’ll hear more from that country… Of the Manhattan Institute. Right. Tony, I’m going to let you get your teeth into it, but I will say, first of all, there’s a sense in which this is a phony budget, isn’t it? Because he doesn’t even expect necessarily to get it through Congress.


Yeah, it’s not going to make it through Congress. I mean, it’s just not. I mean, look, the capital gains tax that he’s proposing is higher than the ordinary income tax of the US. Meaning if you work for a living and you pay taxes from your salary, the capital gains tax he’s proposing is higher than that. And so these people who are actually taking risk on investments, they’re going to pay a higher tax for putting investment money into the market. That’s just ridiculous, and that stuff won’t make it. The thought that companies are going to pay higher tax is just silly because it’s not going to happen. I mean, there are several tax attorneys who, if you believe that’s going to happen, then you need to talk to tax attorneys and understand and CPAs and understand how things really work.


You’re saying, Tony, that the taxes are not going to happen because he won’t get through Congress, but you’re saying it’s a silly idea.


I’m saying the corporate taxes won’t happen because it’s unrealistic. So companies pay tax and that’s fine, but they also employ a lot of people. They make investments, they generate intellectual property and so on and so forth. So do we want to tax them more? Sure, maybe a little bit more. But to take a plan like this and aggressively state that you’re going to make companies pay a lot more, it’s really questionable, especially as earnings are collapsing. Publicly earnings in publicly traded companies are collapsing right now, so we’re going to put higher tax on them. And you saw this in the UK when there was the pressure on Gilt six months ago, right? You can’t put this type of thing forward if you don’t have a legitimate plan. And so for Biden to say, if you don’t have a better plan, well, I have a better plan. Why don’t you tax electric vehicles for the miles they drive? Because they don’t pay any fuel tax in the US.


Yeah, but that’s not going to fill the gap, is it? I mean, if you compare these enormous companies with huge profits, some of them, particularly in the energy sector, the financials as well.


It’s net positive, right? So it’s net positive. And anybody who thinks like your guest said, people are going to game that $100 million. I mean, that’s just silly, right? Anybody who makes under $100 million, they’re going to distribute it to family and shell companies and LLCs and other things. Nobody’s going to be worth $100 million.


It’s that they tax people. The people who earn over $400,000. That was the figure, wasn’t it? That’s where the burden is going to fall. But to a lot of people, that seems very reasonable. It’s an awful lot of money.


What’s? An awful lot of money for $400,000. Yeah, but how many people who earn $400,000 are really going to pay it? Right? I mean, they will, of course, but most of them are also going to have a lot of deductions, too. So you would have to raise the standard deduction unless those guys are going to circumvent. The other really silly thing which your guest was really good at talking about was the tax on unrealized gains. Okay? So imagine if you own a stock and it’s gone up two or three times and you haven’t sold that stock yet. That’s what an unrealized gain is. So imagine this. You own a house and the value has gone up by 50% and the government comes to you and says, hey, I know you haven’t sold your house yet, but I’m going to tax you on that sale of that house anyway, right? That’s exactly what this unrealized gain tax is doing. It’s saying everybody who owns a house that’s gone up in value, the government’s going to come in and tax you on that gain in that house. And you own a house and you’re like, wait, that’s not fair.


I haven’t even got that money yet. Right? So let these guys make their gains and tax them on those capital gains. That’s fine. We don’t need to hate rich people just for being rich.


Also, Tony, does the house owner get it back if the house price falls?


And how do you measure it? What’s the measure of value anyway? It’s full of difficulties, clearly. Well, definitely they will find ways around it. Well, let me come back to you then, Tony, on this, because we’ve said basically what you don’t think will work with what Joe Biden is promising or suggesting. If he is attempting to increase the size of the state, which it seems he is, and perhaps a bit parallel to what’s happening in Singapore, how should he be seeking the money for that?


Well, I think the first thing he needs to do is look at why he’s hiring 17,000 new Environmental Protection Agency agents, right? I mean, you know, we need to understand why we’re hiring more people into the government rather than just putting the heads aside and saying we’re going to grow government, we’re going to be greener, and so on and so forth. There was a law passed last year that said there would be something like 70,000 new Internal Revenue Service agents. And once the new Congress came in, the first thing they did was attack that and defunded because Congress has the power of the purse. So effectively what Biden is doing is he’s trying to anchor the budget discussion. I don’t think many of these things are actually going to happen. This is a negotiation. We have the debt ceiling coming on. We have a number of other things happening with regard to federal government revenue. So all he’s doing here is trying to anchor the conversation very high. And I think what you have in Congress right now is you have a set of Republicans who are not going to negotiate with that.


What they’re doing with the budget ceiling is they’re ticking off item by item the things that they want and getting the federal government to give in on things one by one because the bureaucrats do not want the debt ceiling to be a problematic issue.


Well, yeah.


Is it likely to Republicans on things one by one? Of course.


Are we going to find the new debt ceiling problem, which seems to be.


Oh, my gosh, Roger, there’s going to be so much drama about the debt ceiling. Oh, my gosh, it’s going to be the end of the world and full fifth grade of the US. Government and all this garbage. It’s it’s not going to be an issue. It’s never going to be an issue.


Okay. Interesting. I mean, Singapore, I suppose. Tony, would you would you put your faith in in autonomous vehicles? I mean, they, they have tested some, I think in Texas.


Yeah. I was driving in Dallas probably a year or so ago, and I was on a very crowded highway, and I looked next to there was a big semi truck next to me, and it was supposedly an autonomous driven semi truck, but of course there was a driver there. And to be honest, I found it terrifying. I heard an interview with one of the grandfathers of AI. His name is Stuart Russell. This was probably about three years ago. And he has been in AI since the 70s or something, and he was involved in self driving cars in the 90s. According to him, and I’m sure the technology has come a long way in three or four years. But at the time he said that we were no further with self driving cars at the time of that interview, which I think was 2018 or something, than we had been in the 1990s. That’s extraordinary. It is. And I work for an AI company. I mean, it’s not magic. It’s code and math. And that’s really what it is. It’s computer code and math. And as Stephanie pointed out, we have trouble updating apps. Right. And so if you’re going to be moving along at 100km/h or whatever and put your faith in a car and other people’s cars, I think when everything is automated, that’s different.


Right. If we’re 100% self driving cars, then that’s a very different story. But when you have some self driving and some not, there are so many unknowns in the environment, and how can a car know if something walking along the side is a child or a mailman or whatever, right. And you just don’t know what they’re going to do. So I don’t think cars on their own have the compute power to understand what’s going on around them. I suspect that a lot of what we’re being told is marketing more than actual capability. I would really like to talk to somebody and understand if it’s actual capability, because I just don’t believe it. I want it to happen, but I just don’t believe it’s.


Isn’t it I mean, what you said they want it to happen because I certainly feel it will be hugely useful. I mean, elderly parents being able to get places, for example. But all sorts ways in which actually it’d be really useful to have such a thing. I suppose we feel. And, Stephanie, I’d be interested to get your intake on this. We feel that at this point, with all the technical know how, we have self demonstrated that we should be able to do this. I mean, it’s been a staple of science fiction films, probably going back to the 19th century, that these kind of things would exist.


Yeah, but I have a question on AI. We’ve been talking about Chat GPT and how biases get into it. Now, if you’re trouble, who is setting the safety standards for these self driving cars? If there is a person walking on the street, is it going to make a distinction between a minority race? If there are two people and it has to pick one to hit and it can’t stop, for example, does it pick the minority race guy to hit? What does it do?


That’s like the famous trolley example in a philosophy class. Do you run over the fat person or not? And these kind of things, which you can’t really expect, I suppose, a self driving car to think of. But I suppose that the point of this. If everything is autonomous, then, as Tony says, perhaps the issue isn’t really a big one. But I would say with all these caveats you’re putting in there, Stephanie, the fact is there are a lot of very bad drivers out there already. Is it worse to have one that’s autonomous?


No, I totally want to have a self driving car, frankly. I would like to not have to drive me around. I would like my husband to not have to drive around. He thinks he’s a race car driver. He’s not really that good. So I think that would be great. But I agree all the cars should be autonomous. And maybe we should have speed limits.


Well, yes. And you could impose them automatically very easily, couldn’t you? That would be one of the things. And Tony, I suppose you’re in AI. Okay, I take on board your point. You’re saying it hasn’t come people reporting it hasn’t come that far since even the 1990s. But it must be something that AI can take on, surely.


Sure, AI can take on a lot of things. But is it there right now? And would I want to drive in it right now? Probably not. And Roger, going back to your question about is it worse for a machine to, say, be a bad driver than a human? Absolutely. Yes, it’s worse.




Because the unique function of that machine is to drive you around safely. That driver person does not have a unique function, right? So if that machine is specifically made to drive you around safely, that’s the only thing it’s there for. So it should be able to drive you around safely. And until that can happen, we should absolutely not have autonomous vehicles on the road.


Okay, but take the bad drivers. Who knows what the function of the bad driver is? But if they hit you, they’ll still do damage, and that’s really what matters. Principle, surely.


Of course they will. And to go into any country and get a driver’s license. Anybody can get a driver’s license, right? And so that’s a kind of least common denominator standard. The worst driver can still get a license.


And the worst robot might be a better driver.


Yeah, but that’s that robot’s 100% job, and unless they can do it in the top, I would say, decile of drivers, it shouldn’t be on the road.


All right, well, I think they’ve got a big, long way, I think, to persuade either of you, really, that it’s happening. I think Stephanie probably would prefer it probably more than you would. I certainly would love it. Not least for the fact I can go to a lovely English country pub and after perhaps consumed a little bit of lovely, I can just get in the car and it’ll take me home. No issues. That’s what I’m all about. Anyway, thanks to both of you for being with us. Your rodeo of business Matters has been survival, I’m very pleased to say, Tony. And we’ll welcome you all back soon, I think. But thanks for listening to Business Matters. Bye.

Visual (Videos)

Supply Chain Innovation, Transformation, and Sustainability

How can leaders and finance teams enable business growth, innovation, and resilience through supply chain management (SCM) and digital transformation? And, how does sustainability affect supply chains? To answer these questions, we spoke with Jon Chorley, Chief Sustainability Officer and Group Vice President of Oracle, and Tony Nash, CEO & Founder of Complete Intelligence.


This video interview first appeared and originally published at on April 17, 2021.


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The conversation includes these topics:


Jon Chorley is group vice president of product strategy for Oracle’s supply chain management (SCM) applications and leads the team responsible for driving the business requirements and product roadmaps for these applications. Chorley is also the chief sustainability officer for Oracle.


Tony Nash is the CEO and Founder of Complete Intelligence. Previously, Tony built and led the global research business for The Economist and the Asia consulting business for IHS (now IHS Markit).



Show Notes


Michael Krigsman: We’re discussing supply chain innovation and transformation and sustainability with Jon Chorley of Oracle and Tony Nash of Complete Intelligence. Jon, tell us about your role at Oracle.


Jon Chorley: I run the supply chain management strategy group at Oracle, responsible for our overall investment priorities and directions for our supply chain solutions. I also have the chief sustainability officer role at Oracle where I help coordinate all of our sustainability policies and practices for the Oracle Corporation and help drive some of those ideas and thoughts into the products and services we deliver to the market.


Michael Krigsman: Tony Nash, tell us about the focus of your work.


Tony Nash: Complete Intelligence, we’re a globally integrated and fully automated artificial intelligence platform for cost and revenue proactive planning. We do forecasting for enterprises and markets in areas like continuous cost budgeting, continuous revenue budgeting, automation of certain, say, forecasting tasks. We also offer agile budgeting and forecasting.


We measure our error rates, so that’s important that someone is planning, especially around supply chain. We’re trying to help people reduce the risks around their future costs.


Supply chains are very complex: time, cost, quality, all sorts of considerations. Our focus is on the cost element of it, and there are many other things and why we’re working with Oracle. They have so many other things to bring to the table that try to complement them on that side.


Michael Krigsman: You met Jon through the Oracle startup program. Just briefly tell us about that.


Tony Nash: Oracle for Startups program is a fantastic way for early-stage companies to integrate with the Oracle ecosystem. There is the Oracle technology product side of it, but there is also meeting people like Jon, meeting people like his colleagues, and the Oracle marketing team, Salesforce, and product teams. Amazing opportunities to understand how an organization like Oracle works and how a company like Complete Intelligence can come alongside them and enhance Oracle’s end customer experience for the better.



How did supply chains function during the disruptions of 2020?


Michael Krigsman: Jon, during the last year, supply chain became a household topic for pretty much everyone.


Jon Chorley: Yes.


Michael Krigsman: What did the last year tell us about the nature and the reality of supply chains?


Jon Chorley: Well, that they’re central to everything that makes the modern world. When you see an empty shelf and realize it’s an issue with the supply chain. Or you see a run on a product as some shortage or some challenge in some way. People now understand that the complicated infrastructure that brings those products to them is the supply chain.


As we’ve gotten into the more recent months where we’re looking at the vaccine distribution, people understand that yes, it’s a technical problem to produce the vaccine, but it’s also a supply chain problem to get it in people’s arms.


All of those things, I think, have helped take the supply chain from the back office, from the folks like Tony and I who work in it day-to-day, into the board room, which I think is very important. But also into the dining room. People now understand the importance and centrality to efficient supply chains.


Michael Krigsman: Jon, give us some insight into the kinds of weaknesses that this last year exposed in how we handle supply chains.


Jon Chorley: I think that there are a couple of areas there that I’d point out. One is we had a very uncharacteristic demand shock. There was a real change in short-term demand.


Some of that was upside. A lot of charcoal sold to power the grill. A lot of toilet paper.


Some of it was downside. Restaurants challenged, hospitality, and so on.


Those demand shocks forced people to look at different ways to look at their traditional forecasts. That is supportable by the kind of technology Tony and I can help deliver, but it does require people to look carefully at how they’re forecasting their demands. That’s one angle.


Another angle, I would say, is the overall concern about resiliency. A lot of folks looked at ways of single sourcing, for example. Maybe relying on goods out of Western China, for example.


All of those things had a lot of challenges, and that forced people to look at, was the single-sourcing strategy driven by cost only the right answer? Did they need to look at A) maybe simplifying their product lines a little bit, so they had more flexibility, and B) looking at alternate sources of supply? I think resiliency came a lot more to the fore.


Tony Nash: We’ve had even companies like semiconductor companies (who have been based in Asia) start to build facilities in the U.S. so that they can regionalize some of those supply chains and de-risk the downturn impacts of future shocks like this. Electronics manufacturers, other people who are assembling goods, or even some primary goods, are regionalizing their supply chains so that they don’t see huge impacts or any future issues like COVID or other shocks.


There’s at least a little bit of a buffer by region, which saves. It’s greener in terms of saving on the sea freight fuel and that sort of thing, but it also helps cushion any shocks on the supply side so consumers can get what they need when they need it.



Challenges associated with overseas manufacturing operations


Michael Krigsman: Jon, I’ve heard you talk in the past about the inherent challenge of manufacturing goods overseas (in China, for example) and the timeliness of getting them here in the U.S.


Jon Chorley: It has a lot of advantages in terms of costs, scale, and so on. But it does bake into your supply chain a certain fixed amount of time. That is fine if you have predictable demand. But if you have variable demand, it becomes a lot trickier to manage.


The same is true really of the innovation cycles. The speed with which you may want to innovate can be constrained by working those things from points of consumption (let’s say Europe, North America) and points of production (let’s say the East, China, Vietnam, and so on). Those are factors folks are considering.


I think, in some areas, certainly advances in things like automation and technologies like 3D printing, rapid prototyping, those things are changing the equation a little bit in terms of what constitutes the most cost-effective or the most efficient, or the most responsive approach to manufacturing. I think you’re going to see those factors gradually have more and more of a play as people develop new ways to balance those equations.


Tony Nash: Michael, that’s interesting because, as we look at how the history of supply chains have evolved from keeping POs on 3×5 notecards 30 years ago to the digitization of that, it started with EDI (electronic data interchange) from, say, the ocean lines and the airfreight firms so that you knew where your package was, all the way down to today where you have everything kept, let’s say, in a bill of material within an ERP system or a supply chain system.


What people have been doing for the past few years is really bill of material versioning, where you’re running scenarios on the same product configuration, of bill of materials for multiple locations, to understand where they should make a certain good. Those considerations are allowing people flexibility. They can make the time and cost tradeoffs to look at when they can have goods in a market, whether it’s seasonality or whether it’s some disruption or whether it’s some demand pop for some reason people may not know. Allowing people to run multiple bills of material or versions of bills of material allows them the flexibility to identify what they should produce where and what it should be made of.


Michael Krigsman: It sounds like this is a data and analytics problem.


Tony Nash: It is, and the way things have been done typically is, as a manufacturer, you sign a longer-term agreement for your raw materials with a vendor. They provide that for you to a certain point. You make it in factory A somewhere and then ship it out. Of course, there is not necessarily a single factory for any large company, but it’s a well-worn path.


We’ve had an atomization of that with mini manufacturing, or regional manufacturing, flexible manufacturing, so people can have localized versions or, like I said, seasonality. These sorts of things. Manufacturing and finance teams can only make those types of decisions with data and with automation. It’s a simpler way on how to make better business decisions.



Digital tansformation and sustainability in supply chain


Michael Krigsman: You need clarity around the goals and the strategy. You need the right kinds of data. Then you need the cultural willingness to innovate and do things differently. Is that an accurate way of summarizing?


Jon Chorley: I agree. I think you need to have some idea of where you’re going. Although, that probably is going to change. But you need to have that idea. You need to have the information, as Tony has discussed, that helps you navigate that path.


Then you need to be able to course-correct because we live in the real world, and nothing quite goes the way you expect it to. You need to be able to constantly course-correct.


Like I say, if you have a great set of headlights, you can see what’s coming. You’re coming to a cliff. If you have no brakes and no steering wheel, it’s a huge problem you’d rather not know.


The ability to course correct is like having brakes and a steering wheel. You need to be able to make those adjustments as things change around you. That means flexible systems, flexible processes, a willingness to look at new ways of doing things, cultural changes. All of those things become important.


Michael Krigsman: Tony, I have to imagine you spend a lot of time thinking about the sources of data as well as the machine learning models and other types of models that you create.


Tony Nash: I get excited about things like data governance, but most people don’t. I get excited about it because I understand that it helps to have much better forecasting applications and tools to make those decisions.


Yes, we’re thinking about the granularity, the frequency, the level of detail people have. Are they using the data that they have to make decisions today because it’s not just, let’s say, a cultural change of let’s rely on automation of things like forward-looking views or forecasting or proactive planning? It could also be a cultural change: are we looking at our data to make our decisions? How much of our data are we looking at? Are we looking at maybe the error rates of the way we plan? Are we looking back on that from time to time?


Although that may seem mundane and small, it’s actually very big for things like digital transformation because you have to take inventory of what you’re doing today so you can plan where you’re going tomorrow. As Jon said, it’s never going to go exactly to plan – never. I wish it would, but it never does. You have to understand yourself well today so that you can identify what’s possible.


Michael Krigsman: Jon, we’ve been talking about the complexities of supply chain. Let’s shift gears slightly and talk about the complexities of sustainability. How does sustainability intersect supply chain?


Jon Chorley: Most people would agree that supply chains are about making and moving physical goods around the world. That is a huge part of what’s impacting the environment. It’s a huge impact on sustainability.


The way we design those supply chains, historically, has been what I would call a linear supply chain. Which is we make a product, we sell a product, we forget the product. We then make another product, sell that product, and forget that product. It’s a fire and forget mentality, if you like – to some degree.


If we want to be sustainable, we need to think about the full lifecycle of those products and how they get recycled back into the forward supply chain. As we progress into the future and start thinking about these things more — and we’re required to by the markets, by regulations (potentially), and by what constitutes good business — we will increasingly move towards adjusting our supply chains to be more circular. That is, looking at the full lifecycle of the product.


That begins with how you design it. That’s going to be a fundamental change in the way we think about all supply chains.


Advice on supply chain transformation for business leaders


Michael Krigsman: As we finish up, Tony, can you offer advice to business leaders and finance teams who are listening to this who say, “Yes, we want to change, transform our supply chain, but where do we even begin? It’s such a daunting challenge.”


Tony Nash: I would say, really start with the easy stuff. Get some successes. Do a pilot. Then you can accelerate it very quickly.


Data scales very quickly. Technology scales very quickly. But your team may be uncomfortable with digital transformation, especially around supply chains. Help them see some quick wins and then push forward as quickly as possible after that.


Michael Krigsman: Jon, you discussed earlier the cultural dimensions of supply chain transformation. It’s really important, so just share some further thoughts on that and advice that you have for folks who are listening.


Jon Chorley: I think any change is at least as much cultural as it is technological, and the people who implement those changes are key to its success. I think part of what’s needed is a willingness to understand that the way you did things in the past may not be the way you need to do things in the future.


Quite often companies, for example, feel that they have a certain special way of doing a process that’s absolutely required, and they hold onto that even though there is really no business differentiation for them to do it that way. They’ll invest a lot of time and energy to duplicate that on a new platform.


We always encourage people to step back a little bit and leave behind some of those preconceptions. Not everything is your secret sauce. Your secret sauce is a little bit on the top. It’s not stuff on the bottom.


Leave behind those preconceptions. I think that’s probably the single biggest cultural shift.


Then the other point we mentioned earlier is board support. I think that’s top-down. Having that support from the upper levels of the business is critical to any large-scale transformation.


I think the great thing, if there is a great thing from 2020, is that boards are aware now of the criticality of supply chains in their business and are probably more open to those kinds of conversations. Those difficult conversations from supply chain professionals with their board. Now is the time. The folks that make the investments now are the folks who are going to benefit from the uptick that we all hope is coming.


Michael Krigsman: Jon Chorley and Tony Nash, thank you both for sharing your expertise with us today.


Jon Chorley: All right.


Tony Nash: Thanks, Michael.


Jon Chorley: Thank you so much. Great talking with you all.


Tony Nash: Thank you.

QuickHit Visual (Videos)

QuickHit: The “Great Pause” and the rise of agile startups

Vice President for Accelerator Investment Fund for Capital Factory, Bryan Chambers, joins Tony Nash for QuickHit’s 15th episode. In this episode, they discuss the making of agile startups, and how they are amidst an economic recession brought on by the COVID pandemic, energy fallout, and other issues. Chambers also talked about The Great Pause. He sees this as a large contributing factor for the future of startups around the globe.


Capital Factory is the center of gravity for entrepreneurs in Texas. They help founders and startups by introducing them to their next investors, their next customers, their next employees. Since 2013, they’ve been the most active VC in the state of Texas, unlocking billions of dollars of new value for startups.


The views and opinions expressed in this QuickHit episode are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any content provided by our guests are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any political party, religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.


Show Notes


TN: How have small, innovative companies been impacted by the various kind of problems we’ve seen over the last four months starting with COVID and then energy fallout? And how are corporates responding to that?


BC: The best entrepreneurs I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with generally have two characteristics: they’re incredibly resourceful and they are very emotionally intelligent individuals. Those are the two critical aspects of entrepreneurs that are also going to help them successfully navigate a global pandemic.


Everybody’s pretty impacted. The impact is significant. And so much that we’ve applied a formula internally called the COVID Impact Score. We ask everybody: how has COVID impacted this business and where is it going? How is it changing? Few people are positively impacted by it. Most people are negatively impacted by it. A few businesses are just neutrally impacted. But most people fall into that first camp, the negatively impacted.


People should be looking in the mirror, thinking very deeply about how do they pivot. How do they capitalize on new opportunities? Regardless of a global pandemic, it’s incredibly hard to build a startup and build a successful organization. This makes it even more difficult, and we’re going to see a lot of companies die faster. But we’ll also see lots of new and exciting innovations be born. We know in the wake of a crisis, major innovation and reform, happen. It’s exciting. But it’s also painful to get there.


It’s the Great Pause. The investment community is confused because our minds always say “no” when it comes to making an investment decision or a purchasing decision. It may not the [fault] of the product or service. We don’t know what’s going to happen in our business next month or next quarter and confused minds say “no”.  And I think there’s a lot of “no” right now.


TN: That’s what we’re seeing in the commercial environment but I think from the investor side, I yearn for the days of Q3 2019 in terms of investment funding. What a beautiful time it was. And it’s just a 180-degrees from that right now. As an entrepreneur and a startup, it’s an interesting time for us. It’s a matter of reorienting who we are. I know Capital Factory is doing the same thing.  Even big corporates are doing the same thing.


That’s what we’re seeing in a lot of the conversations we’re having. Many people aren’t really sure of their short-term priorities, and they just kept moving along. We’re finding opportunities in that, which is great.


Figuring out how to respond to that had been a challenge for us. But now that we’ve cracked it, we feel like we’re really moving ahead, and I’m hoping that those entrepreneurs that you guys are working with, that many of them can do that.


So part of the next step is what are corporates doing? How are corporates innovating through this? Are they relying on Capital Factory companies or external innovations to figure this out, or are they doing that great pause you’re talking about? Or are they just taking their own inventory in-house? Maybe they are trying to figure out where they’re going?


BC: It’s all of the above. Budgets have dried up and confusion still remains. People are scrambling to figure out how to re-prioritize innovation projects. But something so unique is happening in the technology ecosystem, not just in Texas, not just in the nation, but across the world. Innovation cycles are continuously speeding up. They’re getting faster. This only makes Fortune 500 companies more and more susceptible to disruption and more and more uncomfortable.


Any major corporation has two strategies: an internal strategy and an external strategy. They must be thinking about both. How do we improve our own processes, our own efficiencies and continue to innovate and iterate better and faster? But we better look outside our four walls, because startups are coming to eat our lunch. They can do it better and faster than they ever have in the history of the world, and it’s happening.


New business models and new types of firms will emerge. New firms like Capital Factory and our Innovation Council, the service that we help provide to startups and to our Fortune 500 organizations are going to be more prevalent. It is so fast and furious [at this point in time]. No large corporation can [compete] successfully without help from new types of partners.


TN: What we saw initially with COVID, especially, is a wave of fear. Now what we’re starting to see is a wave of humility. We could have done this better. We need to look outside. We need to consider that person inside who had that idea. That initial wave of fear was really two months. People were just reacting and trying to figure out how to survive day-to-day. Now they’re taking stock and looking back so they can figure out what their next step is.


How do you see corporates operating with external innovative companies going forward? Do you see more action there? Do you see more interest there? Do you see the return of corporate VC arm in any large company?


BC: Corporations need to be great at executing low-cost, low-risk proof-of-concepts in a non-production environment. We’re going to need to do integrations with lots of startups and rapidly test. Then [they will need to] choose the ones that work well and scale with them, if not acquire them, invest in them or support them.


The global pandemic has brought that confusion which has brought a temporary pause. But we’re going to see it continue to accelerate, and we’re going to see it accelerate in all areas. Organizations will be be forced to start engaging earlier with startups. We’re going to see more corporate venture capital dollars begin to flow.


Big corporations, now for the first time, are turning around thinking, “Oh my gosh, that startup can really compete with us and we´re Microsoft.” That statement is more true now than it ever has been. It’s only that level of innovation that will continue to benefit the agile, resourceful startups.

News Articles

Economic Outlook Conference 2020 in The Woodlands Highlights Local Economy

THE WOODLANDS, TX – “Innovative Solutions in a Diverse Community,” was the theme of the 2020 Economic Outlook Conference. The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce organizes the event annually to provide community members with insight as to how the economy is expected to perform each year.

Congressman Kevin Brady started the morning with a national update. He discussed tax reform, job growth in the United States, record low unemployment rates, the need for our country to win the innovation race, as well as factors that are halting our growth.

“The biggest obstacle of growth in America is our workforce,” he said. “Not having the workers we need is already slowing growth right now in America. It is slowing corporate growth, it is slowing small business growth … Nine of ten companies that hire blue-collar workers can’t find the workers they need. We’ve got to solve this problem if we want stronger growth over the next decade for the United States,” he said.

Gil P. Staley, CEO of The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership continued the day with a community/regional update. He announced that healthcare is now the largest employment sector in our service area; growing from 24 percent in 2019 to 26 percent in 2020. The second largest employment sector is energy at 22.4 percent, and the third is education at 17.8 percent. Healthcare represents 40 percent of the Top Major Employers, with 10,027 jobs.

The Top Ten Major Employers (Non-Retail) in order are as follows: Conroe Independent School District, Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center, ExxonMobil, Occidental, CHI St. Luke’s Health – The Woodlands Hospital, Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital, Alight Solutions, Lone Star College – Montgomery, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, and Huntsman Corporation.

Senior Economist at the Houston Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Jesse Thompson, provided an economy update. His main conclusion: Houston’s economy in 2020 is predicted to be, “positive, modest, but certainly not booming”.

Following Thompson’s presentation, an innovation panel, compiled of four executives, discussed how the latest trends in innovation help businesses solve economic issues. Innovation panelists included: Clint Brinkley, CEO of Your Business Solutions; Ashok Gowda, president and CEO, of Biotex, Inc.; Deanea LeFlore, senior director of corporate and community engagement for The Ion; and Tony Nash, founder and CEO of Complete Intelligence.

The afternoon concluded with a luncheon where keynote speaker, Dr. Renu Khator inspired the audience with her life story. Dr. Khator is Chancellor of University of Houston System and President of University of Houston. Within three years, she was able to establish UofH as a Tier One university.

Between intelligent speakers, and numerous networking opportunities, the Economic Outlook Conference 2020 provided an enlightening and productive experience for all involved.


This press release first appeared in Woodlands Online here:

News Articles

The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce to Host Annual Economic Outlook Conference February 21

THE WOODLANDS, TX — The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, the largest business association in Greater Houston, will host the 34th Annual Economic Outlook Conference on Friday, February 21, 2020, at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center.


This year’s conference, themed “Innovative Solutions in a Diverse Community,” will feature a community, national and economy update, a CEO panel focused on technology and innovation, and keynotes highlighting the projected growth of the economy in Montgomery County and beyond.


Tickets are on sale now at for $199 and Chamber members receive a discounted price of $169.


“The Chamber’s Economic Outlook Conference not only features economic experts who share valuable information for business leaders about current events and the future of the economy, it also offers a business expo that provides sponsors and attendees the opportunity to engage in one-on-one conversations with more than 700 professionals,” Margo McZeal, director of governmental affairs for The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, said.


Renu Khator, the University of Houston System Chancellor and the University of Houston President, will give a keynote presentation.


A highlight of the 2020 event includes an Innovation Panel where four CEOs will discuss how the latest trends in innovation are helping to solve economic issues. Panelists include Clint Brinkley, Your Business Solutions CEO; Ashok Gowda, Biotex, Inc. president and CEO; Tony Nash, Complete Intelligence founder and CEO; and Gabriella ‘Gaby’ Rowe, The Ion executive director will discuss how the latest trends in innovation are helping businesses to solve economic issues.


Read the rest of the press release at Woodlands Online. 

News Articles

3 Houston innovators to know this week

This year, Houston’s innovation ecosystem is set to change tenfold — from the rise of 5G to burgeoning startup and entrepreneurial hubs emerging across town. Today’s featured Houston innovators know a bit about these movements — from an entrepreneur using artificial intelligence in data management for his clients to a banking exec who went all-in on startups.


Tony Nash, founder and CEO of Complete Intelligence


Every company wishes they have a crystal ball when it comes to making business decisions, and while a physical iteration of that wish isn’t possible, Tony Nash has developed the next best thing for his clients at his startup, Complete Intelligence.


Founded in 2015, Complete Intelligence is an AI platform that forecasts assets and allows evaluation of currencies, commodities, equity indices and economics. The Woodlands-based company also does advanced procurement and revenue for corporate clients.


“We’ve spent a couple years building this,” says Nash in a recent InnovationMap interview. “We have a platform that is helping clients with planning, to simplify finance, procurement and sales and a host of other things. … We built a model of the global economy and transactions across the global economy, so it’s a very large, very detailed artificial intelligence platform.” 


Read the full story here.