Importance of Decision Velocity: Insights from ETQ CEO Vick Vaishnavi

Chris Nahil
By Chris Nahil on September 11, 2023

Vick Vaishnavi came to the United States from India at the age of 21 with $4 in his pocket, determined to make ‘the land of opportunity’ his new home. Fast forward to earlier this year when he joined ETQ as CEO and brought with him 30-plus years of leadership in enterprise markets and a fundamental belief that leadership and learning go hand in hand.

We spoke to Vick recently as part of our Executive Spotlight series to get his insights on quality as the center of gravity within an organization, the importance of decision velocity, and why the manufacturers that can achieve it win.

Why did you decide to join ETQ?

I knew that my next opportunity needed to be the right mix of technology, market, business opportunities and people. Most people trivialize that last piece. I believe people make a company rather than the other way around. You can have the best product, excellent market opportunities and still fail if you don’t have the right people to execute a cohesive, well-orchestrated strategy. I saw that ETQ had the right people and that, together with its market-leading quality management solutions and expanding global opportunities, got me excited about the company.

There has been a renewed focus on quality. What are some key factors driving this?

There are numerous drivers, such as the pandemic. While many of us hunkered down in our home offices, logged onto zoom, and weathered the COVID-19 storm, manufacturers got hit hard. Global shipping and supply chains were severely impacted in ways we’ll be feeling for years to come. Take for example, semiconductors. Fabrication plants sat idle during the pandemic. Today, they are working in overdrive to unclog their backlog of orders and accelerate their time to market. This is a time when quality processes are more important than ever to avoid poor product quality, minimize business disruption and brand risk, and meet or exceed customer expectations for getting products faster than ever before with no degradation of quality.

Shifting geo-political economics is another factor forcing a renewed focus on quality. When you consider the war in Ukraine alone, 18+ months in and it continues to have a major impact on manufacturers and global supply chains. This is where decision velocity and a laser focus on quality processes comes into play. Today more than ever, manufacturers need automated, connected processes to ensure a reliable source of truth for all quality and supplier data.

What is Decision Velocity and why is it important?

Decision velocity is the speed and accuracy at which you can make smart decisions. Note that velocity is not just about speed. It’s about making smart decisions that optimize quality across suppliers, equipment, even workers. There has to be decision velocity not only across the enterprise, but also in the supply chain.

Decision velocity is built on three pillars: automation, analytics (converting data into information to make smart, actionable decisions), and next-generation technologies such as AI and machine learning. Automation and analytics need to be driven by modern technologies like AI and ML that allow you to absorb and curate vast amounts of data before you can make the best decisions. Manufacturers improve their decision velocity by delivering trusted prescriptive and predictive information using analytics, automation and AI.

Where are quality processes most important within an organization?

Quality touches all phases and roles within a product lifecycle – from the design teams to the production floor, and its essential that all connected workers have the most up to date information and data. The importance of this cannot be overstated. If, for example, I am in charge of enterprise resource planning for my company and there is a production problem resulting in a high defect rate. I need to know that early because it impacts our suppliers and the cost of goods sold. Unless I know we have a quality problem, I will continue operating as usual, without the most up-to-date information. Meanwhile, revenue is compromised, costs are inflated and there is a negative impact on supplier relationships and the company’s reputation. Those disconnects exist in many organizations.

A robust QMS links connected workers to quality processes across the organization. It also enables quality automation, minimizes human error, and ensures compliance, effective management of suppliers and quality throughout product life cycles across business processes.

What changes do you foresee for U.S.-based manufacturing?

I think we’re on the verge of a major surge in US-based manufacturing, with the U.S. bringing high-value manufacturing, such as semiconductors, onshore. Highly skilled labor, significant financial investment and a strong focus on quality will drive that growth.

I also see ever-more complex supply chains and a big appetite to ensure quality is the center of gravity for all decisions. The next frontier will be around making decisions smarter and faster. The trick is how do you do both. We are already seeing emerging manufacturing leaders understand how to strike that balance.

Tomorrow’s success stories will be written by those companies that meet or exceed customer expectations with the highest quality products and ensure that quality is tightly integrated into every business process and every functional level within an organization– from the C-suite to the production floor.

What do you enjoy doing in your limited spare time?

I enjoy reading about history – all aspects of global history, as well as business and leadership. I’m also fascinated with data and metrics. Another hobby of mine is Vedic Astrology. During the pandemic, I taught myself Ancient Indian Vedic Astrological Computational Science. It’s mathematical in nature and speaks to my analytical side, as well as drawing on my engineering background and interest in physics.