Connecting CSCMP's Global Dots
Today, Georgia is not only on my mind, but on the minds of over 3,000 supply chain management professionals convening in Atlanta to kick off this year’s Annual Global Conference. I always look forward to this conference as it is the single largest gathering each year of people from around the world who share a common interest in education and in the advancement of the global supply chain management discipline. It’s not industry-specific, so my neighbor in an educational session on network optimization could be thinking about how the topic applies to his global apparel supply chain, and my other neighbor may be re-tooling her approach to how she manages perishability in her fresh food supply chain.
Personally, for me, Georgia has also been on my mind as it is a brief homecoming three-quarters of the way through my two-year expat assignment in The Netherlands. My time overseas has afforded me some excellent opportunities, including serving in a leadership capacity on the Board of the CSCMP Benelux Roundtable. Also, in June, I had the opportunity to attend CSCMP India’s first annual conference. While I have had plenty of experience working with clients to innovate their global supply chains throughout my career, this time living abroad has taught me a lot of valuable lessons and given me new perspectives.
For the most part, we in the supply chain management world are having the same conversation around the world. Cash flow, currency stability, environmental sustainability, disaster recovery, contingency planning, fuel sources and pricing – these challenges are on the minds of supply chain professionals everywhere. So, let’s look for some differences in our conversations – in importance, urgency, or severity that may be spurring faster innovation than average.
Japanese companies manufacturing in China are suddenly facing the very urgent need to shift to non-China supply sources to continue to satisfy global demand during this time when employee security is threatened by violent anti-Japan protests. US-based providers to the defense industry are making plans A, B, and C in the event the expected sequestration spending cuts come to fruition, there is a change in the Oval Office, or Arab Spring continues to strengthen requiring stepped-up US involvement. Companies in Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, Turkey, and New Zealand that have been impacted by deadly natural disasters recently, are re-examining their infrastructure and global footprint so they can re-gain pre-disaster market positions and be prepared for future risks. Companies buying, selling, or operating in the European Union are looking for innovative solutions around supply chain financing, exchange rate fluctuation, and making smarter nearshoring decisions. Indian companies continue to struggle to solve the challenge of developing their infrastructure proportionately with their growth in an environmentally sustainable way. The list goes on and on.
While this annual conference offers our protégés the chance to attend a session on supply chain basics or hear for the first time how RFID adoption is right around the corner, it also provides a forum where seasoned professionals learn, share, and invent new solutions through dialogue. Need more inventory turns? Talk to someone who ships lettuce around the world. Curious about your company’s risk management plans? Learn what tools, processes, and approach your Japanese counterparts are using these days. India’s ports particularly painful for your company? Speak to a Dutch attendee knowledgeable about capacity improvements planned for the Port of Rotterdam and improve your ability to predict when and if India’s ports will catch up. Losing your A players to your customers or competitors? Learn what it takes to retain and develop tomorrow’s top talent by attending the many sessions on this topic.
So, this unique opportunity to come together each year with people from all over the globe and vastly different industries, is extremely valuable to me because of what we share – a thirst for deeper knowledge and accelerated advancement in how to most effectively, sustainably, profitably, and rapidly match supply and demand in our ever-changing world. At this conference, we get a few days away from agendas driven by politics, profit, and even our own company’s priorities – it’s all about listening, learning, hypothesizing, debating, and creating new ideas and plans with the help of that narrow portion of the world’s population that prides themselves Supply Chain Management Professionals.
Which sessions or tracks will you be attending at the conference? In the spirit of CSCMP’s mission of knowledge sharing, why not share a few supply chain topics or challenges that are on your mind that you hope this year’s conference will help you solve?