This is a second posting regarding activities at the 2010 Supply Chain Council Executive Summit being held here in Houston.  The theme of this year’s Summit is the New Realities for Supply Chain Excellence and that certainly came to the fore in the morning sessions for day one.

This morning’s sessions featured speakers from both totally outsourced and totally in-sourced supply chain environments. The highlight for me was a vary insightful presentation delivered by Don Esses, Vice President Supply Chain for Qualcomm, which resides in the lower tier of the mobile communications market.  There are few industries experiencing volatility as much as mobile devices has these past months, and it was no surprise that Don focused a lot of his talk on the capabilities required for Qualcomm to be responsive for its customers.  The listing of these capabilities included among others, a simplicity in supply chain flows, a keen sales and operations planning (S&OP) process and closer management of suppliers and customers.  When asked where the bulk of his time is spent, Don responded that it is with key customers vs. suppliers.  Qualcomm’s S&OP process also has to support long-term capacity planning for semiconductor fabrication needs but often weekly and daily unplanned customer requirements driven by the dynamics of the smartphone and mobile devices market.

Other morning speakers reinforced that volatility and variability are the new normal for supply chain management.  Economist Luciana Suran of CB Richard Ellis Econometric Advisors noted how severe inventory was cut as a result of the recent global recession, but interestingly enough how inventory levels equate to predictable patterns of demand for warehousing and industrial space.  When asked if the current economic signs point to a double-dip recession, Ms. Suran noted that rather than classic double-dip, it is more like trolling along the bottom.

Attendees were also provided an emerging markets supply chain perspective through the lens of Ram Ramakrishnan, Executive Director of one of India’s largest diversified small appliance and lighting providers, Bajaj Electricals Ltd.  Ram was very passionate in his talk and provided a great perspective on the current and future potential within India’s emerging consumer markets, along with the associated supply chain challenges.

Bob Ferrari