I had the opportunity to participate in the Supply Chain World North America conference this week, the annual conference of the Supply-Chain Operations Council (SCOR), an independent member-supported organization with over 300 corporate and other members.  The theme of this year’s conference was Enabling Game Changing Strategies for Supply Chain Management, and there were a number of vary interesting presentations which I will highlight in some future posts.

This Part 1 post highlights a panel discussion that I had the opportunity to co-moderate, which was an opportunity for our audience to hear first hand accounts from supply chain executives regarding what’s actually happening day-to-day across various industry environments.  The three panelists were:

  • Mary Long, Director of Customer Services and Collaborative Supply Chain Strategies for Campbell Soup
  • Michael Hadley, Senior Manager for Material Management for The Boeing Company
  • Simon Ellis, Practice Director for Supply chain Strategies at IDC Manufacturing Insights, and former Supply Chain Strategy Director at Unilever USA

Five common themes were articulated from our panelists, themes which I believe many supply chain managers will relate to:

  • Increasingly uncertain business conditions and supply chain events have placed even more emphasis on overall supply chain cost reduction, as well as a renewed focus on back to basics in supply chain service and order fulfillment execution. Mary Long also spoke to recent recall and product safety issues which have resulted in heightened consumer awareness around insuring freshness and food safety.
  • Longer and more complex global supply chains have added new challenges for insuring flawless customer service, as well as meeting cost goals. Certain commodities are either in short supply, or have experienced unprecedented cost increase. This particular theme was also brought out in a separate session outlining benchmarking data captured by the Performance Management Group arm of benchmarking firm PRTM.
  • Data proliferation- our panelists spoke to a current “blizzard of data” and not enough quality information. Simon Ellis expressed this as a struggle for what should managers really look at, what should be prioritized for meaningful information, and what really is the best strategy for management analytics.
  • Emerging needs for sustainability and green supply chain initiatives are becoming more important for businesses, and these initiatives have the potential to bring value, and overall make good business sense.
  • A final theme was concern around the shrinking labor pool for talented supply chain professionals, both in the U.S. and other geographic regions. As a sidelight, SCOR has been sponsoring a multi-company initiative to address key supply chain skills areas, and how to attract more graduates to this profession.

I thank the panelists as well as our session attendees for an interesting hour of discussion.