SCOPE Spring Conference - Chicago - Report 2

What is the trend for the best performing Supply Chains today and into the future? - by Mark Hewitt
I attended the SCOPE conference in Chicago with an expectation to discover the next big thing. Was there a new gadget or technology that was going to revolutionize business? Perhaps something like barcoding was about to be superseded? Was there a breakthrough and something everyone must be doing for their organization to remain successful? What I learnt wasn’t what I expected. The more I reflect on the education sessions, the one on one meetings with exhibitors and time spent with other delegates, the more I realized there is a common direction to be embraced. 
I asked several delegates, “So why are you here?” and the answers were varied:
Over the two days, the questions were addressed although the answers weren't what was expected.
WHAT WE DISCUSSED
The scene for the conference was set by Roddy Martin from CCI, Steve Sigrist from Newell Rubbermaid, Scott Mason from Stepan Company and David Ecklund from the University of Tennessee. With a show of hands, the delegates confirmed that, for most, their journey was somewhere between running projects for improvements to the early stages of Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP). The end game being a complete end to end Supply Chain, where demand is shaped rather just met. Across the journey the enablers of talent and change management capability were identified as the areas that “keep the organization's leaders up at night”.
S&OP, is where all players within the organization regularly come together with one goal and focus on business outcomes rather than traditional functional results (breaking silo thinking). Planning is underpinned with information. Driving the forum is the Supply Chain people, since they are more tuned with the management of an analytical basis for discussion (that’s what we do) and also having direct control of the capability to satisfy demand. In a Utility business, the customer facing component (which is Sales for many other industries), the forum would consist of members from the Program of Works as well as Field and Project Leaders.
The need to continuously adapt to how a business is conducted was uniformly accepted and driven by, amongst other influences, globalization and the technology used today for how we communicate and interact. I talked to Paul Schmuddle from Gateway Express whose business was created by recognizing both of these influences. From Flextronics’s Ronald Tarter presentation on the Global Marketplace, I learned more about sourcing across many emerging Asian countries.  Although China is still the dominate manufacturer it isn’t always the best choice.

HOW IT WAS RECEIVED

It was “a given” to all in attendance that change was necessary, and that some part of our organizations back home was an “ugly baby”.

But what did that mean for our current priorities and what does the future hold for how the Supply Chain will best serve the organisations of tomorrow?  Report 3 will continue my own journey of discovery at SCOPE Spring.

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