The CSCMP EDGE Conference is one of the most popular supply chain conferences in the industry. For years, the conference has delivered the most relevant content, discussions, and resources all in the name of supply chain’s future and that of its leaders. Three MSCM Foster students attended the conference this year as recipients of the Puget Sound Roundtable scholarship for Future Leaders. Our students returned from the four day conference with valuable insights and a new community of supply chain professionals to lean on. MSCM students, Kathy Tuan and Michael Mathew, share more about this year’s most talked about topics and their takeaways.
Innovation and Adaptivity in the Supply Chain Industry
This year, the theme at the CSCMP EDGE conference was innovation and adaptivity for the supply chain industry. “The theme felt very relevant,” shared Kathy. “We have seen a lot of changes in technological implementation, consumer behavior, and expectation in the last two decades.” All over the world, companies are reckoning with the heightened demands of the landscape and forced to adapt their supply chains to match consumer expectations and behavior. “One example of a major change in consumer behavior can be seen in the impact Amazon is having on world industry,” explained Michael. “Most of us are Amazon customers and once we get used to their customer experience, we expect that from all companies. Take delivery for example, we expect delivery within three days. That’s the norm now, and it’s fascinating!”
Consumer behavior is one of many areas where supply chain has been affected, other changing landscapes (and therefore hot topics) included the evolvement of forecasting, effects of globalization, privacy in the age of machine learning and AI, and environmental impact in sourcing. “We know that supply chains have tiers, but I was surprised to learn how much a mistake at the lower end of a supply chain affects the final OEM,” said Michael. He also explained how globalization has led to more outsourcing and less knowledge of the handling of raw materials. In another session, he listened to speakers talk about the limitations of predictive models in forecasting. The gist: experiments have proven that predictive models are not able to stand alone, yet. Human intervention is still necessary to accommodate for bigger mistakes. Kathy noted that nearly every speaker touched on environmental impact and almost across the line, small and medium sized businesses faulted cost as a barrier to more responsible sourcing practices.
Soft Skills Are Still Important
While there is no doubt that technology, like automation, is booming in all subsects of the industry, a key theme that resurfaced in many talks was the importance of soft skills in a data and tech filled industry. “Data and high level strategies are powerful,” shared Kathy, “but it’s important not to lose sight of what we can learn from turning to a coworker, business partner, or someone in the day-to-day operations, and asking for feedback. We have to take the time to listen to those around us because they are the people who will help identify the root of a problem and give the most accurate picture of the strengths and shortcomings of a business.” Although it is not a cutting-edge strategy, listening has proven to be a timeless soft skill in any relationship-reliant setting such as supply chain management.
CSCMP EDGE Conference Shows Tech Booms, But People Still Lead
Overall, the 2019 CSCMP EDGE Conference left one key impression on attendees: it may seem like tech is taking over all corners of the industry, but people are still needed to lead the charge. MSCM is excited to have participated in this year’s conference and to be part of the molding of future leaders in supply chain.
Read last year’s conference highlights on making connections and finding mentors.