Orlando, September 27, 2016 – I am in Orlando at the CSCMP Annual Conference among about 3000 other attendees from all disciplines of the supply chain. As most of the readers of this blog know, CSCMP, with its 8500 members from 67 countries, has been the leading supply chain organization for over 50 years. After 10 years of flat or declining attendance, this year’s turnout is the largest since 2007. Besides several general sessions and a well populated exhibit hall, there were 16 tracks, containing 96 educational sessions covering the entire supply chain spectrum.
The meeting was keynoted by Captain Scott Kelly, history making astronaut, who just returned from almost a year aboard the international space station. Although his presentation was intended to be motivational, it consisted primarily of anecdotes about his life, how he got to this point, and the trials and tribulations he went through to do so. The entire audience was fascinated by the details of his 340 days in outer space, an experience that most of us can only imagine.
The exhibit hall was packed with almost 200 booths demonstrating the products and services of supply chain firms from the U.S. and abroad. The collection of exhibits was truly a sign of the times with probably 90% of the companies represented selling software or other forms of supply chain technology. While there were a handful of other types of logistics firms in the hall, they were a rare sight.
The educational sessions reflected this bias, as well. Most were discussions of how firms are utilizing technology to solve problems. In my opinion, the entire conference could have been labeled the supply chain technology conference, and it is clear that most of those attending were seeking this kind of education. For example, I attended a session about negotiating contracts with logistics service providers, conducted by experts in the field. Five years ago, there would have been a standing room only crowd. Today there were 8 of us.
One non- technical highlight however, was the release of the 21st annual “State of Logistics Outsourcing” report. This report confirmed the growing importance of logistics service providers in the supply chain. There has been continued improvement in the strategic nature of relationships between users and LSPs; and both groups of respondents reported that their relationships were yielding positive results. LSPs are getting more tactical and are contributing to the solutions rather than just doing what they are told. In summary, it appears that the future of outsourcing relationships is bright. This 62 page report is well worth reading and is available from Dr. C. John Langley Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, if you have not attended a CSCMP conference lately, I strongly urge you to do. It is difficult to keep up with supply chain developments today, and this is a good way to so. The 2017 conference will be held in Atlanta.