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A Mile Wide and a Millimeter Deep

This week, I attended the Annual Council of Supply Chain Management Event in San Diego.  Speaking at eight of the last nine CSCMP event, I am a veteran. It is one of the largest supply chain events in North America. The mood and attendance at the event is usually an accurate predictor for technology spending in supply chain applications.  So what was it like?.  Attendance was up this year by 33%, but the mood was stayed.  More people, but not  a lot of excitement.

What did I think of the conference?

In large, it was supply chain management for the masses.  The program was light on new content.  Over the years CSCMP has slowly succumbed to taking on more vendor presence and becoming a trade-show.  As I walk the halls, I long for  the deep insightful studies and the testimonials by industry veterans.  Instead, the agenda is peppered with more and more vendor presentations; and less and less true content.

Great first day speaker. I liked the opening keynote speaker, The Honorable Carlos M. Gutierrez, Former Secretary of the US Department of Commerce.  Mr. Guiterrez, a prior CEO of Kellogg’s,  is not stranger to supply chain management. He spoke on trade and cautioned the audience to be more open for international trade alliances. However,  I thought the highlight of his speech was his appeal to the audience to “speak less supply chain geek speak.”  He spoke openly of witnessing well-intended, bright teams give supply chain presentations full of acronyms, arrows and boxes that failed to hit the mark with the executive audience.  A salient piece of feedback for the packed audience.  We need to all learn how to better communicate our trade.

Support of the Industry. The greatest gap for supply chain excellence is talent.  The CSCMP organization does an exceptional job of involving student interns and allowing them more exposure to supply chain management through the program. 

A Mile Wide and a Millimeter Deep.  It is hard to cover the event.  There are twenty concurrent tracks.  In the old days, there were so MANY GOOD topics, it was hard to chose which to attend.  This year, I heard many attendees say,  “So many sessions, but not one that I want to attend. ”  Sadly, there just was not much there there. 

Summary

So in short, it was great to see old friends.  I enjoyed networking and catching-up on industry happenings. It was a great program for student interns, an average program for the newly hired supply chain professional, but the event did not propel the industry to new heights.  Better luck next year….

What did you think?  Did you attend?  How do you think that CSCMP could improve the program?

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