NextGen Supply Chain:  Keeping Pace with the Digital Economy

In sticking with tradition, we removed ourselves from the “end-of-year prediction” business and have instead put together an educational experience that offers practical advice to help you transform your operations for the future—and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your office.

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This year, the editorial teams of Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review have programed a Virtual Summit that we’ve titled “NextGen Supply Chain: Keeping Pace with the Digital Economy.” While the title may sound a bit theoretical, our intention is to help logistics and supply chain professionals make sense of the trending concepts being bandied about in webcasts and conferences—not throw more theory at you.

“All too often our readers are being told that their logistics and supply chain operations need to be in the midst of a ‘digital transformation,’ yet they’re not gaining the practical understanding of what that actually means and how they should be going about it,” says Bob Trebilcock, editorial director of sister publication Supply Chain Management Review. “In this year’s Virtual Summit, we plan to set the record straight and put the hype into context.”

Indeed, we not only define the trending terms, but we illustrate the benefits of those concepts and offer some real-world advice for how to get there. In his keynote address, PS Subramaniam, principal at global consulting firm A.T. Kearney, perfectly sets the tone of this year’s event.

“Today’s logistics and supply chain professionals can’t allow themselves to be intimidated by the new terminology,” declares Subramaniam. “In fact, the digital transformation is enabled by the technology tools that already exist and are in use in many operations. So, it’s up to you to engage your team in those projects that can be rolled out quickly and can deliver tangible outcomes without having to predict the future or rewire your entire IT infrastructure.”

Subramaniam calls these smaller projects “digital sprints,” and stresses that you’re either going to “fail quickly,” which is absolutely acceptable, or realize some measure of success. “And when you do realize a tangible result, this only builds confidence and allows you to fund that next round of innovation.” In his address, he shares two real-world examples of successful sprints—one inventory specific and one on freight payment—that have set the transformation ball rolling in two organizations.

One of the more-hyped and misunderstood innovations currently being considered across complex global supply chains is blockchain—a continuously growing, shared ledger technology that can help enterprise business manage complex issues.

In his session “The Benefits of Blockchain: Fact or Wishful Thinking?” Ken Cottrill, research marketing and development lead at MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, sets out to finally demystify the technology behind it and explain its massive potential in supply chain management.

“Proof of concepts are already underway to apply blockchain to supply chain management, and it’s not going away any time soon,” says Cottrill. Still, he explains that blockchains aren’t magical. “In essence, they’re another type of spreadsheet, but the technology excels in areas that are critical to the performance of supply chains, as it can be married with potentially ground-breaking innovations such as Internet of Things and extended global trade transactions.”

And, that’s just scratching the surface of the seven sessions designed to define the new concepts and solutions that are helping logistics and supply chain operations create complex, yet seamless logistics and supply chain networks comprised of connected customers, suppliers, competitors, carriers and third-party providers.  

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Digitization · NextGen · All Topics
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