This particular Supply Chain Matters commentary is focused on readers representing sales and marketing roles associated with various supply chain management advanced technologies.

Specifically, with the growing outbreak of novel COVID-19 coronavirus across global regions, many government agencies are prudently advising, and in some cases, ordering, that large public assemblies of citizens be curtailed for the time being. This development comes as the Spring technology and industry conference season was beginning to ramp-up. This Editor, like many of you, has experienced a series of email notifications of technology and industry conferences postponements or cancellations. Covid-19 Coronavirus

Like many global supply chain management teams across the globe, sales and marketing teams will now have to improvise and be more creative in getting their messages out and in identifying prospective customers. Business activity does not stop, bur rather is conducted by more innovative methods and means.

Business priorities of customers also change in times of crisis.

We are penning this commentary because too often, we run across technology and service provider sales and marketing teams that are overly vested in conference events. The notions of meeting people face-to-face, the gathering of potential prospects in lunch, dinner or private reception settings have been enshrined among certain sales teams. Some argue that broad attendance and presence at such events are necessary to ensure a robust pipeline of inbound leads, or to secure the pulse of what supply chain management teams are most concerned about in supporting specific business support needs.

This supply chain management technology analyst has often been amazed with the knowledge of what some sales and marketing teams have been budgeting for in-person events, including team travel, booth sponsorship and other expenses. That invariably raises the question of return-on-investment in terms of genuine lead generation. But, that remains conversation for another day.

Whether one prescribes to the conference venue or not, the stark reality is that with all black swan or unplanned developments, the conference route is suddenly off the table, at least for now.

The good news is that we are observing marketing teams that are responding creatively to the ongoing virus outbreak by turning planned conferences into virtual online events, often with short notice. Yesterday, we tuned into a four-hour online conference where scheduled speakers were able to deliver their key messages. We alerted readers to changed virtual delivery plans related to Oracle’s upcoming Modern Business Experience Conference, and their will likely be more of such alerts.

We further observe that marketing leaders are actively investigating means to convert marketing opportunities and event strategies to more meaningful online and interactive events.

Indeed, this is all goodness.

However, we have additional thoughts to share for consideration.

Many technology providers have been utilizing internal blogs as a means to communicate product messaging. Candidly, some are good, some not so good.

As many marketing teams well know, the challenge comes down to who is responsible to author individual blogs. If it turns out to be concentrated on marketing team members, then the content invariably turns out to be marketing template content. Some firms attempt to recruit or rely on employees who interact with customers on a daily basis, or on technical applications staff as blog authors. That can often lead to good meaningful content. But the reality is, writing blogs is not their full-time job, and neither should it be in normal times.

Ladies and gentlemen, we hate to once again break this news, but many supply chain management focused readers have little tolerance for obvious marketing spin, whether in-person PowerPoint or internal blog generated. Instead, they seek education, knowledge and insights as to what technologies can best address their most demanding business challenges, or what other companies may be experiencing in leveraging certain technologies in specific process areas.

Right now, with this ongoing virus induced disruption, the focus is clearly near-term focused, namely, how to best manage and respond to the disruption. In that context, a message to fellow industry analyst firms: at this juncture, businesses are not tuned into what will happen in areas of technology 4-5 years hence, they instead need to address tactical strategies  in the year 2020 that insure that lines-of-businesses can weather the significant dual impacts of both product demand and supply network disruptions.

And yes, they seek independent thought leaders who can cut through the market hype and provide the needed information as to what technologies are the most appropriate for addressing the business or supply chain challenge. That includes obtaining such insights without the need of having to navigate industry analyst handlers or analyst subscription level status.

There is a reason why blog such as Supply Chain Matters are consistently rated as top-of-mind reading. And yes, we just know that there are readers who upon reading the prior sentence will challenge: is that not your own marketing spin?

Our response is that we will let our content and insights speak for us.

Before we are bombarded with additional requests as to whether we will perform as ghost writers, the answer is no. That is not our role, and that is not independent thought leadership.

We will however lend assistance in helping your team come up with ways to better communicate online and address the real burning topics within supply chain management. We will further be available to lend assistance in understanding the best means to communicating messaging and insights that businesses and their associated supply chain management teams are most concerned about, by sharing insights on this platform, or speaking with audiences in online venues.

Now is the time for all of us to be creative in conducting business, and in addressing ongoing supply chain management challenges through greater use of online mechanisms. Our focus needs to center on assisting all teams in every aspect of supply chain management to insure that needed products are available for populations, healthcare and emergency response providers, and others, by innovative means.

Let us all get on with the task of online sharing needed knowledge and insights.


Bob Ferrari

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