Day one of the Supply Chain World North America Conference featured a variety of interesting and insightful presentation as well as the opportunity to renew old and make new acquaintances.

This morning’s keynote delivered by Tom Davenport, Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College was titled Competing on Supply Chain Analytics.  This was a very timely presentation given the messages we heard at last week’s SAP Sapphire conference regarding an upcoming era of in-memory computing and broader, faster analytical computing capabilities.  Key takeaways from Professor Davenport talk included messages that good data and executive leadership are the most important pre-requisites for meaningful analytics, insuring that all supply chain analytics are tied to specific decisions and desired outcomes.  Also emphasized was that organizations often tend to dwell more on descriptive analytics (what is occurring or has occurred) vs. prescriptive analytics (what’s the best set of probable outcomes).

Throughout the day we had the opportunity to attend different sessions that included Dow Chemical’s strategies and commitment toward driving social and environmental values across the supply chain, Lenovo’s efforts to segment its supply chain design and fulfillment outcomes, along with Motorola Mobility Division’s ongoing supply chain transformation.

This afternoon featured an executive panel discussing current challenges of the post-recessionary supply chain. Panel participants identified supply chain security and risk management, increased regulatory compliance, a growing gap in supply chain talent and transformation to the “new normal’ of business as common cross-industry challenges.  Dave Malenfant, Vice President, Global Supply Chain for Alcon Laboratories made a very astute statement.  Dave observed that after supply chains were ripped apart during the recession, many may believe that returning to previous structures and organizational norms are the path forward.  Dave emphatically declared that this is not going to work since this new era requires a far different set of organizational capabilities and supply chain process responsiveness.  All of the panelists also reinforced the growing gap in management skills in end-to-end supply chain management, particularly in the growing emerging market regions.

Day one concluded with the announcement of the 2011 Supply Chain Council North America Awards for ExcellenceSupply Chain Matters echoes congratulations to the 2011 award recipients:


For Operations Excellence: Celestica and their Project FireFox initiatives in dramatically improving inventory turns and ROIC.


For Academic Achievement: The University of Tennessee and performance based procurement initiative developed for the U.S. Air Force


For Technology Advancement: SAP and its efforts with Coca Cola to implement SAP Business Objects Supply Chain Performance Management for supply chain wide analytics.


For Defense Sector Operational Excellence: U.S. Air Force Global Logistics Support Center for its initiatives in supporting combat operations.


A very busy day indeed at Supply Chain World North America.

Bob Ferrari