This posting is our third and final summary commentary regarding the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCM) 2011 Annual Conference being held this week in Philadelphia.

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Please reference our previous day one and day two commentaries for other highlights.

Today’s agenda was rather light consisting on just one 90 minute mega session and some closing conference remarks and awards ceremonies. The abbreviated agenda we believe caused many to leave the evening before and the corridors and auditorium looked much thinner today.

In any case, we attended a very informative and interactive session discussing the current and future use of social media across supply chains.  Because the session was so interesting, we decided to dedicate a separate commentary.

Supply Chain Matters has been attending the Annual CSCMP conference for many years and thus have some context of comparison.  While interest among attendees for increased professional education remains high, in our view, this year’s sessions remained a hit or miss proposition.  Some sessions were very interesting and informative while others missed the mark in terms of education.  We were very pleased to note that supply chain risk management was a major agenda topic.  Three years ago, we facilitated one of the initial interactive workshops on this topic.  Other interesting presentations involved Procter and Gamble’s new methods for measuring customer satisfaction, supply chain logistics and distribution challenges in countries like China, Vietnam and India, and enhanced deployment and collaboration within sales and operations planning (S&OP) processes. Topics and demonstrated use of social media tools was much more visible and prominent at this year’s conference.

A professional organizational conference should bring forward innovative and sought after topics with fresh perspectives with opportunities to share varieties of learning balanced across practitioner and academic viewpoints.  Our supply chain world has become much more diverse and global in scope, and that alone should be a guideline for diversity of topics in a globally oriented conference. In our view, too much of this year’s overall presentations were weighted towards logistics and transportation topics vs. other broader, cross-functional perspectives and topics.  It was rather surprising to view many empty seats in sessions focused on global and international topics. We also noticed that a few speakers spoke at multiple sessions, rather than offering opportunities for other speakers and viewpoints.

We trust that the CSCMP conference organizers will weigh all of the attendee feedback and enhance the conference in future years.

Bob Ferrari