On the second and final day of the Supply Chain World North America conference, sponsored by the Supply Chain Council, I was privileged to be asked by the conference planning committee to moderate the Pundits and Influencers panel discussion.

This year, we wanted the panel to include broader perspectives and viewpoints on what is occurring across global supply chains, perspectives that span industry analyst, consulting, blogging and academia.

We were fortunate to secure a stellar group of panelists which included:

Simon Ellis, Practice Director, Supply Chain Strategies, IDC Manufacturing Insights

Brad Householder, Partner and Director, Supply Chain Management Practice, PRTM

Noha Tohamy, Vice President, Supply Chain Research, AMR Research / Gartner

Nick Little, Assistant Director, Executive Development, Eli Broad Graduate School, Michigan State University

I asked each of our panelists to articulate the one capability area they believed will be the most important for supply chain organization’s to focus upon in this post-recovery era.  The capabilities mentioned were:

  • Responding to demand volatility
  • Strategic alignment of the supply chain with the company’s business goals
  • Supply chain managers possessing the skills to not only master their function, but more importantly, the soft skills required to sell ideas and innovation.
  • Filling the pipeline for new supply chain talent by offering more opportunities for entry-level talent to gain needed cross-functional experience, and for educational institutions to perform a ‘supply-demand’ analysis relative to preparing students for the different skills required in managing globally extended supply chains.

Our discussion and panel interchange  time flew by quickly, but the panel was able to respond to questions directed at the current occurrences of supply chain disruption, including the implications of the recent devastating earthquake and tsunami that effected Japan and multiple industry supply chains. Other questions were directed at what specific general management skills are required in supply chain management, as well as the impact of the organizations in the emerging markets making future impacts on supply chain management.

As we concluded the panel, Noha Tohamy provided a rather interesting perspective.  She noted that some attendees were asking her earlier, what was the next ‘big thing’ that AMR Research/Gartner was declaring for supply chains in the coming months.  Her response was, “there is no new big thing.” “The challenge for supply chain teams in this next era is to continue to work and improve on all the required capabilities of demand response, agility, integrated planning and other declared competencies.”

To summarize our overall experiences and takeaways from this year’s conference, we close with some quotations captured throughout the two days.

The unthinkable does happen- who would have thought that both an earthquake and a tsunami would occur at the very same time.”

Don Weintriitt, Global Supply Chain Director, Dow Chemical Company


The planets are aligned for deeper supply chain analytics

Tom Davenport, President’s Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management, Babson College


Supply chain organizations cannot just return to the former ways of doing business. This new era requires far different means for fulfilling customer and supply chain needs.”

Dave Malenfant, Vice President, Global Supply Chain, Alcon Laboratories


Once you figure out that something has gone wrong in the supply chain – the response is critically important.”   “Globalize what you can- localize what you must.”

Lalit Wadhwa, Vice President, Global Supply Chain Operations, Avnet Inc.


Deep collaboration with suppliers and customers is never wasted”

Don Esses, Vice President, Supply Chain Operations, QCT Division, Qualcomm


Supply Chain Matters again thanks the North America Leadership team of Supply Chain Council for the opportunity to participate in this year’s annual conference.

Readers can view our other previous conference commentaries at the following links:

Dispatch One

Dispatch Two


Bob Ferrari