The Supply Chain Matters blog provides a perspective commentary regarding this week’s announcement of the rebranding of the APICS professional education organization to the Association for Supply Management (ASCM).

At the APICS 2018 Conference held this week, this Editor again had the opportunity to speak directly with Abe EshkenaziASME Announced, CEO of the organization. Each time I attend the APICS annual conference, I enjoy the opportunity to sit with Abe regarding where the organization is headed. For the past three years, such conversations have in this Editor’s view, led up to this week’s announcement.

The most obvious question was why ACSM now, and the CEO responses were insightful.

Essentially, the announcement should be viewed as an acknowledgement that rapidly changing needs among multi business settings, and in overall needs in workforce development and readiness have taken on more C-level perspectives. Organizations of all kinds, and in varying industry settings, are now keen to the need to meet the challenges of the digital revolution in business. It implies that workforce skills preparedness and development, including the many facets of what is today’s supply chain management umbrella need to take on a combination of both top-down and bottom-up efforts.

The umbrella of supply chain management is now multi-faceted and multi-dimensional, spanning business process and decision-making that include product management, procurement, business planning, production, customer, logistics and services fulfillment. These functions can no longer exist in their stovepipes since the notions of digitally-based business capabilities imply a blending of process and decision-making needs that span internal and external product design, production, and customer fulfillment networks.

Businesses and large enterprises are increasingly seeking one-stop resources for accessing bodies of knowledge in skills development. Learning and skills development is no longer a singular event in time, but rather a continuous on-demand requirement that changes continuously.

As Eshkenazi points out, the history of APICS has often reflected the bottoms-up perspective for individuals taking on self-learning initiatives to broaden skills and competencies including recognized certification. ASCM represents a transition towards a blended organizational delivery model for supporting a particular business’s organizational-wide and individual supply chain process and skills development needs across multiple business process dimensions and training channels.


Strategic Moves

Leading up to ASCM, the APICS organization itself has taken some prior and new strategic steps that have led up to this week’s rebranding announcement.

The first was the 2014 merger with the Supply Chain Council organization, which was assimilated to be APICS Supply Chain Council. The SCC was and remains, the steward of the globally recognized Supply Chain Operations Reference Modeling (SCOR) framework and associated benchmarks in overall process and decision-making capabilities. SCC caters to corporate-wide supply chain management process readiness, capability and maturity needs.

In 2015, the American Society of Transportation and Logistics was merged into APICS which added more logistics and transportation depth to the APICS body of knowledge.

This week, the professional organization announced a broadened global alliance network to be completed by early 2019.

Current announced members were:

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the basis of a grant to develop and implement a sustainable operating model focused on improving public health supply chains and overall advancement of end-to-end supply chain management in Africa.

The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS)– noted as one of the largest professional bodies serving the procurement and supply profession in Europe and other global regions. An alliance calls for enhancing educational standards and improving workforce development, including a new procurement certification to be offered to the North American market in 2019.

Accenture- the global management consulting and professional services firm will work with ASCM to provide an extensive, easy-to-access online study program that supports the CPIM review process.

Deloitte Consulting– this global advisory and consulting services firm indicated collaboration with ASCM to support the Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Initiative which showcases the impact of women in science, technology, engineering, and production careers.

PwC– a network of professional services firms in 158 countries will continue to support SCORMark supply chain benchmarking services and continue to sponsor ASCM research, and the Digital SCOR Taskforce.


Additional Thought Leadership Collaborations have been announced and include, among others:

American Institute of Artificial Intelligence (AIAI) to build awareness of AI within the supply chain management profession.

ASLOG- the French Association of Supply Chain And Logistics to expand the supply chain knowledge base of both communities.

China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) to develop the Chinese language version of CPIM certification.

Guangdong Procurement and Supply Chain Organization (GDPSA) to offer training and other services to association member organizations.

Institute of Business Forecasting and Planning (IBF) in continued joint conference learning events including sales and operations planning (S&OP) conferences and competency paths.

Integreship Group for the development of on-demand virtual learning.

Loyola University- Chicago and the Loyola Business Leadership Hub for the creation of executive education programs.

UI LABS to collaborate on new digital product opportunities for supply chain management.


Reader Takeaways

From our Supply Chain Matters lens, the rebranding of APICS to ASCM should be viewed as an acknowledgement that workforce development and today’s needs for continual on-demand based skills readiness can come from a number of options that are increasingly turning digital and global in-scope.

Professional skills development can now come from multiple mechanisms:

  • Common, globally recognized, and proven methodologies of supply chain management.
  • Virtual on-demand, digitally-based training, and skills development options.
  • A broader and deeper body of knowledge that spans multiple skill areas including advanced technology.
  • Local, regional, and global based professional mentoring, collaboration, benchmarking, and collaborative-based communities.

In this year’s interview, Eshkenazi observed that more acute workforce development needs are not solely about APICS, IBF, ISM, CSCMP or other professional organizations, but rather the reality of increasing challenges and skill needs across all of the areas of what is supply chain management. They require a more responsive and comprehensive body of knowledge that is changing rather quickly because of theASCM 2019 digital revolution in business.

For individual APICS members and chapters, this is indeed a significant transitional change that was pre-announced for this week’s conference but is clearly of the category of more to come in 2019.

One hallway image that brought all of this home for this Editor was the banner announcement of the 2019 Annual ASM Conference- the implication being no longer the APICS logo but a refocused professional organization.

Change has various dimensions from a variety of dimensions and we trust that the APICS Board and executive leadership team will be active stewards of positive change.


Some Final Thoughts

As far back as 2014, this supply chain management industry analyst was foretelling a prediction of a “thinning of the herd” among the many varied and different supply chain professional, independent training, and certification entities. The argument was based on evident market overlap and individual organizational needs for membership and services expansion.

The implications of the new digital online economy, the eventual implications of what will be supply chain digital transformation have indeed reached C-level executive awareness, and with that, the question of the day: Are we ready, and if we are not ready, how will we be ready to compete in these new business dimensions.

Today, and indeed in the foreseeable future, a new reality has set-in, one that we have termed the Supply Chain Talent Perfect Storm and one that has indeed garnered top management attention. The perfect storm is increased demand for both specialized and broader-based supply chain management process skills meeting very limited talent supply. Shortages are manifested in multiple areas and dimensions. It is a further acknowledgement for needs to attract higher numbers of the new millennial workforce into career options that elect the many dimensions of supply chain management as their career choice.

The area of work readiness therefore takes on a far different dimensions. For all individuals associated with supply chain management contributions, it adds considerations for future skills based training and readiness options.

Which organizations can provide the global scale, broad-based expertise, alliances and one-stop digital platforms for supply chain management workforce readiness and continual  skills development.

This week’s announcement of ASCM is a branding and actions-based stake in the ground for one specific professional organization.

Our revised prediction is that our community should anticipate continuing developments and actions directed at expanding the delivery options of workforce development, whether it be academic, professional organization or industry consortia based. It may well be combinations and collaborations of all three.


Bob Ferrari

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