CSCMP Awash in Debates on how Blockchain, AI, and Digital Technologies Will Change SCM Forever

I had the opportunity to speak at the CSCMP conference this past week.  This was an exciting time to be talking to people about logistics and supply chain!  SCRC Director, Troy Pinkins, MBA student Sara Sonderman, and I hosted the NC State SCRC booth, and got to speak to a number of visitors.  It was great to have alumni stop by and talk to us about how NC State was such a wonderful experience when they were students, and how it was instrumental to get them to where they are today.  Many of these alumni are now senior executives at large global companies.  For instance, one gentleman noted that “NC State taught me how to solve problems, and that has been what I’ve been doing in supply chains for my entire career!”  Another alumni noted that “I started in engineering, but ended up in accounting, and today I manage global supply chains and analytics all over the world.  NC State really helped me launch my career…”

I also had a chance to speak in several venues at the conference.  First, I gave a brief talk on blockchain at the IBM Innovation Zone.  (This was a lot of fun – a short impromptu event, and got people primed to start thinking about digital technology) . Next I spoke at one of the formal sessions, along with Alex Zhong (see picture below).  I spent some time discussing concepts from my co-authored book, the LIVING Supply Chain.  I think it got a lot of people thinking – one gentleman came up to me after and said it got him re-considering concepts he may have taken for granted, and to consider them in a new light – the context of the end to end ecosystem.  Mission accomplished!  Driving a new culture for operating with real-time data is definitely going to require thinking differently about how humans operate with machines in the digital world.

Finally, I had the opportunity of doing a brief webinar with Dan Stanton from Secure Markings, Ted Stank, from the University of Tennessee, and Alex Zhong from IBM.  This was a lot of fun, as we fed off of one another’s thoughts, and explored what is the art of the possible when it comes to disruptive technologies, block chain, and artificial intelligence.  The basic conclusion we all reached?  Companies need to jump off the deep end, and start doing pilots in these areas if they want to succeed and get a competitive advantage.  The best way to learn is to not hesitate, but start playing with their data in the sandbox using different technologies!  I also mentioned that several of our student teams at the SCRC at NC State are doing just that, including teams working with Lenovo, American Red Cross, and others.  On the other hand, companies who sit back and wait for the technology to settle down, and play the wait and see game, are likely going to be left in the dust.  Organizational learning is key in this environment, especially as companies think about how these technologies will change the nature of work that supply chain managers and staff operate.

Finally, got to have dinner with Troy, Sara, and Will Seel from FHI, one of the SCRC’s partners.  We will be announcing an exciting event partnering with FHI soon…

Great thoughts – and stay tuned for postings of these sessions soon!