This week I had the opportunity to participate in the 22nd annual Transportation Innovation and Cost Saving Conference, after once again being handed the interesting task of summing up the day’s proceedings.
The task is what I jokingly refer to as organizer Richard Lande’s masterful plan to get the media there and paying attention to every presentation from start to finish by giving the journalist the job of summing up so that everyone in the audience can tell if he’s been paying attention. I’m always happy to do it though because there is so much good information to sink one’s teeth into. The fact this conference has been going on for more than two decades now and is able to attract hundreds of attendees even during difficult economic times when the first thing companies cut is their training budgets says something about Lande and his team has been able to build here.
The startling news about the collapse of the US economy the previous week, and US president Bush’s plea for a $700 billion bailout the previous night, set an ominous tone for the conference. (As I watched former president Bill Clinton, interviewed on Larry King after Bush’s address, actually agree with a president most Democrats have come to loathe, I wondered just how deep the problems with the US economy really are; how much they’re not telling us). Anyway, it’s obvious there are troubled times ahead.
But managing supply chains during economic adversity is not something new. We did it 10 years ago when the dot com bubble burst and again after 9/11. But if you’re a supply chain professional or a provider of supply chain services, there is one key difference this time around. This time many of the leading CEOs have a good grasp of how important supply chains are to the health of their companies. They’ve come to understand that a well-managed supply chain can not only reduce costs but be a significant factor in growing customer satisfaction, market share and revenues.
The importance of supply chain professionals and providers of supply chain services is no longer the best kept secret in business.
Which means that the spotlight is on and corporate leaders are expecting miracles.
I’ll be writing a few blogs detailing the conference’s highlights but first I want to comment on the speakers Lande put together: an interesting mix of supply chain managers, carriers, 3PLs, lawyers and consultants. A wide mix yet there were two common characteristics among them.
One, the speakers were people who have become experts in dealing with change and, in fact, embraced change. As CN’s Peter Ladouceur said: “Change creates opportunity.”
The speakers were also people who realized that to change things you don’t have to start with huge and expensive projects. Rolling up your sleeves and tackling the low-hanging fruit is a good starting point. Or as Arlene Dalida of Resources Global Professionals, advised: “Don’t be afraid, just get started.”
I can’t think of better advice for our readers looking at the difficult times ahead and wondering how to approach them.
Have your say
This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.