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October 2, 2015 - Supply Chain Flagship Newsletter

This Week in SCDigest

bullet Trip Report: CSCMP Conference 2015 Part 1 bullet SC Digest On-Target e-Magazine
bullet Supply Chain Graphic & by the Numbers for the Week bullet Holste's Blog/Distribution Digest
bullet Cartoon Caption Contest Continues bullet Trivia      bullet Feedback
bullet New Supply Chain by Design and Expert Insight bullet Videocasts and New On Demand Videocasts


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first thought


Supply Chain Graphic of the Week
Understanding US Infrastructure Challenges

Small US Carriers Slow to Add to Fleet Due to Truck Cost
US PMI Remains Positive in September - but Barely
Advanced Auto Gets New Reason to Increase Replen Cycles
LLamasoft Gets Goldman Infusion


September 8, 2015 Contest

See The Full-Sized Cartoon and Send In Your Entry Today!

Holste's Blog: Accelerating DC Performance with Integrated Technologies


Weekly On-Target Newsletter:
October 1, 2015 Edition

Cartoon, Nicaraguan Canal? RFID Implants, Integrated DC Technologies and more

CSCMP Report: Two Supply Chain Design Lessons from Starbucks CEO

by Dr. Michael Watson

WMS Myth Number 2 - Fast Path Implementations are Always a Good Thing

by Mark Fralick



Townhall Meeting! The State of Retail-Vendor Relationships 2015

Results from SCDigest's New Benchmark Study of Retailers and Their Suppliers - and SCDigest's New Index to Measure the State of the Relationships

Featuring Interactive Event Format - Live Expert Panel and Audience Questions

Featuring Greg Holder,CEO, Compliance Networks, Kim Zablocky, President,

RVCF (Retail Vendor Compliance Federation), Victor Engesser, Retail Executive Advisor, RVCF and SCDigest's Dan Gilmore

Conquering the Omnichannel Challenge


What is a transhumanist?

Answer Found at the
Bottom of the Page

Trip Report: CSCMP Conference 2015 Part 1

I am fresh back from San Diego and CSCMP's 2015 annual conference. It was a good week, I spoke with more SCDigest readers than at any conference ever. All told I give the conference good marks - but as usual I have a few suggestions to make it better during the course of this column.


As a side note, I am on the 2016 conference committee, so if you aren't happy with next year's event I guess you can at least in part blame me.

Thousands of you have watched my daily video recaps of the conference . You will find them here: CSCMP Day 1 Video ReviewDay 2, and Day 3.


Clearly CSCMP, primarily as voiced by CEO Rick Blasgen in all the general sessions, is getting more aggressive in its messaging, and staking out some more clear strategies to grow the organization.


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The number I heard was about 2900 attendees, which I think would be up a bit from last year. Attendance has been somewhere in that just under 3000 range for some time. Can it ever be taken back North again? That is a key organizational question for CSCMP. I believe so, but it will take hard and smart work.

From a big picture perspective, there were just 16 breakout session tracks this year, down from I believe 20 last year, 26 in 2013 and in the 30s not too many years ago.

Clearly in years past there were far too many tracks to sort through, and not enough coordination across the track in terms of subject matter. So I fully support the overall move to consolidate the number of tracks, but believe the pendulum may have swung a little too far this year. I wanted a few more choices in many of the time slots.

There were again just three 75 minutes breakout sessions each of the first two days, down from four daily breakouts in 2013. I am not in favor of that change, but then I am there on a mission to gain knowledge and report on it, so maybe others prefer a lighter schedule and more time for networking and such, but I would recommend cutting the session time back down to one hour and adding a fourth session again.

That said, I counted almost 90 individual breakout sessions between Monday and Tuesday, so the total number of choices is still very broad. And I will note the fewer number of sessions in each slot clearly led to higher numbers of attendees in most presentations, good for speakers who often faced sparse crowds when there were far more session at each time for roughly the same total number of attendees.

On the final day, Wednesday, there were just two 90-minute "mega-sessions" to choose from to start the morning, followed by 90 minutes or so of closing festivities. There have been three and maybe even four choices for mega-ssessions in the past, and think you need at least a trio of options.

The trend towards panel discussions as a very common breakout format continues. Panel quality of course varies a lot, and my own personal view is that panels can be very interesting, but that you don't come away with as many insights and bright ideas as you do in more case study or "thought leadership" type sessions. I would be interested in your take on this question. But I also understand the dynamic that companies can often receive permission to offer comments on a panel more easily than they can to do a full cases study presentation.

In a couple of weeks, I will summarize the key breakout session presentations I saw, and I attended several very good ones. 

I think it is important to mention that clearly CSCMP, primarily as voiced by CEO Rick Blasgen in all the general sessions, is getting more aggressive in its messaging, and staking out some more clear strategies to grow the organization. That includes a focus on having programs and services for the full career lifecycle of members, a theme emphasized several times. "We'll have your back" in the face of company or personal career challenges, Blasgen said.

A new key aspect of this focus is something CSCMP calls the Circle of Excellence, which will be some type of on-line community that will connect supply chain practitioners at early and middle stages of their careers with more senior supply chain expertise. Specifics are sparse, but the community is scheduled to be up and running by the end of Q1 2016. More details as we get them.


There is also clearly a stronger CSCMP focus on engaging young supply chain professionals, starting in college and then in say the first decade of their careers. I think this is a simple strategy of connecting with the next generation early and hoping to hold on to them for life, which seems smart enough to me. There were a lot of young people there, and CSCMP picks up most of the tab for many of them.

First we had Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. His company is perhaps the leader in what I believe is a megatrend of the emerging "social enterprise," running the firm with a view of performance well beyond just the bottom line. Decisions at Starbucks, for example, are made in terms of exceeding the expectations of both customers and employees.


He is an interesting and engaging guy, and believes deeply that "culture trumps strategy," because the best strategy will usually fail in execution if the culture is off. Schultz offered a lot to to think about for sure, but I always think its a bit easier to be a social enterprise when you can get six bucks for a cup of coffee than when you are grinding it out in a hugely competitive market. Maybe the message is that you can culture your way out of that position.


On Tuesday, Dave Clark, SVP of Operations for, opened the window a bit on how now giant Amazon can be so innovative and entrepreneurial even with its now giant size. The easy answer is again culture. When a new idea is proposed, the Amazon champion writes a six-page "customer back" document, which must contain an "internal press release" as if the innovation was being announced within the company.


The meeting on the idea starts off with execs and managers reading that document. Once the idea is approved, it's off to the races, with an amazing focus on speed. For example, Clark said it only took 111 days to go from idea approval for the Amazon Now one hour delivery service to being live in Manhattan (including finding and renovating warehouse space, stocking 25,000 SKUs, setting up delivery processes, installing a lite WMS, building the web and mobile apps, etc.).


Incredible. The goal was actually only 90 days. It then set up 13 Amazon Now cities in one year, with more rolling out. Clark also announced the new Amazon Flex program, which is basically an Uber-like service which will use freelance drivers who sign up and get delivery work through a mobile app, and they can make about $25 per hour. The key to me is that perhaps Amazon alone has the order density to make this payoff for itself and the drivers. Clark also on the spot donated on behalf of Amazon $25,000 to the American Logistics Aid Network, and said he would match another $25,000 if CSCMP members would pledge an equal amount. They did and he did.


Robert Martichenko, CEO of LeanCor, a Lean consulting company, was presented the CSCMP Distinguished Service Award, and gave one of the best acceptance speeches ever, including videos of his mid-teenage daughters first saying they had no idea what their Dad did for a living, and then that they had zero interest in a supply chain career. I am so glad I am not alone.

I am out of space. Summaries of key breakout sessions soon, after a trip report on the MHI conference next week. The 2016 CSCMP conference will start Sept. 25 in Orlando - I hope to see you there. If you have suggestions for conference improvement, please send them my way.

Did you attend CSCMP? What were your thoughts? How would you improve the conference? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button (email) or section (web form) below.

View Web/Printable Version of this Column

October Videocast:

Making Supply Chain Business Intelligence Pay Off for Mid-Market Companies

New Technology Options and BI Use Cases Delivering Competitive Advantage and ROI

Includes demystifying supply chain BI, the keys to deployment success, key trends such as the move beyond scorecards to dashboards, and how new BI offerings are enabling cost-effective, easier to implement BI solutions to mid-market and even many larger companies

Featuring Donna Fritz of TAKE Supply Chain,Tom Dadmun, former head of supply chain for high tech manufacturer Adtran and SCDigest's Dan Gilmore

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015

October Videocast:

Innovations in Supply Chain Design

How Smart Companies are Finding New Ways to Reduce Costs and Improve Performance

Includes a Number of Real World Case Studies about how Leading Companies are Putting these new Applications to Work

Toby Brzoznowski, Exec Vice President at LLamasoft, Dr. Michael Watson, Partner Opex Analytics Lead Author, Supply Chain Network Design and Dan Gilmore, Editor, SCDigest

Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015

On-Demand Videocast:

The Six Uses Cases for Distributed Order Management Systems

Distributed Order
Management is Rising!

From Omnichannel Fulfillment to Enterprise Order Hub, We Detail the Six Use Cases for DOM - New Insight Only from SCDigest!

Featuring Dinesh Dongre, VP Product Strategy, Softeon and SCDigest's Dan Gilmore.

Available On Demand


We received quite a bit of Feedback on last week's First Thoughts column on  "The Supply Chain Efficient Frontier," in addition to the great email from Tom Davis featured above. Below are some additional Feedbacks. More next week.

Feedback on the Efficient Supply Chain Frontier


I don't really care if I get mentioned personally, but I did the first off the self commercial work on supply chain trade off curves when I was a scientist/programmer for IBM. I ended up applying for a patent with them, and won an award for it. The patent application covered graphical interaction with trade off curves in a general way that didn't mention supply chain in particular.

I'm not sure if IBM followed through in terms of actually acquiring the patent. (I no longer work for IBM). But if they did, I have a good understanding of what it does and doesn't cover.

I also published some algorithmic ideas with IBM that are in the public domain.

It's worth pointing out that computing a trade off curve for a reasonably sized optimization problem is more "parallelizable" than computing a single optimal result for a really hard optimization problem. That is to say, if your optimization problem is really hard, then adding 100 computers to work on it parallel will be unlikely to give you a 100X (or even a 10X) speed up. But if you're optimization problem doesn't take that long to solve in one instance, and you need to solve 100 somewhat similar instances in order to compute a trade off curve, then 100 machines might actually get you (almost) a 100X improvement (and even more likely a 10X improvement).

As we move into a cloud computing world, where 100 computers are not terribly hard to rent, this observation becomes more prescient. Hopefully, when combined with articles like this, it will result in trade off curves becoming a more common part of data analysis in general, and supply chain analysis in particular.

Peter Cacioppi
Chief Scientist
Opalytics Inc


Nice Article. We would like to understand how these curves are drawn and how we can understand them better.

SCM Consultant



One of Sean's last points was interesting. It leads to the question "Are we working on the right projects - the ones that will actually move the dot in the right direction?"

But that’s another story.

Bill Pritz
VP, Logility Transportation Solutions         



Q: What is a transhumanist?

A: Someone who believes the idea that human capacity can be enhanced by technology – like implanting RFID chips in your hand to control objects.

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