NextGen 2022: Learning from leaders

Back in 2019, Supply Chain Management Review and my colleagues at Peerless Media created the NextGen Supply Chain Conference at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel in Chicago. Then as now, the idea was to bring together supply chain professionals from across the country to hear presentations on where the supply chain is headed next. The focus was on new technologies such as AI, IoT and robotics; the focus was on presentations from senior supply chain executives from companies such as IBM, Cisco, Johnson Controls, HP and Flex who would address what is changing in their world; and finally in a unique environment conducive to engagement and networking.

So far, so good. After a strong opening event, COVID got in the way and we went virtual in 2020 and 2021. Content stayed strong, but as most of us have learned during the pandemic, engagement and networking are harder to facilitate when presenters are on Zoom and attendees are sending questions through the messaging feature.

Last week we were back at the Chicago Athletic Association in person. And I’m proud to say we’ve been back. It’s an inherently smaller event – we had just over 150 attendees – but the presentations were as impressive as ever and the engagement and networking was great. The feedback was positive and the criticism was constructive to help us create a better event next year. I’m excited.

As the guy hosting the event listened to each presentation and led the question and answer sessions after each speaker finished, I’d like to highlight all of my speakers, but here are a handful of takeaways.

AI may not be here yet – and it all depends on how we define AI – but it’s definitely coming. That message was part of almost every presentation in one to another, but was the focus of a presentation by Jay Koganti, a vice president at Estee Lauder.

Meta isn’t the only company investing in the Metaverse. Melissa Twiningdavis, Senior Managing Director, Supply Chain at Accenture, detailed how one of the world’s leading consulting firms is using the Metaverse to onboard and connect people, as well as some of the practical uses organizations today could be considering for this emerging technology .

Supply chains are still managed by people. We all know the phrase that it’s about people, processes and technology. Too often the focus is on the technology; We forget that supply chains are still managed by people. That was the point of three very different presentations. Adrienne Palermo and Jessica Robledo Garcia, two executives at P&G, described how the CPG giant is digitally upskilling employees from line-up to executive level with its Citizen Developer program. The program empowers non-programmers with software tools they can use to develop applications to address problems they identify in P&G’s operations.

Following Adrienne and Jessica was Bill Good, VP of Supply Chain at GE Appliances, who outlined initiatives to attract and retain individuals from underserved communities to build the manufacturing workforce of tomorrow. Finally, Jonathan Karlese, an author and planning expert, explained how the biases we all bring to the job can affect the accuracy of our forecasts and what to do about it.

Closing the event, Claudia Freed, CEO of EALgreen, told us how her nonprofit helps manufacturers and retailers with excess inventory earn a tax credit and fund college scholarships, and Michigan State’s Steven Melnyk told us what we all do Learn more about Top Gun: Maverick decision making.

If you are interested in presenting at next year’s conference, please feel free to contact me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Me and my team will start planning the 2023 event in the spring. And more information about the conference can be found here.

About the author

Bob Trebilcock Bob Trebilcock, Editor-in-Chief, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain issues for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. Trebilcock is a graduate of Bowling Green State University and lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 603-852-8976.

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