CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
December 17, 2017
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To connect, you need to look up

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Worried about missing something really important? Then you'll need to glance up from that phone or tablet once in a while.

On the face of it, a deluge of business information might not seem like a threat to our sanity. But the reality is quite different. The surging tide of bits and bytes streamed at us every day has overwhelmed our ability to process and absorb the information. And it will only get worse. As technology advances and the means by which we invite and accept information expand, so too will the inrushing digital tide.

From websites to magazines to mobile apps to social media, the content streams are many, and they are multiplying. That's all well and good if you have a strategy in place to filter that content. But even then, there still will be something missing—something all of our technology and all of our devices simply cannot, and will not, replace.

This came to mind while I was reflecting on my four days in San Antonio at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' (CSCMP) Annual Global Conference. The conference provided attendees with a bounty of educational offerings, with some of the best logistics and supply chain content available. It also offered learning opportunities that went far beyond the formal sessions.

But a comment from a bright young supply chain professional made me wonder how many people out there actually recognized those informal learning opportunities and took full advantage of them. This young professional noted that while the conference was valuable, she was still looking for that "something extra"—insights or intelligence that could only be obtained at the event and not, say, via a quick Internet search.

Reflecting on that comment, I realized that in today's hyperconnected world, many people aren't even aware they're missing something important. It's not because they aren't smart. It's not because they don't want to succeed. It's because they just don't "get it." That is, they don't understand how beneficial face-to-face conversations can be.

They don't get it because they've lost sight of the value of looking someone in the eye rather than at his or her LinkedIn profile. They don't get it because even while attending an event that draws some of the most distinguished supply chain executives, thought leaders, and subject-matter experts in the world, they spend the majority of their waking hours nose down, eyes fixed on their phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. They are missing what in modern times might be the greatest value provided by a gathering like the Annual Global Conference and Supply Chain Exchange exhibition: the opportunity for live, human-to-human interaction.

This year's CSCMP Distinguished Service Award winner, Mike Regan of TranzAct Technologies, noticed this phenomenon too and mentioned a YouTube video that makes the point particularly well. It's called "Look Up," and it offers what may be the single best piece of advice you'll receive this year. Check it out and let me know if you agree.

Mitch Mac Donald is Group Editorial Director of AGiLE Business Media.

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