I've been looking forward to this issue of Supply Chain Quarterly—our first-ever with an international theme. Global supply chains hold special interest for me. Before I became a writer and editor, I studied Asian and Romance languages in college, and then spent a decade working in international trade and transportation operations.
I've never lost my fascination for cross-cultural communication and the ins and outs of conducting business across borders. But the real reason for producing this special issue is that global trade, logistics, and supply chain operations and strategies are relevant to almost every one of you, our readers. It's rare indeed to find a supply chain professional who isn't affected by those functions, whether directly through his or her job responsibilities or indirectly at the corporate level.
The increasingly global nature of our profession will be evident to anyone who attends the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' annual conference. CSCMP has more than 20 international roundtables, and last year's well-attended event hosted visitors from 39 countries, from stalwarts like the United Kingdom and India to smaller nations like Ghana and Sri Lanka.
That trend was equally clear at the recent Supply Chain Student Research Expo put on by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Global SCALE Network. This annual program brings together more than 100 graduate students from around the world to present the real-world supply chain projects they are working on. It was not unusual to see, for example, a student from Greece and another from India collaborating on an inventory management analysis, or students from Malaysia and China working together on a food and beverage metrics project. Some of the presentations were specific to a particular country or region. But most of them represented business issues that affect supply chains everywhere: optimizing inventory distribution, improving last-mile delivery, reducing stockouts, and designing manufacturing and distribution networks, to name just a few.
Regardless of where in the world they live and work, then, supply chain professionals have similar problems to solve and business mandates to meet. There's no denying, though, that managing supply chains across countries and continents does introduce additional complications (long transit times, customs and local government regulations, and language and cultural barriers, among others) that call for specialized knowledge and experience.
If that sounds familiar, then Supply Chain Quarterly's special international issue is for you. You'll find articles about Royal Philips' revamp of its global procurement organization, cross-border information technology strategies, key performance indicators in international logistics, an interview with two of CSCMP's most active international members, and more. I hope you find the articles in this issue useful, and that you'll continue to think globally wherever you go and whatever you do.