To say that uncertainties are a challenge for global business leaders is an understatement, given the unpredictable economic dynamics that supply chain pros are confronting today.
That's why risk and uncertainty were the central themes of the CSCMP Europe conference I attended in Brussels, Belgium. Setting the stage was "Enhancing Performance in an Uncertain World," the excellent keynote presentation by Magne Setnes, manager, supply chain control for Heineken Group Supply Chain. Dr. Setnes explained how Heineken is dealing with business pressures and uncertainty by increasing collaboration with its partners, focusing more on proactive planning, and improving its "green" presence.
The uncertainties associated with talent management were the impetus for discussions on innovative ways to motivate top supply chain pros and increase their job satisfaction. This subject deserves to be on everyone's agenda: Retaining the industry's best and brightest is one way companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors and successfully compete in the global marketplace.
The uncertain U.S. economy is on the minds of supply chain professionals everywhere, including those attending CSCMP Europe. Skyrocketing energy and commodity prices, coupled with changing currency valuations, are affecting supply chains around the world. SCM leaders are beginning to work more closely with their financial peers to more effectively manage these very real issues.
CSCMP Europe offered much insight into how companies like Ford, Nike, Heineken, and Avon Cosmetics operate differently in Europe and in other international markets than they do in the United States. One thing that is the same in Europe as it is elsewhere in the world is the need to outsource manufacturing and develop supplier relationships in other countries. This trend is increasing demand uncertainties and extending lead times.
Attendees also learned some strategies for meeting the challenges of uncertain economic times. Working closely with supply chain partners, such as third-party logistics (3PL) providers, to create new efficiencies is one technique they could employ. It's not a new concept, but it's one that got a lot of attention at CSCMP Europe.
Another exciting highlight of the conference was the release of our brand-new research report, CSCMP Global Perspectives —Benelux. With the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) serving as the major gateway to Europe and representing the fourth largest trading region in the world, this report on the area's infrastructure, trade, and taxes offers readers an important perspective on the future of European logistics.
CSCMP Europe was a great success, and there is more to come. As supply chains extend around the world, we will continue to expand our global presence and provide leading- edge education to practitioners on every continent. Next stop: Denver, Colorado, USA, October 5-8 for CSCMP's Annual Global Conference 2008, then Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 12-13, 2008, and Copenhagen, Denmark, in the spring of 2009.
CSCMP is committed to advancing the supply chain profession and the careers of those who work in this vitally important field. We are dedicated to helping global supply chain managers discover a world of opportunity in uncertain times such as these.