As we hurriedly sift through emails, text messages, workflow chat streams, webinars, and a host of other digital communication and skills-development tools, there is the occasional reminder that the foundation of business success is still personal relationships and old-fashioned face-to-face meetings.
The most recent reminder of that came from our recent trip to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) EDGE 2019 Conference in Anaheim, California. Over the course of three and a half days, nearly 3,000 supply chain executives from more than 40 countries took the opportunity to directly engage with their peers, share ideas, discover new strategies, and see the latest in enabling technologies at the companion Supply Chain Exchange trade show. The annual pilgrimage to CSCMP leaves those who make the journey better prepared for the present and the future, putting those who don't make the trek at a potential disadvantage.
Being there and meeting face to face provides tangible benefits that simply cannot be replicated digitally. "The internet is a wonderful thing, and it provides us with a vast resource of information," notes CSCMP President and CEO Rick Blasgen. "But it doesn't provide the same opportunities as engaging with peers and thought leaders in person."
And while the educational sessions remain the hallmark of the annual conference, the growing value of the trade-show component was clearly evident in Anaheim. "If you walk down the aisles of the Supply Chain Exchange show floor, you'll see the companies that are building [some of today's most innovative products and services]," says Blasgen. "It's just fascinating how fast some of these tools are being developed and how supply chain professionals are putting them to use. We call it the 'Exchange' for a reason. We want people to exchange information and exchange knowledge. Those are the conversations that are really highlighted here."
And that's what you keep seeing, hearing, and experiencing at CSCMP's annual EDGE event. People are engaged. People are learning. People are connecting in a way that provides far greater value than any connections they might make with today's digital tools. These tools may enable us to do more, do it faster, and, we hope, do it better, but they cannot match the value of being present and meeting face to face.
Next year, CSCMP will bring its conference to Orlando, Florida. Put it on your calendar now. Don't let anything keep you from making it to the event. It is important to be connected, but even more important to be present.