Supply chain group starts to practice what it preaches

March 20, 2006
Just back from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Rick Blasgen, president and CEO of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), has

Just back from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Rick Blasgen, president and CEO of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), has to admit, “We call ourselves a global organization, and we’re starting to act that way.”

CSCMP had scheduled the head of Dubai Ports World as a keynote speaker before the controversy erupted about DP World’s acquisition of P&O Ports, a British company that managed operations at six U.S. ports. Although Mohammed Sharaf, DP World’s CEO, ultimately was not able to attend the conference, the company’s senior vice president and managing director, Mohammed Al-Muallem, did appear to offer a first-hand view of DP World’s strategy to a couple hundred CSCMP attendees. Read a report of his speech here.

DP World’s expansion reflects the globalization trend driven by outsourcing, reports Blasgen. Companies around the world are increasingly moving manufacturing to places like China and India, driving growth in ocean cargo. This in turn has driven additional capacity to already overconstrained ports, and so DP World is trying to expand ports in other parts of the world. Their current footprint is in over 30 countries, and the U.S. is just another marketplace where their customers were asking them to expand.

CSCMP couldn’t have timed its conference any better to coincide with a highly visible supply chain event, and Blasgen points with some pride to how it’s all part of the association’s mission to develop, advance and disseminate supply chain research and knowledge across the world. More requests are surfacing from the group’s Roundtables (local chapters) to bring the events to places like India, Australia and elsewhere, where logistics professionals have their own issues with extended supply chains.

A universal theme for CSCMP attendees has been, “How do I develop global business relationships similar to what I have in my home market?” Blasgen notes. “They’re extending their supply chains and they’re trying to develop the efficient and effective processes and contacts to manage their expanding supply chain,” he continues. Responses of the multi-national attendees at the Dubai event, and previous global events, demonstrate for Blasgen that the idea of extending the supply chain across the globe is a big one, and not just a U.S.-centered phenomenon.

As the need grows to bring core competencies in the various vertical areas together on the horizontal plane that represents the supply chain, Blasgen sees greater collaboration with associations and academic groups representing those competencies. “We’re bringing the collective message to our members that helps them do their jobs better,” says Blasgen. “We thought vertically, and inside companies, logistics thought vertically. Procurement thought vertically. The difference now is that inventory and information expands your typical boundaries.”

Not only is CSCMP cooperating with groups that specialize in functional areas like security, it is partnering with the European Logistics Association, which represents 25 countries, and it is talking to the Japan Logistics Institute.

CSCMP’s next major conference event will be held in Brussels May 17-19. It will return to Asia in August when it holds a conference in Shanghai. And the U.S. annual conference will be held in October in San Antonio, Texas.

Increasingly, that means bringing the message of the bottom-line value of supply chain management to the members rather than relying on a single annual event. CSCMP now has non-U.S.-based events that are annual, Blasgen notes.

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