Archives for April 2012

CSCMP's Chicago Roundtable Seminar

By Herb Shields | 04/17/2012 | 6:56 AM

I had the good fortune to attend the 29th annual seminar held on April 12 at Hamburger University, McDonald Corporation’s expansive meeting facility in Oak Brook, IL.  Like most of you, I attend industry events to get new information and to network.  This event exceeded my expectation in both categories.  Kudo’s to Bob Shaunnessey of Partners Warehouse and his committee.  In the interest of full disclosure, Bob and I have known each other for many years, he is not aware that I am writing this post.

Some of the information I heard included:

Rick Blasgen, President of CSCMP announced a new certification program which will be of interest to all those with careers in supply chain.  More details can be found through the organization’s web site.  I will be discussing the certification program with CSCMP to see how it might apply to students at IIT and other schools that offer a supply chain degree.

Barbara Spain from Aon provided her audience an update and insights into the many aspects of supply chain risk management.  Understanding the many options a company has to mitigate its exposure was new information for me.

Trey McClure from Loparex talked about several of his own supply chain re-engineering experiences.  I found his comment that “people’s capabilities is the biggest supply chain challenge” to be right on.  Finding and retaining the right personnel is a concern of many CEO’s and other execs that I talk with on a regular basis.

Rick Rothermel, CEO of LaMarsh Global, discussed change management as it applies to supply chain or systems implementation projects.  He recommended three questions that address the impact that the change will have on people as a good first step in any change process.

Daniel Stanton of Caterpillar Logistics gave a very interesting talk on managing the talent supply chain and shared several practices that are being used to recruit people into Cat Logistics.  They are taking a very unique approach to on-campus recruiting.

The day ended with a very interesting panel discussion that included four C level executives – Todd Jackson of U.S. Foods, Steve LaVoie of ArrowStream, Jeff Silver of Coyote Logistics, and John  Kolar of Organic Logistics.  Interesting subjects covered by the panel included:

  • Internal collaboration may be as hard if not harder than collaboration with customers and suppliers.  I agree with that based on my many years working in large companies. 
  • All four companies are actively pursuing sustainability options that make sense for their respective businesses. 
  • They also urged all of us to tell people that if they are working in a job where they are not happy, they should go somewhere else.  I have been advising people who worked for me in the past and now, my students at IIT, the very same thing.  We spend the majority of our waking hours at work, at least some of that time should be rewarding and fun.

I have to mention that since there were two tracks for presentations for most of the day, I was not able to attend several presentations.  I am sure those presenters were excellent as well.

Testing the Boundaries of Consumer Research

By Herb Shields | 04/05/2012 | 9:14 AM

Several recent articles have addressed what companies are doing to mine information on consumers and trends from data and in-store observation. There have been articles about Target’s efforts to track customers and predict what they might buy, then send coupons, etc.  An article in The New York Times Sunday magazine in February stated:  “Almost every major retailer from grocery chains to investment banks to the U.S. Postal Service, has a predictive analytics department devoted to understanding not just consumers shopping habits, but also their personal habits, so as to more efficiently market them.”  Target was featured in the article, but chose not to comment directly. Marketers are also making efforts to better use data. McKinsey Quarterly recently published a very interesting article that discussed Proctor & Gamble’s efforts to better use all of the data available to it.

A former colleague of mine, Ralph Blessing, Executive Vice President, GfK Custom Research,LLC.had this to say about the subject:  “Digital technology is influencing market research in many different ways - from data collection which is much more immediate and mobile to understanding behavior in much deeper ways throughout the entire shopping process (from purchase consideration, researching, shopping, buying, using and post use). As this occurs the industry also has to be much more thoughtful and careful about maintaining confidentiality. For example, many companies use net mining (or netography) which can yield very rich insights, but can also unearth potentially sensitive information.”

“It raises all sorts of privacy, security and ethical issues about what is appropriate to collect, use, and 'sell' as well as how to use the information. Consumers will certainly react very negatively if the power of this information is misused and feels evasive or leeks out something they feel is private. Retailers should be highly transparent and cautious before over-zealously using the data and power they now possess.”

Stay tuned for more discussion on this topic.  As Ralph said, it is something that responsible companies are addressing in an effort to provide what consumers want without over-stepping bounds in many important areas.

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Herb Shields

Herb Shields

Herb Shields has run Chicago-based HCS Consulting since 2000, helping clients across multiple industries and in higher education improve their supply chain strategy and execution. Shields has more than 30 years as an operations executive for capital equipment, automotive, electrical machinery and consumer products companies. As vice president of materials management at consumer goods company Helene Curtis, Shields led the supply chain organization that helped Helene Curtis win "Vendor of the Year" awards from Wal-Mart Stores and Target Corp. Shields has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Clarkson University and did graduate work in business at Bowling Green State University.


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