Celebrating National Supply Chain Day – and Its Link to You
Tomorrow, April 29, is National Supply Chain Day. According to the National Day Archives website: “National Supply Chain Day is a day where all companies leading in supply chain can come together to spread knowledge, share recent upgrades and new tech in their supply chain and connect.”
Why have a day dedicated to supply chain? Well, unless you were living under a rock in 2020, you know that supply chains were front and center during the COVID-19 pandemic – linking us to the things we need like potato chips, toilet paper, yoga pants, and hand sanitizer.
But supply chains have not always been at the forefront. In fact, for the past 30-plus years, “Supply Chain” was more of an amalgam of different and disparate sub-specialties. You would have been hard pressed to find any college/university program dedicated to what we do. There might have been one class on it or, more commonly, it might have been taught as one or two sessions within a broader Operations class.
Today, there are programs and certifications dedicated to supply chain – linking its importance to the business world. Take for example the University of Arkansas, which has a Supply Chain Management Department at the Walton College. In addition, the university also hosts the Supply Chain Hall of Fame, which officially opened in October last year and was proudly sponsored by Blue Yonder.
In the business world, supply chain professionals had often found themselves a one-off link moving from role to role across functions – adding value but never quite feeling at home, and certainly not aligning to a ‘typical’ career path that would lead to the C-suite. Take me for example: I started my professional life studying Electrical Engineering, and then moved through Nuclear Power and Manufacturing Operations before landing in a Lean Six Sigma role that brought me deeper and deeper into the process orientation and end-to-end thinking that epitomizes a supply chain professional.
Today, though, what was once a bunch of disconnected links scattered across the company is finally coming into its own as a set of connected and holistic thought leaders that form the backbone of any company. There are now teams of supply chain professionals linked together to form actual Supply Chain Departments in many companies – with a Chief Supply Chain Officer! Budgets are being allocated to upgrade to solutions that help companies predict and pivot in real time thanks to the use of advanced technology like IOT, artificial intelligence and machine learning all of which are things that I am proud to support through my work at Blue Yonder. I take pride in knowing that even as I stand on the shoulders of giants, I am helping to pave the way for the next generation of supply chain professionals.
All this week, we have been sharing images on our social media channels about what it would be like if there was a missing link in the supply chain. The tagline “Every link in the supply chain matters” was meant to convey why it is so important to have supply chain professionals at companies to keep products moving to distribution and fulfillment centers, stores and eventually to the end consumers who will use the products. If you haven’t seen the images, you can see them on our Twitter account.
The idea to use the word “link” came from the fact that everything in our world is so interconnected. Take for example the microchip shortage that my colleague Salim Shaikh and his counterpart at KPMG recently wrote about. A relatively small set of components, probably not weighing a full pound among them, but without these microchips, auto manufacturers can’t build cars, technology companies can’t build your favorite cell phone, and appliance manufacturers can’t build that refrigerator you need to keep your food from spoiling.
And while “supply chain” implies a series of linear links, supply chains now are really much more the skeleton and framework upon which a successful company can grow. So to all of my fellow supply chain professionals, I bid you a wonderful National Supply Chain Day, and hope that you keep growing and expanding your minds and your roles, as that is what will keep us pushing the boundaries of what we can do.