SCMR’s NextGen Supply Chain Conference will focus on the technologies enabling tomorrow’s supply chains… today.

What’s next in supply chain management? Wouldn’t we all love to know two years in advance. Actually, six months wouldn’t be bad, come to think of it.

As a senior-level supply chain management professional, you’ll have a chance to find some of those early answers in about 50 days – April 16-17, to be precise. That’s when the 2019 NextGen Supply Chain Conference will be held at the Chicago Athletic Association.

While there are plenty of topics to choose from, the three in this inaugural event will be artificial intelligence, robotics and big data, explains Bob Trebilcock, editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review, sponsor of the conference.

“These are the big three in nextgen supply chain technologies this year,” he says. “Each already has a noticeable presence in the supply chain and their influence will only continue to expand and at a rapid pace. Quite simply, there’s no time to lose in making these technologies an integral part of every supply chain.”

Both days of the conference will offer high level sessionson AI, robotics and big data tailored for CEOs, chief supply chain officers, vice presidents and directors of operations as well as procurement sourcing executives. In short, anyone with a leadership stake in the future of the supply chain.

Don’t expect to hear theory or basic explanations of these key technologies, explains Trebilcock. “Every one of our 19-member advisory board is living nextgen technologies each day. They range from practitioners and suppliers to industry experts, academics and consultants. And the conference lineup reflects what they see as important day-to-day in the emerging supply chain of the future.”

Key topics include:

  • The real value of robots and how supply chains benefit from them
  • Roadmap to digital supply chain maturity
  • The impact of machine learning on autonomous logistics
  • How AI is transforming supply chain
  • Robots in the warehouse and distribution center
  • The promise of blockchain in the supply chain

The conference will open with Ron Castro of IBM on the use of AI, blockchain and predictive analytics to expand end-to end- supply chain visibility. It will close with Peter Bolstorff of the Association for Supply Chain Management (previously known as APICS) on the accelerating return on nextgen technology investments.

“The advisory board made a real effort to ensure that the conference is grounded in the reality of these technologies and all the ramifications, including return on investment. They have for the supply chain,” explains Trebilcock. “We fully expect that people will walk out of this conference with an extensive to do list when it comes to these nextgen technologies.”

Attendees will also have something else to work towards following the conference. SCMR will introduce the first annual NextGen Supply Chain Awards. Sponsored by the analyst firm IDC, the awards recognize five companies for their innovative use of nextgen supply chain technologies in robotics, blockchain, analytics, AI and digital transformation. Being recognized next year is not a bad aspiration for supply chain leaders of the future.

In the next few weeks leading up to the conference, we will feature many of the presenters and their contributions to advancing nextgen supply chain technologies. Stay tuned. You won’t be disappointed.

Gary Forger is the special projects editor for Supply Chain Management Review. He can be reached at grforger@gmail.com.