The term supply chain seems a woefully inadequate description of the complex relationships required to bring new products to market. A chain is linear, heavy and prone to rust. The metaphor just doesn't ring true.
I prefer supply network. A network connotes flexibility, nonlinearity, dynamism and self-healing. A network is agile and adaptable. So when CMP Media joined forces with the Institute for Supply Management in 2002 to
launch an annual supply chain event, we named it the Supply Network Conference.
We are working on the program for the third annual Supply Network Conference, which will take place at the San Jose Fairmont Hotel Sept. 27 to 29. This year's conference theme is "Applying the Three As of Supply Chain Excellence: Agility, Adaptability and Alignment." To learn more, visit us at www.supplynetwork.org.
We have an outstanding lineup of speakers this year. They represent all facets of the electronics supply network, from the OEM's customer to OEMs, EMS providers and ODMs, distributors, service providers and component suppliers. Presenters include senior executives from Agilent, Arrow, Avnet, Cisco, Cypress, Flextronics, Harris, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, iSuppli, Logitech, Motorola, Nokia, PalmOne, Philips, PRTM, Sony, Stanford University, Staples and others. The conference promises to be a rich learning experience and a great opportunity to network with your peers.
The issues we will discuss at the conference are the same ones we write about in Electronics Supply & Manufacturing. In fact, the Oct. 1 issue of ESM will feature a number of case studies that will be presented at the conference. Our intent is to share ideas, discuss solutions, and advance understanding and practice.
One theme that runs through both the conference and the magazine is collaboration. Speakers from Nokia and Sony will be addressing the topic in September. And collaboration is a part of this month's cover story on demand forecasting, starting on page 38. Contributing writer Dean Takahashi writes: " . . . collaboration is the byword for those who believe sharing data will yield better forecasts." Very true.
I don't think anyone can deny that all companies could benefit from closer collaboration with their supply network partners. The problem is that in many cases, where there's a dominant supply chain member such as a powerful OEM, collaboration translates into do-it-my-way-or-else. There's work to be done there.
Is your supply chain becoming more collaborative, more interdependent, more networklike? Less authoritarian? I'd like to hear your story.
Bruce Rayner is editor-in-chief of Electronics Supply & Manufacturing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.