Conference Date
2016 Dates Coming Soon!

Chicago, IL

Supply Chain Uncertainty

Veteran Supply Chain Expert Larry Lapide, Ph.D., outlines the six major factors that will have significant and uncertain impacts on future supply chains.

The upcoming Supply Chain Outlook Summit will feature 10 different speakers who have their fingers on the pulse of the most important changes impacting supply chain management over the next 2-3 years. At the event, Larry Lapide, PhD., will identify the factors that will have significant and uncertain impacts on future supply chains. While fraught with uncertainty, each factor will challenge today and tomorrow’s future managers to achieve excellence regardless of what comes to fruition.

With over 35 years of experience in industry, consulting, business research, and academia, Lapide was most recently the director of demand management at the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL). He also managed the launch of MIT’s Supply Chain 2020 Project and is responsible for CTL’s Strategy Alignment Workshop. The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement in Business Forecasting & Planning Award, Lapide is a frequent presenter at supply chain events and the co-author of E-Business: The Impact on Supply Chain and Logistics.

In this Q&A with Supply Chain Outlook, Lapide highlights the key points of his presentation and tells how supply chain managers can best brace for the changes that lie ahead. 
SCO: Why should supply chain managers be concerned about uncertainty?
Lapide: Because uncertainty is all around them. A few years ago we wrote an article that outlined six macro trends (oil, global trade, the use of trading blocs, and so forth) that are still prevalent today. Supply chain experts need to know that the future is always changing, and that in and of itself infuses uncertainty into their daily work as supply chains evolve in the long-run.

SCO: What are the macro trends that companies should be focused on?
Lapide: The six major factors that we feel will most affect future supply chains are: 1) the aging of developed countries; 2) oil prices; 3) a power shift toward the East; 4) trading bloc formation; 5) globalized Green Laws; and 6) pervasive technologies.

SCO: How did you come up with the six macro trends?
Lapide: While I was at MIT, our team decided to approach the
project using a Scenario Planning methodology, rather than try to do the impossible and predict the state of the world 10 to 15 years out. Our interests moved to identifying reasonable scenarios for the future, such as the worlds that supply chains might be operating in as well as the uncertainties around them.

SCO: Why do supply chain leaders struggle with uncertainty?
Lapide: Supply chain management as a discipline has enjoyed two decades of growth primarily due to the increase in global trade during this time. Along the way, the supply chain has become more fragmented, disjointed, and global in nature. As a result, the activities going on around the world impact the supply chain. The rise in fuel costs over time, for example, and despite the current price-per-barrel, is an ongoing concern for shippers because oil will remain the “fuel du jour” for a long time to come. The same goes for trading blocs, green laws, and the rest of our list, which clearly outlines the key macro trends that everyone should be thinking about and planning for right now.