One of the great things about the supply chain and logistics industry is that there is no shortage of conferences to attend. You can literally spend the entire month of May traveling from conference to conference (mostly between Orlando and Las Vegas, with Dallas occasionally sprinkled in). The challenge is determining which conferences to attend among the many choices. Last year, I highlighted a few questions to ask yourself to help you evaluate the options; take a look at them again as you consider which conferences to attend this year.
For conference organizers, here are a couple of ideas to consider:
More Supply Chain Executive Keynotes, Less Motivational Speakers. Don’t get me wrong, I generally enjoy talks by motivational speakers, such as athletes, adventurers, and authors. I usually walk away inspired and energized by their stories. But the takeaways are often the same: always believe in your dreams; learn from your failures and don’t give up; teamwork, trust, and communication are vitally important; and so on. If I’m attending a conference to gain some practical knowledge and advice that I can use to improve my supply chain operations, then a keynote presentation by a senior supply chain executive at a leading manufacturing or retail company would be much more valuable than a presentation by a mountain climber or ex-football player. Of course, the value would ultimately depend on the quality of the content presented; the more details, the better.
More Question-Driven Conversations, Less PowerPoint Presentations. In most conference sessions, you spend the majority of the time listening to a speaker go through a PowerPoint presentation, with only a few minutes left at the end for questions. I would invert the format and limit prepared content to 10 minutes and devote the rest of the time to conversation driven by a knowledgeable moderator and questions from the audience. This is essentially the talk show model, and I find it more engaging, spontaneous, and insightful than listening to a long lecture, which is why guests on Oprah, Piers Morgan, and Jay Leno don’t come with PowerPoint presentations. Having a good moderator (“talk show host”) is important. I also recommend providing attendees with some content ahead of time (such as a white paper related to the session topic) so that they can come to the session prepared with questions.
Okay, here is a short list of supply chain and logistics conferences scheduled for this year. I have attended many of these conferences over the years, often as a speaker, and they all offer great learning and networking opportunities.
- Dematic: Material Handling & Logistics Conference, September 8-11 in Park City, UT
- Descartes Systems Group: Evolution 2013, details TBD (usually held in early Nov.)
- HighJump Software: Innovation 2013, April 28 – May 1 in Las Vegas, NV
- Infor: Inforum 2013, April 21-24 in Orlando, FL
- JDA Software: Focus 2013, May 5-8 in Orlando, FL
- LeanLogistics: LeanLogistics ClientConnect, details TBD (usually held in September)
- LLamasoft: SummerCon 2013, June 17-21 in Ann Arbor, MI
- Manhattan Associates: Momentum 2013, May 19-22 in Las Vegas, NV
- MercuryGate: MercuryGate 2013 User Conference, August 26-28, Las Vegas, NV
- Oracle: Oracle OpenWorld 2013, September 22-26 in San Francisco, CA
- ORTEC: OPTIMUS 2013, September 16-18 in Atlanta, GA
- SAP: SAPPHIRE NOW 2013, May 14-16 in Orlando, FL
- TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson Client Forum, February 12-13 in Chicago, IL (for clients only)
- Transplace: Shipper Symposium, May 7-9, Dallas, TX
- Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Annual Global Conference, October 20-23 in Denver, CO.
- The Logistics & Supply Chain Forum, June 2-4 in Jacksonville, FL and November 3-5 in Scottsdale, AZ.
- RILA Logistics Conference, February 17-20 in Orlando, FL.
- Eyefortransport 11th 3PL Summit, June 18-20 in Chicago, IL
- Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) Conference, April 28 – May 1 in Dallas, TX.
- ARC will have a session on Supply Chain Risk Management at its 17th Annual World Industry Forum, February 11-14 in Orlando, FL.
Are there other events you would recommend? Any other ideas for conference organizers to enhance the value of their events? Post a comment and let us know.