On July 12, Nova SBE’s Executive Education and Venture Lab organized the conference “Are we seeing the end of supply chain management?”, which marked the first event for executives in the new campus at Carcavelos.
Author: Maria Brás Frade | Reading Time: 4 minutes
On July 12th, Nova SBE organized an evening conference to debate the uncertain future of supply chain management in a world of constant technological innovation. The meeting point was the new Carcavelos campus, where Nova SBE Executive Education and the Venture Lab gathered with numerous professionals of the sector.
It was with a full house that Nova SBE Executive Education took the opportunity to reveal one of their greatest surprises of the 2019’s portfolio: the first edition of a post-graduate program in supply chain management, coordinated by the host of the event himself, José Crespo Carvalho.
The inquisitive nature of the Professor launched the discussion with the question:
“Are we seeing the end of supply chain management?”
The interrogation gave name to the conference and direction to the opening speech. After the Harvard Business Review had published the article “The Death of Supply Chain Management”, which anticipates the end of supply chain management as we know it, it was necessary to reflect upon its future.
The winner of two career awards for logistics explained that the supply chain is the heart of any company’s operations. To make the best decisions, managers must have access to data in real time. However, the capacity to analyse data together with automation have the potential to overtake the role of the manager. The question, therefore, raises: will the tasks of the supply chain manager be obsolete in 5 or 10 years?
Technological progress seems to be advancing towards that reality, putting us face to face with a supply chain logistics that “auto regulates its own workflows” and works perfectly without much “human intervention”. The key resource here is having a digital control tower, which acts as a central nervous system for the organization, receiving data in real time. This would be capable of replacing human capital by a series of “automatic processes” that interpret data and make decisions. In other words:
“Are we going to start motivating robots?”
Asked José Crespo Carvalho in an assertive attempt to restore the smiles of a concerned audience.
Nevertheless, it seems clear that the job description of the supply chain manager will change. According to the Professor, the ideal candidate of tomorrow will need to combine a strong technological component with a tangible knowledge of operations, placing his skills in the intersection between the supply chain and the technology that controls it.
“So, where will the drivers go?”
In the Industry’s 4.0 horizon, we see “an authentic mimic of our cerebral functions, fully focused on results”. That is why José finishes his speech with the same inquisitive stand that started it:
“Do we have a future or not?”
The reality is that answers will only emerge when universities and society come together. For this same reason, four executives were invited to join Crespo de Carvalho in the discussion panel. At this round-table were José da Costa Faria, Commercial and Marketing Director of GEFCO, Afonso Almeida, CEO of Agro Merchants, Jorge Marques dos Santos, President of CTCV, and António Belmar da Costa, General Secretary of AGEPOR.
Additionally, it was necessary to give voice to those who represent this disruption. As such, the Argentinian start-up Cargofive, currently under the Nova SBE's acceleration program, also joined the discussion. The company has stood out in the area of supply chain management for developing solutions relative to contract management and optimization, automation of the quotation process and commercial control.
As the sun set in the background, there was still time left to catch up and enjoy some delicacies. It is certainly easier to accept the harsh shift in the industry with a full stomach and in good company.
As Marta Fortunato, Head of Department and Management Training at The Navigator Company and a keen member of the crowd, concluded:
“The conference on supply chain was an excellent opportunity to assist once again to a lecture by Professor Crespo Carvalho, as well as the other invited speakers, and to reflect on the subject in question. It was an excellent initiative that brought companies closer to the university and approached different perspectives on multiple contemporaneous topics. From the organization, speakers and location to the timing and casual environment, everything was perfect. Congratulations for the initiative, I hope it was the first of many.“