Well just finished a couple of long days at the Sustainable Supply Chain Summit (held in San Francisco California) run by Eye for Transport and was impressed by the current state of this topic. Out of many pages of notes, I came away with a couple key observations summarized below for your interpretation.
· Over the course of two days I attended session that included 19 speakers. It was interesting that out of the 19 speakers that I witnessed, 12 were LOB heads and not primarily responsible for sustainability topics. This is good news and possibly one indication that the line of business continues to pick up and place higher priority on the topic.
· Supplier transparency and green logistics still remain the top focus areas for sustainable supply chain. Companies continue to focus on improving the performance of their supply base to reduce risk and create transparency. Also, as important are key ROI (return on investment) driven results achieved primarily through green logistics. Companies are looking to prove sustainability drives real business value and in the area of supply chain, companies are turning to logistics as the best available case study.
· Sustainable Supply Chain still appears to be a key topic for large global brands. Industries focused on sustainable supply chain can be demonstrated by the speakers at this event and the organizations they represent. The main speakers at the summit were focused from a couple key industries including telecommunications (3 speakers), consumer products (6 speakers), and high tech (5 speakers). This also appears to be a growing topic for utilities and logistics providers as their industries were also well represented.
· In terms of why companies focus on sustainable supply chain there was one common and well discussed theme. That regardless of the actual reasons, every initiative done in this area should be driven from a real business case with tangible organizational value. Companies are very aware that “Green Washing” does not stop at the external brand and consumer level. Outside of this main concern, the top reasons specifically brought up in discussions included the following:
o Competitiveness – needing to adapt and change business
o Cost savings
o Requirements for new information - brand and risk
o Customer compliance
o Need to get ahead of potential future regulations
o Efficiency gains
So as you see sustainable supply chain continues to be a leading topic of interest for many organizations concerned about the current and future state of their business. Supply chain provides a reduction and efficiency view of sustainability that may hold the long term key for company viability and success.