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ASCM BLOG

Repairing the Disconnects in Our Food Supply Chain

April 17, 2020

As food banks struggle to meet demand and grocery stores shelves sit empty, farmers around the world are watching their produce rot, flooding thousands of gallons of milk down the drain, and breaking eggs rather than allowing chicks to hatch.

Coronavirus Escalates to Recession, but Swift Recovery Is Achievable

April 10, 2020

This is the first time in modern history that we have experienced a global recession that was triggered by a public health crisis. “The economic impact is and will be severe, but the faster the virus stops, the quicker and stronger the recovery will be,” says International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. She adds that, in order to recover in 2021, countries must prioritize containment and strengthening health systems.

Cut Through the Hype to Enable Your Digital Supply Chain

April 9, 2020

In the age of COVID-19, building advanced supply chain capabilities is more important than ever. Customer requirements, corporate goals, market dynamics and available data are changing rapidly, and all can have a significant impact on best practices, talent and agility — especially in turbulent times. To be successful at developing your supply chain of the future, the four foundational dimensions of people, process, data and technology must be addressed simultaneously. Here’s how.

3 Steps to Tracking COVID-19 Supply Chain Damage

April 8, 2020

It’s no exaggeration to say that the current pandemic is posing an unprecedented challenge to supply chain resilience. Broadly speaking, that disruption matters little compared to the continued loss of life; still, for businesses — especially those without significant resources — it matters.

Business Continuity in a Pandemic: Safeguard Your People and Partners

April 7, 2020

Organizations worldwide have been reacting to the COVID-19 outbreak in many ways. Public health, appropriately, is the first priority right now. But the health of businesses and the global economy are also essential to public welfare. Thus, it is urgent that organizations review and update their business continuity plans and procedures to ensure operational resiliency.

A 5-Step Guide to Keeping Your Supply Chain Moving During the COVID-19 Crisis

April 6, 2020

In this time of unprecedented uncertainty and chaos, organizations are determined to keep their supply chains operational, which means navigating major shipping delays, panic-buying and factory closures. Here are five steps supply management professionals can take to protect their supply chains.

Supply Chain Mapping — an Essential Step Toward Resilience

April 3, 2020

As the global economy tackles the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a whopping 70% of companies are still grappling with information-gathering and evaluation. These businesses are attempting to manually identify which of their suppliers have a site in a locked-down region, secure raw materials and components, and protect their network from further disruption. With essential data absent or unobtainable, response to the outbreak is reactive and unsynchronized, making the impact even worse.

Understand the Future of Retail

April 2, 2020

In the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, before the World Health Organization called the disease caused by the novel coronavirus a pandemic, the first effects many seemed to notice were about consumer purchasing: People were stockpiling toilet paper and beans. The latter is a logical pantry staple if you’re planning to cook more at home. Toilet paper, on the other hand, was one of the first indications that consumers weren’t just preparing for a potential illness: They were panic buying. Consumers were worried about a sudden lack of resources.

Surviving COVID-19 Through Digital Transformation

April 1, 2020

Supply chain disruptions, like the one we are currently experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will continue to happen. Just think about the last few years: a major fire in China; a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan; a volcanic eruption in northern Europe; several large hurricanes in the southern United States; an ocean carrier going bankrupt, stranding thousands of shipping containers; trade wars between just about every country; withdrawal or significant changes in trade agreements such as Brexit; and, to top it off, a pandemic that has kicked off the latest global recession.

“Business as Unusual” — Global Health Supply Chain Leader Eliud Muriithi Shares Insights About the Coronavirus Pandemic

March 30, 2020

Editor’s note: Eliud Muriithi is director of commercial services at Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA). KEMSA is a state corporation under the Ministry of Health whose mandate is to procure, warehouse, and distribute drugs and medical supplies. These supplies are provided for prescribed public health programs, the national strategic stock reserve, prescribed essential health packages and national referral hospitals. KEMSA also supports county governments in establishing and maintaining appropriate supply chain systems for drugs and medical supplies to health institutions.

Rapid Responsiveness and Innovation

March 27, 2020

As people everywhere confront the terrible effects of coronavirus, supply chains are adapting and stepping up to ease the impact. In addition to countless manufacturers producing around the clock for essential industries, many are retooling to provide first responders and health care workers with vital equipment. Others are reaching communities affected by the outbreak by manufacturing supplies, donating space for hospitals and much more.

Prime Your Supply Chain for What’s Next with Digital Tools

March 26, 2020

Unpredictable behavior in response to macro events creates demand volatility in every link of our global supply chain. As the bullwhip effect demonstrates, it only takes relatively small fluctuations in supply or demand to create massive bottlenecks. Huge, unexpected demand changes can bring unprepared companies to their knees.

10 Trends that Will Drive Your IT Investments

March 26, 2020

Technology leaders and their counterparts must work together to ensure they are maximizing the value derived from both current and future technology investments. The following predictions are intended to help organizational decision makers devise a strong investment plan for the coming year through 2025.

5 Military Principles to Help Supply Chain Organizations in Uncertain Times

March 25, 2020

Uncertainty is one of the most destructive forces to plans and operations. Uncertainty builds fear, fear creates inaction, and inaction halts progress. Today, the uncertainty we are facing is fueled by closings, ongoing economic shocks, medical risks and an end that is not in sight. However, just as the U.S. military mitigates the effects of uncertainty through training and standard operating practices, military principles can help us all succeed and even thrive during the coming months.

Essential Demand Planning Strategies as Recession Looms

March 24, 2020

As the coronavirus outbreak develops, it seems undeniable that we are approaching the end of the current economic cycle and a recession is approaching. A recession is a meaningful event for most organizations, which necessitates that demand planning and sales and operations planning (S&OP) leaders prepare for the inevitable impact on our businesses.

Enhance Remote Team Performance in the COVID-19 Environment

March 23, 2020

Escalating concerns about the impact and spread of COVID-19 are causing major changes in the way businesses and society operate, nationally and internationally. As a result of major anxiety about health safety, businesses are taking precautions as they cancel events and ask employees to work from home. While remote workplaces are nothing new, the importance of effective, consistent communication in this environment is essential to maintaining productivity. Here are seven ways to boost remote communications...

Responding to Demand in the Age of COVID-19

March 20, 2020

As the coronavirus outbreak develops across the globe, Amazon is reporting a surge of orders putting extreme pressure on its operations. To keep up with online shopping demand, the retail giant plans to hire 100,000 people and raise pay for workers at its warehouses and delivery centers.

Coronavirus Outbreak Reveals the Weakest Links in the Supply Chain: the Supplier’s Supplier

March 19, 2020

The impact of coronavirus is both global and unpredictable. The supply chain shock it is causing will cut into worldwide manufacturing revenue of $15 trillion, according to global tech market advisory firm ABI Research’s “Supply Chain Trends and Technologies in 2020” application analysis report.

That Software Update Is More Critical than You Think

March 19, 2020

Advances in technology facilitate the introduction of new software products at a faster rate than ever before. In fact, software vendors release new product versions as often as multiple times a month, weekly or even daily. In a highly competitive software market, vendors are under pressure to offer the latest and greatest features that outpace their opponents and meet the needs of their customers.

8 Tactics to Manage the Impact of Coronavirus on Your Supply Chain

March 13, 2020

Yesterday, ASCM hosted a webinar on supply chain preparedness in the face of COVID-19. Cosponsored by Supply Chain Canada, the event featured Jim Kilpatrick, global supply chain and network operations leader at Deloitte Consulting; and Gregory Schlegel, CPIM, founder of the Supply Chain Risk Management Consortium. These risk management experts discussed numerous topics related to the outbreak and its ongoing effects on supply chains around the world. Following are some of their key strategies. I hope they will help you and your organization navigate the crisis, mitigate any negative impacts, and position your networks to succeed as markets ultimately return to a normal cadence.

Close the Supply Chain Skills Gap with Reskilling and Upskilling

March 11, 2020

In our ever-changing world, we must be willing to adapt if we are to keep pace with new realities. As our environment evolves, so must the way we live, learn and work. Industries evolve with technology, and that means the workforce needs to evolve as well. Supply chain is no exception. This field already has to contend with a number of technological and systematic advancements — and several more game changers are just over the horizon.

Weatherproof Your Supply Chain

March 10, 2020

What are some of the worst risk scenarios for your supply chain? A brand-damaging product recall? A cybersecurity breach? Major equipment failure? Most risk scenarios can be avoided or at least mitigated. But then you have the weather. Try as we might, we cannot control it. Today’s forecasting technology produces relatively accurate estimates of weather conditions, storm paths and precipitation amounts, but it cannot yet track weather disasters down to the minutest levels in order to help companies determine if they need to initiate their emergency preparedness plans.

Exciting Tech Revitalizes the Value of Plastics

March 6, 2020

“For decades, product design, production, sale and use have followed the take, make and dispose industrial model,” writes SCM Now magazine “Relevant Research” author Richard E. Crandall, PhD, CFPIM, CIRM, CSCP. “The manufacturing company takes natural and synthetic resources; converts them to a product; and then sells the item to a consumer, who ultimately uses and then disposes of it. In this model, products are designed to be sold at a low price, are not intended to have long lives and are difficult to service.”

Digital Transformation in Supply Chain Planning: Barrier or Enabler?

March 5, 2020

Has your company initiated a digital transformation initiative? Digital transformation marks a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people and processes to improve business performance. When the latest technology is implemented correctly, it has the potential to optimize processes, reduce costs and boost earnings. In fact, McKinsey & Co. estimates that companies that aggressively digitize their supply chains can boost their annual earnings before interest and taxes by 3.2% and their annual revenue by 2.3%.

Master Inventory Management by Going Back to Basics

March 3, 2020

Do you have a love-hate relationship with inventory? You love that inventory makes it possible to satisfy your customers and help your company prosper. But you hate that not having enough inventory creates dissatisfied customers and lost business; or too much of the wrong kind of inventory clutters your warehouse and hogs your cashflow.

Unavoidable Disruption — and Why It’s a Good Thing

February 28, 2020

Disruptive innovation, a phrase coined in 1995 by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, describes a product or service that initially takes hold at the bottom of a marketplace, but relentlessly expands until it eventually displaces established competitors. Some well-known examples include personal computers supplanting mainframes, mobile phones replacing hard-wired lines, and subscription streaming services overtaking video rental stores.

Make the Best of Ongoing E-Commerce Challenges

February 26, 2020

Numbers are a proxy for reality. E-commerce has been growing rapidly and even accelerating in the last 10 years. Forecasts by eMarketer estimate that online sales will reach more than $4 trillion in 2020. This rapid growth in e-commerce is spurring dynamic changes that greatly influence the logistics and transportation management that support the retail industry. Here are five key areas being affected by the rapid e-commerce growth.

Engaging Future Talent

February 21, 2020

More and more organizations today are discovering nontraditional ways to fill the growing talent gap. Some are founding entirely new technical schools. Others are hiring ex-convicts. And companies including IBM are tapping into people who lack advanced degrees.

Prepare Your Supply Chain Organization for Blockchain

February 20, 2020

Blockchain is garnering a tremendous amount of hype as a potentially world-changing technology in the realm of manufacturing and supply chain. Advocates tout benefits such as increased efficiency, reduced transaction costs, and more control and transparency across all supply chain activities. The technology may well transform manufacturing and supply chain operations, but, before this vision can be realized, learn how to overcome the typical hurdles.

Supply Chain Metamorphosis

February 18, 2020

Life as a supply chain manager has drastically changed over the years. Today’s young professionals would laugh hysterically if they were asked to work the way we did back in the 1980s. In fact, all of us would. Back then, I was a buyer/planner. I remember walking into the office on Monday mornings and being given a massive green-and-white, pin-fed computer printout. It was roughly 18 inches wide and two inches thick, containing our weekly material requirements planning (MRP) run for all parts within our respective portfolios.

Do You Have the Right Mindset?

February 14, 2020

Each year, companies across the globe spend a whopping $356 billion on employee training, education and leadership-development initiatives. Unfortunately, few of these businesses see a meaningful return on that investment. According to a recent study, this is because organizations neglect a quality that is essential to how people learn, make decisions and conduct themselves — their mindsets.

Use Artificial Intelligence to Improve Reverse Logistics

February 13, 2020

Many executives have administrative assistants who schedule their meetings, manage their calendars and keep them on task. This frees up the executive to focus on building relationships, come up with big picture ideas and run the company. What if you could hire an administrative assistant to manage your company’s reverse-logistics operations? And what if that assistant was a robot?

Safety-Shoe Manufacturer Applies S&OP with Form and Function

February 11, 2020

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have an impressive ability to innovate, create and mobilize resources in response to unexpected scenarios. Sometimes, however, it’s difficult to realize the value of change until you’re already in the middle of it. That was the case for Base Protection, a designer and manufacturer of workplace safety shoes headquartered in Barletta, Italy.

Upskilling Supply Chain Professionals for a Sustainable Future

February 7, 2020

This week, I attended the GreenBiz 20 conference, which enables sustainability-focused professionals to explore business trends and develop recommendations for better organizational accountability and reporting. Those of us who participated in the supply chain track identified a number of tactics for aligning sustainability goals with supply chain activities. Two key strategies were enhanced cross-training and ongoing professional development.

5 Ways to Improve Warehouse Operations with Autonomous Mobile Robots

February 6, 2020

The market for autonomous mobile robots has proven to be quite dynamic. The barriers to entry are rather low from a product development perspective, but the barriers to success are quite high. For this reason, experts expect that the warehouse landscape will look significantly different in the near future as more companies overcome these barriers.

Play to Their Strengths

February 4, 2020

As executives, we all rely on others to make positive contributions to the organization. However, sometimes people fall short. As leaders, it may be tempting to just say, “Well, they can’t do it,” or “They don’t get it.” Instead, I suggest looking in the mirror and asking, “How can I foster an environment in which this person can excel?”

Coronavirus Outbreak Amplifies Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Risk

January 31, 2020

The number of reported Coronavirus cases has surged to more than 10,000, with the death toll rising to 213. The New York Times’ Chris Buckley, chief China correspondent, reports from the epicenter of the outbreak: “It may be difficult to envisage just how thoroughly people have retreated from the streets and from public life. ... A lot of them wonder how long the shutdown can last. Even now, people are worrying about the jobs they may lose, the businesses that will close.”

How Industrial Real Estate Owners Can Meet Evolving E-Commerce Needs

January 30, 2020

Now that we are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the world is changing rapidly in the face of exponential innovation that will permeate every facet of life. The way we do business and interact with each other is undergoing a shift not seen since the first Industrial Revolution. New technologies — such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence and robots — are changing the way companies operate. At the same time, consumer expectations for customized products, product transparency and fast delivery are putting increased pressures on supply networks.

Easy Inventory Management Tweaks That Will Impress Your Boss

January 29, 2020

If your boss is like most, they are probably impressed by measurable results, such as the dollar value of cost cuts and percentage increases in efficiency. When managing indirect inventory in a manufacturing facility, though, it can sometimes seem that significant, measurable changes require a major effort, such as months of meetings seemingly involving everyone from the security guard to the chief financial officer and an elaborate rollout plan.

What Can Machine Learning Do for Your Supply Chain?

January 28, 2020

With all the fanfare surrounding machine learning, people are often surprised to learn that it has been around since 1959. This was when Arthur Samuel, a gaming and artificial intelligence (AI) engineer working for IBM, coined the term to describe the concept behind his revolutionary invention: a self-learning, checkers-playing program. Machine learning is a type of AI that enables computers to become smarter by performing tasks without any explicit programming.

Seek Out These 10 Qualities for Ongoing Career Success

January 24, 2020

Do you know which skills are most vital to your professional future? More importantly, do you possess them? According to the new World Economic Forum (WEF) report, “The Future of Jobs,” the top 10 proficiencies and workforce strategies for 2020 and beyond are...

Why Traceability in Manufacturing Matters More Now than Ever Before

January 22, 2020

When operating an efficient product supply chain, every component matters. The ability to track each piece from its origin at the supplier’s facility to its final delivery to customers should no longer just be a benefit or add-on service. It is a necessity. With an even greater focus on quality control and compliance across the manufacturing sector, as well as increased customer scrutiny of how raw materials are sourced and processed, traceability is more important than ever.

Make Unplanned Spend a Problem of the Past

January 21, 2020

Unplanned expenses are a fact of business. Something unexpected will happen, which results in a last-minute purchase, known as spot buying, to resolve the issue. Although some unplanned spend is acceptable — and even important — as occasional exceptions, especially when planned for in the budget, it cannot become the norm.

What Young Professionals Should Know about Blockchain

January 20, 2020

In the past few years, experts have increasingly touted the benefits of blockchain in supply chain. Numerous high-profile tests have piloted the technology to support greater supply chain transparency. But is blockchain really going to be as revolutionary as experts promise? And will it affect supply chain professionals’ roles? To find out, I connected with David Bambuck Bien-Aimé, Blockchain Guru’s Montreal-area regional director, to learn more about the company’s efforts in the supply chain field. Blockchain Guru is a Calgary, Alberta-based consulting and software development firm.

Eating Local, Even if You’re on the Express

January 17, 2020

While walking through a subway station, you expect to see newsstands, coffee shops, maybe a pharmacy or convenience store. Stumbling upon a farm would be, to say the least, a surprise. But that’s exactly what commuters inside Seoul’s Sangdo Station are finding. Underground along Line 7, passengers encounter a glass-walled room alive with leafy greens, herbs and edible flowers.

Don’t Let Economic Sanctions Rattle Your Supply Chain

January 14, 2020

The U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), recently announced that e.l.f. Cosmetics would pay a penalty of nearly $1 million to settle potential civil liability for more than 150 U.S. sanctions violations. e.l.f.'s offense? Importing fake eyelash kits from North Korea. Fake eyelashes may not be a top national security concern, but the penalties e.l.f. is suffering are very real — even though the company believed the kits were made in China.

Mattel Tones Down Supply Chain Complexity

January 10, 2020

For more than half a century, Mattel’s Hot Wheels cars have been a toy box staple. Hot Wheels were designed to look like modified hot rods or fantasy cars, often having flames painted on the sides and fantastical proportions. In addition to the toy cars themselves, the accompanying racetrack sets included connecting sections of road and ramps, as well as superchargers made from battery-powered spinning wheels to thrust the cars forward. Top speeds along these iconic bright orange ramps have been clocked at 600 scale miles per hour (just over 9 real miles per hour). This extraordinary speed was made possible by the cars’ uniquely high-quality bearings, which were actually conceived by a former Raytheon missile engineer.

APICS Education Yields People and Process Benefits

January 6, 2020

After five years of 25 percent annual growth, Load King Manufacturing Company was feeling some growing pains. Leaders at the Jacksonville, Fla.-based full-service turnkey package provider were concerned about work quality and order commitments being compromised. They also knew that they needed to fully train and engage the more than 125 new employees.

Visionary Manufacturing

January 3, 2020

Last month, Tesla unveiled its Cybertruck, and the internet was instantly flooded with reactions from fans and critics alike. Some appreciated the electric pickup’s futuristic design, while others called it absurd, brutalist and a stainless steel triangle. The majority of the comments were about CEO Elon Musk’s botched stunt at the presentation: A metal ball was hurled at the Cybertruck’s so-called unbreakable windows, which shattered immediately — both times.

Welcoming Innovation and Growth in 2020

December 27, 2019

In 1974, IBM engineer George Laurer combined 12 digits and 30 parallel bars of varying widths and spaces to invent the universal product code (UPC). A few months later, the first UPC was scanned in an Ohio grocery store on a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum. (That scanner is now in the Smithsonian.)

The Magic of Mentorship

December 23, 2019

Editor’s note: Priyanka Pande, CPIM, is a sourcing analyst at Santander US. She earned her Master of Science in engineering management and a graduate certificate in supply chain from Northeastern University in 2017. A few years ago, Pande sought a mentor who could help her navigate her job search, supply chain career goals and more. She reached out to Gary Smith, CPIM-F, CSCP-F, CLTD-F, chief of enterprise asset management at MTA New York City Transit. SCM Now Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Rennie recently had the opportunity to speak with them about their experiences, their mentor-mentee process and lessons learned from this relationship.

5 Supply Chain Cures for Winter Break Cabin Fever

December 20, 2019

No matter how your family celebrates at this time of year, one thing is certain: School’s out, and the kids need to be entertained — often for as long as three full weeks. “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” comes on the radio, and I bet every caregiver knows exactly what Perry Como or Bing Crosby are talking about when they sing, “Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again.”

E-Commerce Holiday Delivery Speeds Soar

December 20, 2019

With December 25th just a few days away, there’s no doubt that the elves are putting in some overtime at Santa’s workshop. According to tradition here in America, enough toys for all the children in the world are currently being manufactured on a sprawling campus way up in the North Pole. It’s a family business, with the complex also housing Santa, Mrs. Claus and at least eight reindeer.

Upholding Human Rights in Gold Supply Chains

December 13, 2019

This past Tuesday, we celebrated Human Rights Day, in honor of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Drafted by representatives from across the globe, this milestone document was proclaimed December 10, 1948, for the first time declaring fundamental human rights to be universally protected.

Attract Applicants with Standout Job Descriptions

December 12, 2019

The competition for top supply chain talent is fierce. Many organizations struggle to fill job vacancies in a timely manner. One of the most common mistakes companies make is failing to craft job descriptions that appeal and motivate people to act. Spend a few minutes on any job board and you will see numerous awful job descriptions. Many contain nothing but a generic list of tasks, responsibilities and desired skills. Job descriptions like this reek of indifference, convey that the employer is not interested in engaging its employees, and ultimately do much more harm than good.

Circular Supply Chains Will Shift SCOR Supply Chain Skills

December 10, 2019

Workforce skills, experiences and training become critical for the transition to a circular economy. Supply chain roles make up 40% of the jobs in the United States, and these roles will shift over time, prompting an update of skills, experiences and training.

Meet the New Seasonal Worker

December 6, 2019

Robots are amazing things. They conquer chess legends and Jeopardy champs. They conduct world-renowned symphony orchestras. One day, they may even help humans establish habitats on other planets. Most job-seekers also know that robots are now helping recruiters and hiring managers review resumes, using algorithms to identify the most promising candidates. But is it time for robots to start polishing up their own resumes? If they do, the industrious ones might just make a few extra bucks this season.

Circular Supply Chains Will Shift SCOR Supply Chain Practices

December 4, 2019

Supply chains around the world will be challenged to shift their habits to support new business models. The increased complexity that will be managed by global supply chains will be represented by future Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model versions.

Top Supply Chains Favor Leadership Over Process

December 3, 2019

Supply chains are internal superhighways, deeply integrated in all organizational functions. They have the unique capability to span facilities, divisions, departments and teams while generating accretive value for the business. Therefore, as companies search for new ways to create competitive advantage, the effective management of global supply chains is uniquely critical — particularly with regards to leadership and cultural components. With this in mind, the authors of this article wanted to explore a few key questions:

Broadening the Potential of Holiday Shopping

November 29, 2019

Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday are technically different events, with the continuing escalation of e-commerce, they are quickly fusing into one giant retail bonanza. This pre-holiday shopping spree is a time for consumers to enjoy deep discounts and BOGO offers; extended business hours; and, for some, a ritual that’s as much about gift-getting as gift-giving.

Gathering with Gratitude

November 22, 2019

Over the years, Thanksgiving has taken on many different meanings: an opportunity to express thanks, a showing of appreciation for family and community, a way to teach young people about our traditions and values. But as the holiday evolves, one thing stays the same: Thanksgiving is about gathering together.

Prepare for the New Seaborne Trade Low-Sulfur Emissions Standards

November 22, 2019

Studies show that about 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to ocean-going ships. In fact, if global shipping were a country, it would be the sixth largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. More than 90% of global trade is carried across the world’s oceans by some 90,000 marine vessels. Still, seaborne trade is much more economical and environmentally efficient than other modes of transportation.

The Journey to Digital Procurement Transformation

November 21, 2019

Technology’s impact on a business more often than not depends on the business owner’s willingness to adapt. The same can be said for procurement. To successfully lead and capitalize on digital transformations, procurement directors must take into account several key strategic considerations.

Circular Supply Chains Will Shift SCOR Supply Chain Performance Metrics

November 19, 2019

In the circular economy, materials and resources loop throughout processes indefinitely. Supply and demand loops among value networks allow for types of monetization that were previously impossible. On a global scale, this circular economy is expected to add $4.5 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

A Little S&OP Clarity

November 18, 2019

Every so often my head hurts. This typically happens while listening to sales and operations planning (S&OP) critics drone on about the need for executive engagement, reading about how short-armed the planning horizon is, or overhearing people complain about the lack of cross-functional engagement. Hogwash!

The Lifesaving Potential of Drones

November 15, 2019

Reading current news headlines, it’s clear that the global supply chain landscape is constantly being reshaped by innovation. This past week, it was drones garnering much of the media attention.

Circular Supply Chains Will Shift SCOR Supply Chain Processes

November 12, 2019

Imagine: All waste and process by-products in the world will become the raw materials and inputs needed by all the processes in the world. In turn, the maintenance, refurbishment and remanufacturing industries will dramatically increase in size and value. Then, aftermarket supply chains will become the dominant model as linear supply chains give way to circular supply chains.

Cascading Sustainability Commitments

November 11, 2019

When “Working Green” first launched more than 11 years ago, the world was clawing its way through the Great Recession. Though the concept of sustainability seemed to be gaining momentum, many were skeptical, and investment in going green was limited. In that context, the authors chose to focus on sustainability issues as supply chain professionals would and use this department to highlight best practices, pitfalls and key lessons learned. By taking this approach, we hoped to provoke thought and promote the exchange of ideas.

Is Your Supply Chain Recall-Ready?

November 8, 2019

Supply chains are built on trust. We trust our suppliers to deliver product on time and to established specifications. Our suppliers trust us to be open and operate with fairness and integrity. We trust our employees to support the company mission through their performance, contributions and ongoing engagement. They trust us to compensate them fairly, provide learning and development opportunities, and create a positive environment in which to work. And of course, our customers trust that all of these aspects align in order to ensure they receive a high-quality and safe product.

Toward a Circular Supply Chain: Shifts in SCOR Supply Chain Habits

November 5, 2019

Today’s global wealth has been built with the power of a linear economy, which is supported by linear supply chains around the world. These supply chains move materials from extraction to refining and processing operations; to a series of manufacturing plants; through ports, warehouses and cross-docks; and finally to the point of use. Most of this movement happens in a one-way flow.

Be a Fast-Paced Supply Chain Influencer

November 1, 2019

In today’s social media-driven world, consumer opinions and demands can shift overnight. A seemingly ordinary item can become part of the next hottest trend as soon as an Instagram influencer, YouTuber or other social media celebrity posts a photo or video about the item.

Generate Worth from Waste

October 25, 2019

Here in ASCM’s hometown of Chicago, about 55 million pounds of food is wasted each month, despite the fact that one in six Chicagoans suffers from food insecurity. Alan Reed, executive director of nonprofit Chicagoland Food & Beverage, says this regrettable fact is what compels his organization to work with both industry and food banks “in order to find new and innovative ways to address these issues.”

Expose Modern-Day Supply Chain Slavery

October 24, 2019

If you are like many supply chain professionals, you won-der about the corporate social responsibility and ethical standards in the far tiers of your supply chain, particularly those in developing countries. You hope people are receiv-ing adequate wages, have a safe environment in which to work and are given decent supervision. Yet, there is an uncomfortable reality that must be acknowledged: Slavery is alive and well in many areas of today’s supply chains. Some workers have entered debt-bondage arrangements — sometimes by being tricked and other times because they had no choice. What has resulted is a crisis that continues to elude many supply chain professionals. But there are things you can do to help put an end to it.

High-Skilled Manufacturing Jobs Create Positive Social Impact in Africa

October 18, 2019

The Mara Group, developer of Africa’s first high-tech, smartphone factory, has begun selling two types of phones. President Paul Kagame says this is a breakthrough development for his country that will put smartphone ownership within reach of more Rwandans.

Collaborating to End Modern-Day Slavery

October 11, 2019

Last week, Cape Town hosted the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) World Congress 2019. Activists and lawyers from around the world shared information about the escalating modern slave trade and the millions of victims being exploited in global supply chains today.

Is Blockchain the Remedy to Health Care Logistics Issues?

October 4, 2019

Increasingly, pharmaceutical companies are putting blockchain to the test in order to track and trace the drugs they manufacture and ship. In fact, according to Healthcare Weekly, blockchain is “getting massive attention” in health care, with 40 percent of industry executives reporting that it is one of their top five priorities.

Harnessing the Power of Supply Chain

September 27, 2019

At ASCM, we know the world of supply chain is bigger than boxes stacked in a warehouse and containers crossing an ocean. Supply chains are evolving at an extraordinary rate, reaching everyone and everything. This is why it is more essential than ever before to make an impact by fulfilling our responsibility to create a better world through supply chain.

Keep Your Warehouse Properties on Track

September 25, 2019

Now that we are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the world is changing rapidly in the face of exponential innovation that will permeate every facet of life. The way we do business and interact with each other is undergoing a shift not seen since the first Industrial Revolution. New technologies — such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence and robots — are changing the way companies operate. At the same time, consumer expectations for customized products; product transparency; and fast, on-time delivery are putting increased pressures on supply networks.

An Inspiring Visual Dialogue at ASCM 2019

September 20, 2019

I have just returned home after a week in Las Vegas at ASCM 2019. Our staff and volunteers made the event a huge success — I couldn’t be prouder of their dedication and talent. There were so many highlights this year: The conference kicked off with keynote speaker Fareed Zakaria, CNN Worldwide host, Washington Post columnist and best-selling author, who motivated attendees to take another look at their supply chains in order to thrive within the incredible complexity of Globalization 3.0.

The Price, and Value, of Keeping It Local

September 13, 2019

The American textile industry is the largest in the world. Yet remarkably few pieces of clothing actually carry a Made in the USA label. This circumstance can be traced back to the 1970s, when large textile mills emerged in Asia and Latin America. They offered inexpensive labor and materials, plus the ability to produce large orders very quickly.

Dominating the CSCP

September 11, 2019

At the beginning of the year, I decided to pursue the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) designation. In July, I sat for the exam and passed, which has led to my receiving countless questions about my journey. This article is intended to provide anyone considering earning this certification with all the lessons learned, tips and answers needed to be successful.

Goodyear Inflates Employee Know-How

September 6, 2019

The skills gap and ongoing talent shortage continue to be some of the greatest dilemmas facing today’s supply chains. According to the new Manufacturing Institute report “The Aging of the Manufacturing Workforce,” 97 percent of firms express at least some concern about their highly skilled workers retiring or leaving for other opportunities; almost half are “very concerned” about the issue. Next to brain drain, survey respondents worry most about related cost increases, lost productivity and apathetic employees.

Reconsidering the Purpose of Business

August 30, 2019

In 1776, Scottish economist Adam Smith asserted that the essential function of a business was to generate profit and increase shareholder wealth. Also known as the Father of Capitalism, Smith identified profitability as a corporation’s defining quality.

Hong Kong Airport Protests Shock Supply Chains

August 23, 2019

Last year, 5.1 million metric tons of air cargo passed through Hong Kong, making it the world’s busiest hub for air cargo traffic. When protests disrupt such an active facility, it’s no wonder that supply chains around the world are unnerved.

Online Stores Confront Soaring Return Rates from German Consumers

August 16, 2019

German shoppers send back 12% of their online purchases, creating huge economic and logistical issues for e-commerce retailers and compelling these businesses to reexamine their return policies. According to a new study by the University of Bamberg, German consumers sent back 5.5 billion euros worth of products last year — more than anywhere else in Europe. The Netherlands followed close behind, trailed by France, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Poland.

How Ingersoll Rand Revives Exhausted Products

August 9, 2019

Industrial manufacturer Ingersoll Rand (IR) has long positioned itself as a company that prioritizes efficiency, energy savings and productivity. As its website states, “With principled leadership and ethical business practices, our high-engagement culture delivers enduring results that lead to a sustainable world.” Recently, IR saw potential to create added value by helping its customers meet their own environmental challenges. As a result, company leaders are taking the conservation philosophy to a new level.

New Brexit Deadline, New Supply Chain Difficulties

August 2, 2019

The United Kingdom had been scheduled to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019 — two years after it began the exit process. However, at this point, the withdrawal agreement has been rejected three times by UK members of parliament. The resulting six-month extension means Britain will now withdraw on October 31, 2019 — likely without a deal to ease its departure.

The 5 Principles of Customer Experience Leadership

July 30, 2019

Customer experience is one of the hottest business topics today. It has come to the forefront in nearly every industry as companies seek to both enhance how they deliver their offerings in a way that is unique to customer needs, fulfilling, immediate, low effort and personalized and create a service people would recommend and purchase again. Customer experience also is a key strategy for companies to differentiate their products and services from close competitors. Increasingly, company leaders have come to discover that creating a customer-centric business, combined with superior products and services, is the way to succeed.

A Shiny New Way to Secure Global Supply Chains

July 26, 2019

As 3D printing continues to transform the way things are made, supply chain professionals are facing a new wave of threats. The infinite number of computer-aided designs available online today significantly increases the likelihood of purchasing counterfeit components. These parts rarely meet required performance standards and make it alarmingly easy for hackers to inject malicious software in high-tech devices. In fact, Gartner says 3D printing can be blamed for the loss of $100 billion of intellectual property per year globally.

Parcel Lockers Ease Urban Gridlock

July 22, 2019

Whether you’re on the sending or receiving end of a package, it’s understandable to be worried about the price tag of urban last-mile delivery, which is estimated to gobble more than half the total cost of shipping goods. To mitigate that hit to the bottom line, it’s important to think strategically about how your supply chain interacts with the city grid — and the inevitable traffic that snarls it. Clearly, you don’t dictate how these things function; but you do have some control over how effectively you navigate them.

Amazon Invests in Potential

July 19, 2019

There is a long tradition of businesses inventing holidays. While Black Friday arose more-or-less organically, Cyber Monday was the brainchild of the National Retail Federation, according to The New York Times. Small Business Saturday was conceived by American Express to be Black Friday’s locally focused counterpart. And now we have Prime Day — Amazon’s annual global shopping extravaganza. Exclusive to Prime members, the sales event features lightning deals that last only until items sell out.

RDCs and Mathematical Optimization Transform a Global Health Supply Chain

July 17, 2019

In supply chain, companies often leverage a regional distribution center (RDC) model to balance performance and cost. For the global health supply chain operated by Chemonics International and a consortium of partners, including IBM, RDCs play a critical role in perpetuating a healthy and robust network. They serve as a demand and supply buffer to meet variation more effectively with limited manufacturing capability, support the pre-positioning of products closer to customers for faster responses, provide an economy of scale to meet storage needs, enable logistics consolidation and serve as holding points for more efficient logistics operations, and provide better access to logistic resources.

Africa Unlocks New Trade Potential

July 12, 2019

At the start of this week, African leaders launched a continental free-trade zone that, if successful, could be an economic game-changer. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is expected to unite the continent’s approximately 1.3 billion people, create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc and begin a new era of economic development, Reuters reports.

Will the Tariff War Extinguish Future July 4 Festivities?

July 2, 2019

My home of Illinois is one of the few states in the nation that has banned consumer fireworks, allowing the sale of only sparklers and other novelties. So, on my way to visit family for the July 4 holiday, it was no surprise as I crossed the border into Kentucky to see fireworks stands displaying Roman candles, fountains, jumping jacks and countless other pyrotechnics.

5 Strategies for Expanding Your Supply Chain Skill Set

June 26, 2019

Industry experts estimate that 270,000 new supply chain management positions are created each year. Furthermore, for every six job openings, there is only one qualified worker available to fill them. To address this ongoing talent gap and prepare to lead the supply chains of the future, industry professionals must hone their skills and continuously develop new capabilities.

5G Will Bring Exciting Advancements to Manufacturing

June 24, 2019

While the potential of 5G to disrupt a wide variety of industries is obvious, manufacturing is primed to benefit the most from these connectivity advancements. Business 4.0 is upon us, and it will bring emerging technologies and innovations that will transform the ways manufacturers operate. 5G will be the fuel for this transformation.

Pioneering Supply Chain Integrity

June 21, 2019

The importance of social responsibility, economic sustainability and ecological stewardship continues to intensify for corporations around the world. A Washington Post article highlights this development with an in-depth look at child labor in the cocoa industry. The Wall Street Journal examines how Bayer is working to earn back consumer confidence after thousands of lawsuits alleged that Roundup causes cancer. And Bloomberg reports that Gap Inc. is acknowledging problems associated with the garment industry’s extraordinary water requirements.

Meat-Free Burger, Hold the Stockout

June 14, 2019

When you envision eating at Burger King, Del Taco, TGI Fridays or White Castle, nutritious plant-based food probably isn’t part of the picture. But in an effort to attract new diners — particularly people seeking healthy, sustainable foods and those following special diets — about 20,000 restaurants across the United States now offer imitation meats such as those produced by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Signaling Truth Amid The Noise

June 10, 2019

Hailed as “the most influential foreign policy adviser of his generation” by Esquire magazine, Fareed Zakaria is host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria Global Public Square (GPS),” a Washington Post columnist, contributing editor at The Atlantic and a bestselling author. He was recently named a “Top 10 Global Thinker” by Foreign Policy magazine.

Why Dollar General Is the Master of Its Own Destiny

June 7, 2019

If you are in the United States, chances are excellent that there is a Dollar General within a five-minute drive. In fact, the discount chain’s enormous footprint reaches so many rural areas that 75 percent of its stores are in towns with 20,000 or fewer residents. This is by design.

The Hidden Costs of Cheap Bananas

May 31, 2019

“The sticker price of bananas seems to remain remarkably steady, almost if by magic,” writes Joe Fassler in The New Food Economy. In reality, bananas are cheaper today than a decade ago. But the lower grocery bills are making things a great deal tougher for banana plantations, their employees and the environment.

Is Your Supply Chain Making an Impact?

May 24, 2019

Mismanaged waste causes hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest people to die each year, according to a recent article in The Guardian. Many of these deaths are easily preventable, particularly those that stem from the dangers of discarded plastic.

People Skills: An Aerial View

May 21, 2019

My daughter and I have been looking at colleges recently, and I must admit that I’m both proud and a little dismayed that her top choices are thousands of miles across the United States. But traveling with her and exploring new parts of the country together has been a wonderful experience that I know will bring us both fantastic memories.

New Tariffs Threaten Technology and Agricultural Supply Chains

May 17, 2019

The escalating tariff war between China and the United States is set to shake up the consumer electronics and agricultural industries.

Three Ways to Uncover the Hidden Job Market

May 10, 2019

The “hidden job market” can be a confusing expression, as most employers aren’t going out of their way to actually hide available jobs. In fact, the hidden job market simply refers to open positions that are not listed in the public domain for candidates to discover and apply for. So, why would a business choose not to publish an open position? There are many reasons:

Can a Robot Do My Grocery Shopping?

May 10, 2019

Grocery shopping, though a necessary part of life, can be a chore. You write a shopping list, perhaps check the supermarket website for what’s on sale, try not to forget your reusable shopping bags, drive to the store, fill your cart, wait in the checkout line, scan your coupons or loyalty app, pay, load your groceries in your car, drive back home, and put everything away.

Be a Supply Chain Ambassador

May 10, 2019

“In the first three months of 2019, employees got so much more work done that they smashed productivity forecasts,” writes Alexia Fernández Campbell for Vox Media. “That’s great for businesses (they earn more money) and for the economy (GDP grows faster). The problem is that companies aren’t rewarding their employees for the extra hard work.”

Leadership Advice, Woman to Woman

May 9, 2019

Recently, I found myself thinking a lot about the challenges that women still face when it comes to proving to others that we can be impactful. Having served in a variety of positions in my 19 years at IBM — and now as chief technology officer at global power solutions company — I have faced the many challenges associated with achieving leadership success. I have also learned that, oftentimes, women doubt ourselves and stand in the way of our own success.

African Swine Fever Hits China’s Hog Industry

May 3, 2019

First identified in the early 1900s, African Swine Fever (ASF) has been responsible for the deaths of countless domestic pigs around the globe. According to the 2018 report African swine fever: A re-emerging viral disease threatening the global pig industry, the virus increased rapidly in throughout sub-Saharan Africa in the last century.

An S&OP Must

April 30, 2019

As I go through life, I see naturally recurring cycles. Ideas, concepts, music tastes and even foods fall in and out of favor. (I’m still waiting for disco to make a comeback so I can bust out my hustle.) Similarly, every four or five years, the conversation about supply chain and sales and operations planning (S&OP) metrics circles around, creating a brief flurry of activity.

5 Creative Ways to Tackle the Truck Driver Shortage

April 25, 2019

Marketing brings to mind campaigns that build brands, hone customer awareness and increase sales. But for transportation companies, targeted marketing has strong potential to create a completely different outcome — identifying and engaging prospective truck drivers.

Unique Logistics, Sweet Deliveries

April 24, 2019

Most of us cringe when vendors show up at our front steps. We crack open the door begrudgingly or even pretend we aren’t home. However, those of us in the United States are eagerly awaiting the sound of the doorbell these days. It’s that wonderful time of year when door-to-door salespeople become welcome guests: Girl Scout cookie season.

10 Strategies for Writing a Winning Awards Entry

April 24, 2019

The 2019 ASCM Awards of Excellence deadline is fast-approaching, so I thought it would be useful to reshare a blog I wrote last year, which includes 10 tips on what really makes an entry stand out. To do so, I first asked our judges what they’re looking for. Then, to get the inside scoop, I spoke with two-time winner Michael Morand, CPIM-F, CSCP-F, CLTD-F, senior manager of supply chain at Johnson & Johnson.

Supply Chain Cybercriminals Get Creative

April 19, 2019

As supply chains become longer, more dependent and extraordinarily complex, cybercriminals are finding alarmingly innovative ways to attack them — and these strikes often trickle down to business partners, processes, information technology (IT) and equipment. Taylor Armerding writes in a recent Forbes article that attackers are increasingly aiming to leverage the relationships among supply chain stakeholders in order to breach every facet of the primary victim’s network.

Accelerating Supply Chains With the Internet Of Things

April 17, 2019

Connected cars, machines, wearables, home appliances and other consumer electronics comprise the internet of things (IOT). These innovations are on the brink of surpassing mobile phones as the largest category of connected devices.

How Novartis Heightened Business Performance

April 12, 2019

With headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis has a global reach of approximately 129,000 associates worldwide and sells products in 155 countries. The company offers a diversified portfolio consisting of medicines, generic and biosimilar pharmaceuticals, and eye care.

Sharing Supply Chain Stories

April 12, 2019

Last night, several ASCM board members, key women team members and I joined 130 remarkable women, who were recognized at the annual Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead Awards gala. The 100 honorees and 30 emerging leaders embody excellence from the factory floor to the C-suite and — perhaps most importantly — are committed to mentoring and supporting the next generation of female talent.

Generative Design and Engineering Productivity

April 8, 2019

The market for software with generative design tools will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 24 percent, reaching $44.5 billion by 2030. According to a new report published by ABI Research, these sales include licenses and subscription revenues for computer-aided design (CAD) products with generative design tools or standalone generative design software products.

Which APICS Certification Is Right for You?

April 8, 2019

The question I’ve been asked most often, in my 25 years as an APICS volunteer and staff person, is “Which of the APICS Certifications is right for me?” APICS is recognized by corporations around the world as the premier provider of certifications in Operations Management, Supply Chain Management, and, now, Logistics, Transportation and Distribution Management, and it can be a little confusing determining which of our certifications will most help your career.

The Supply Chain Secret Is Out

April 4, 2019

For those of us in the field, it’s no surprise that supply chain encourages innovation and generates high-paying, rewarding jobs. Thanks to a new joint research project by the Copenhagen Business School, Harvard Business School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the value of the supply chain economy is now evident to people of all backgrounds and disciplines.

4 Imminent Supply Chain Shakeups

April 4, 2019

With the gathering storms of trade wars, extreme and unpredictable weather conditions, a record-breaking driver shortage, and upended retail practices and customer expectations, there are clearly some momentous shifts coming our way. Supply chain professionals will need to be rethinking their networks, strategies and processes, with four areas in particular deserving our attention:

Stop Pedaling and Start Navigating

March 28, 2019

When was the last time you sat down with your team to thoroughly review your supply chain organization’s progress and future direction? These days, some professionals are so busy that they fail to notice when they’re running to stand still. If most of the work you do involves decisions and activities that affect the next 30 days, then being reactive is your norm. Furthermore, you probably want to do everything yourself because trust is lacking, which may cause high levels of employee turnover.

S&OP and the Digital Supply Chain

March 28, 2019

Unfortunately, according to Gartner’s four-stage, higher-maturity, S&OP model, nearly 70 percent of companies are stuck operating in the reacting and anticipating phases. These areas are most often centered around making a plan and maintaining a regular S&OP meeting in order to balance supply with demand for the good of the enterprise. Consequently, they are totally focused on inward processes and tend to require at least four years to solidify.

Hackers Help Eliminate Supply Chain Vulnerabilities at GM

March 28, 2019

General Motors (GM) designs, manufactures and distributes vehicles and vehicle parts. One of its specializations is technologically advanced cars, such as those with built-in 4G LTE connectivity, semi-autonomous vehicle and electric vehicles.

ASCM Seeks Volunteers for New Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce

March 22, 2019

The majority of people credit diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs with boosting both innovation and employee retention at their companies, according to an executive survey by global consulting firm Korn Ferry. Nevertheless, 59 percent of respondents say they still experience unconscious bias, which is defined as forming social stereotypes about certain groups outside of our conscious awareness.

The Business Case for Empowered Women

March 15, 2019

There are approximately 190 million women working in supply chains around the world today. The jobs they hold assembling products on factory floors, packing cartons in warehouses, and harvesting crops in farm fields should translate to economic independence and a brighter future for their families. Regrettably, that is too often not the case.

Steer Clear of these Five Innovation Killers

March 11, 2019

Innovation is difficult to come by. It is a fleeting concept that eludes most companies. In fact, experts say the odds of a new product idea reaching full commercialization are less than 4 percent. That said, innovation is difficult, but not impossible. Chances are, if your organization is struggling to innovate, you’re doing one or more of the following:

Shifting Gears in Automotive

March 8, 2019

Everybody remembers their first car. Mine was an old Lincoln Continental with doors hinged at the rear, often referred to as “suicide doors,” which are apparently being brought back by the automaker. It was a behemoth of a car — barely getting nine miles per gallon, at a time when the United States was dealing with a gas price spike from 38 to 55 cents!

The Red Queen Hypothesis

March 1, 2019

The Red Queen is a fictional character from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. In the book, the Red Queen explains to Alice that her world works differently: “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

The View From Digital Supply Chain Control Towers

March 1, 2019

As supply chains becomes longer, more global and increasingly complex, supply chain management professionals need a bird’seye view of their networks to ensure that all of the parts are moving together and performing as expected. Some industy experts believe digital supply chain control towers are the best approach for end-toend management.

Women's Worth

March 1, 2019

Today marks the beginning of International Women’s History Month, a global celebration of the social, economic and political achievements of women, as well as a call to advance gender equality worldwide. This is a significant time to reflect on where we have come and what still must be achieved:

Spacious Potential in the Sharing Economy

February 22, 2019

The sharing economy is no longer just a catchy turn of phrase; today, sharing, renting and subscription services are everywhere. AirBnB for your holiday rental; WeWork for freelancers who prefer the office environment; Rover for the pup’s midday walk; Uber and Lyft when you need someone to drive you places; and Zipcar, LimeBike or Bird Scooters when you’d rather do the driving yourself. The potential applications are endless.

Unlock the Potential of Digital Factories

February 20, 2019

If smart manufacturing vendors hope to fulfill the potential of their solutions and platforms for digital factories, they must build environments where apps can deliver immediate results with stream processing and cloud integration at the edge.

Conversation Stoppers

February 15, 2019

Although the second-most popular Valentine’s Day confection was missing from store shelves this season, the conversation was kept alive — largely thanks to agile competitors who saw a market need and filled the emotional void with comparable offerings. Sour Patch Kids produced hearts with teen slang, such as “BAE” and “TOTES.” Krispy Kreme baked up doughnuts with pastel icing and more traditional phrases of affection. And Rival Brach’s has long made nearly identical conversation hearts to the Sweethearts variety.

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