September 27, 2016

Second day of CSCMP conference addresses disruption

Seth Bodnar of GE Transportation highlights how the software revolution is meeting the industrial revolution in smart products and machines.

By Susan K. Lacefield

The second day of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Annual Conference opened with a focus on leading and responding to disruptions in the marketplace.

Seth Bodnar, digital technology officer for GE Transportation, talked about how software, data, and analytics are transforming the industrial marketplace. It’s a matter of “either disrupt or get disrupted,” Bodnar said.

As an example, Bodnar pointed out that most people think of locomotives as large hunks of black metal puffing down the track. GE Transportation, however, is “turning locomotives into mobile data centers.” Embedded with more than 200 sensors, these engines use analytics to drive more efficiently.

He also described how GE is becoming a “digital industrial” company and hopes to be known as a top 10 software company by 2020. “The software revolution is now meeting the industrial revolution,” he said.

Bodnar offered some operating principles for this new era:

  • Customer outcome trumps everything else. Bodnar said that it is important to remember that success comes not from focusing on what the competition is doing, but instead focusing on what the customer wants.
  • Speed is the new intellectual property. It’s no longer about how much you know, Bodnar said, but how quickly you can learn and innovate.
  • Empower teams. Bodnar believes that smaller teams that are situated farther from headquarters are generally more productive. Borrowing from a principle used by the U.S. military to combat the insurgency in Iraq, Bodnar said that employees should be told that “in absence of orders, figure out what should be done and execute aggressively.”
  • Fight the war you are in, not the war you want. Companies should not hold onto old ways of measuring themselves or focusing on traditional competitors. The market has moved on.
Supply Chain Hall of Fame

CSCMP also took a moment during the main morning session to recognize past supply chain disruptors by inducting Henry Ford, J.B. Hunt, and Malcom McLean into the newly created Supply Chain Hall of Fame. Henry Ford was recognized for his success at implementing mass production ideas and revolutionizing manufacturing. J.B. Hunt was honored for helping to pioneer the concept of intermodal shipping, and Malcom McLean for creating the modern shipping container.

The conference continues tomorrow with three “mega sessions” on business intelligence, innovation, and last-mile delivery.

More coverage from CSCMP's 2016 Annual Conference