Over the past few months, we’ve heard a lot about the changes ushered in by the pandemic: the rise of remote work, the e-commerce surge, the shift to online meetings. And rightly so. The scourge has essentially upended life as we know it and accelerated our transition to a digital world. Still, it’s difficult to get a true read of the trend lines in the midst of upheaval. Sometimes, that requires a look deeper into the past—say, 25 years back.
Twenty-five years ago, in August 1995, while working at a magazine called Traffic Management (TM), I was writing a monthly column, just as I am today. And, just as we are today, the editorial team was planning for our yearly pilgrimage to the Annual Conference of the Council of Logistics Management (CLM), which would be held that year in San Diego.
For a business journalist, covering the CLM conference was a plum assignment, owing to the breadth and quality of its educational content. Over the course of three days, you could take in eight or 10 educational sessions and a keynote or two, which would provide story fodder for months to come.
The timing was propitious. We all knew in August 1995 that change was afoot. The team was already preparing for the rebranding of TM as Logistics Management in a nod to an evolving profession. It was also planning the launch of a new magazine called Supply Chain Management Review, which would be the first to use the term “supply chain” in its title.
In hindsight, though, the biggest change in August 1995 was something we all grossly underestimated. That summer, every senior staffer at the now-defunct Cahners Publishing Co. got a visit from the IT staff. A little icon was placed on the desktops of our Compaq (yes, Compaq) computers. It was a small, low-res image of a globe. If you clicked on it, it would take you to this mysterious place called the World Wide Web. Out there, you could “surf” all sorts of content aided by search engines like Lycos and AltaVista.
We had no idea of the depth of the change that awaited us or how quickly it would come.
Now, 25 years later, I’m back at the keyboard, again writing a column and again planning for the upcoming CLM conference—except that it’s now called the Edge Conference and Supply Chain Exchange Exhibition and is organized by CLM’s successor, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP). A quick look back shows just how profoundly things have changed.
In 1995, this column would have been printed in a magazine and mailed to 50,000 readers. Today, it will still be printed and mailed, but it will also be posted to our website, featured in a weekly e-newsletter, promoted on an array of social media platforms, and even discussed in a podcast.
And in 1995, planning for a conference meant picking eight or 10 educational sessions to attend from a field of 200+. It also meant making plane and hotel reservations and a host of other travel arrangements.
Today, the planning is still taking place, but it is different—potentially in a very good way. And it all relates to that little globe icon placed on my desktop 25 years ago that served as a gateway to the web.
This year’s CSCMP Edge Conference and Supply Chain Exchange will take place entirely on that World Wide Web as a “virtual” event. Conference sessions, keynote addresses, and even the trade show “floor” will be live-streamed over a three-day period (Sept. 20–23) and then made available in archived form for the next 90 days.
That last point is important. It means attendees are no longer limited to eight or 10 conference sessions and a couple of passes through the exhibition hall. Now, they can fully explore all that the event has to offer over a period of months, deriving considerably more value from their registration fee than was ever possible before.
Online registration for CSCMP Edge 2020 is still available at cscmpedge.org. See you (virtually) there!