This is a guest blog post by Jeff Ashcroft of SupplyChainNetwork.com
In roughly 50 days from now we'll all be gathering in Phoenix once again for this year's RILA Retail Supply Chain Conference 2018 and exposition. The theme of this year's event is 'Re-Imagining the Retail Supply Chain: Accelerating What's Possible' and the word cloud below was created based on the agenda for the event highlighting Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Automation and Robotics.
Blockchain is becoming the most topical of these technologies and for those just getting their feet wet, here's my primer piece to help get you started: Videos & Visions: of Logistics and Blockchains. For more Blockchain info and to join the conversation you may also wish to join almost 4,400 professionals in the Blockchain – Supply Chain Network – Commerce Group to learn more.
RILA Retail Supply Chain is my favorite retail logistics event of the year, and represents the best opportunity to hear from, meet and discuss emerging technologies with true retail practitioners and experts to help further plan and develop your own integration of technologies into your retail logistics strategy.
Wholeheartedly expect that this year's event will be no different, but in my mind there is one thing that has changed. In the past we've tended to evaluate each new technology on its' own merit as they emerged and then best determined how to implement them.
By the very ubiquitous nature of the technologies now emerging, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and of course the Blockchain it appears that a more holistic or converged approach is required in order for supply chain professionals to be successful.
With this in mind one of the sessions I'm most looking forward to is:
Convergence of Cognitive, IOT and Blockchain, presented by Steve Laughlin, Vice President & General Manager, Global Consumer Industry, IBM on Tuesday Feb 27th from 2:45 to 3:30 pm which looks like one session not to be missed!
Suffice it to say, looking at and understanding each of these technologies individually can be challenging enough, but defining the best methods of implementing them all synergistically is likely the most monumental task ever to face retail logistics and supply chain professionals.
The stakes couldn't be higher and my personal point of view is that those who aren't able to make this leap and fully digitize their supply chains utilizing these powerful technologies in unison will face a very uncertain future.
At the top right of the image above you'll also notice the picture of the REI Distribution Center just outside Phoenix which is one of the optional DC tours being offered this year. For those of you trying to green your DC operations this is one of the best available examples as it is a Net-Zero facility and is one of the first LEED Platinum distribution facilities that I'm aware of so another opportunity at RILA Retail Supply Chain not to be missed!
Here's the description of the facility if you need more convincing: "REI's latest distribution center is a cutting-edge facility located in the desert outskirts of Phoenix. In addition to innovative material handling equipment, the building features a 280,000 square foot solar array on its roof, which harnesses the desert sun to provide 2.2 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the net-zero facility. In addition to energy efficiency, the building has innovative management of resources including water, like a non-evaporative HVAC system that keeps the building pleasant even in the desert heat. But the real showpiece is the operations — industry-leading performance that has been meeting and exceeding goals."
Look forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new ones at RILA Retail Supply Chain Conference 2018 and in the interim feel free to reach out to me through Twitter @JeffAshcroft or Jeff Ashcroft on LinkedIn to share any ideas or thoughts on how you're planning to re-imagine your retail supply chain.
Jeff Ashcroft is founder and principal facilitator at SupplyChainNetwork.com