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Jump Start 2019 supply chain conference attendees discuss global economy, supply chain technology

During the final two days of the SMC³ Jump Start 2019 supply chain conference, attendees heard from a duo of economic experts that presented a survey of the global economy and its impact on the logistics business as well as an array of transportation analysts and supply chain technology specialists. Some of the specialists on stage even acquired a greater understanding of LTL through the breakout sessions on Tuesday.

“I really enjoy being at this conference,” Steve Banker of ARC Advisory Group said at the end of his speech about the top supply chain disruptors likely to emerge in the next decade. “One of the things, as a supply chain guy, I pay a lot of attention to is really getting an understanding of granular costing. I was blown away by the costing complexity of less than truckload. I had no idea.”

While Banker enjoyed a look into the details of LTL costing, attendees were thankful for his detailed take on supply chain technology. As he started his talk, Banker explained that he forms his predictions about the logistics arena by “talking to smart people all the time and weight what they say.” Putting that axiom to the test during the Q&A session, he even answered some of the audience’s questions with questions of his own.

He also talked about the annual economic meeting in Davos, Switzerland, and how it’s important to witness how world leaders talk about their expected trend lines in order to create predictions of one’s own. But the word he didn’t hear uttered at Davos, Banker said, was “cybersecurity” – one of the key concepts involved in his own predictions.

After carefully putting a caveat on his predictions – some of them have been spot-on, he said, while other predictions haven’t been quite on the mark – he launched into a lay-of-the land discussion that ran the gamut from technology trends to social and demographic trends. E-commerce is one of the important facets of the supply chain that will simply balloon in the near future and has the potential to have a major impact on the supply chain.

“When e-commerce goes from 9 or 10 percent of total retail sales to 30 percent, what is that going to mean for delivering that last mile in urban environments?” he asked. “That’s going to get messy.”

Relentless competition – think Amazon – in the supply chain is impacting consumer expectations, he said. This is creating new retail flows and creating shifts in supply chains. Banker also explained how urbanization and population density is impacting transportation flows. He questioned how these population shifts might change transportation regulations. There are “all sorts of restrictions that we may need to be dealing with not too long in the future,” he said.

During his final appearance at an SMC³ conference, mainstay Dr. Don Ratajczak once again gave the audience an impassioned discussion of worldwide economics. As Tom Swinson, director of SMC³’s educational division, said during his introduction of Ratajczak, the engaging speaker is the highest-rated panelist year in and year out for a good reason.

After opening with a joke about Atlanta’s non-snow snow day, Ratajczak told the audience that last year, global trade grew faster than global economic activity for the first time in four years. He even pointed out that the world leaders that arrived in Davos last year were sunny on global economic prospects.

“This year, they’re not optimistic, and that’s a problem,” Ratajczak said. “And all of a sudden, the U.S. consumer has not become optimistic.”

Consumer confidence expectations were always down in recessionary territory during the Obama presidency, he said, but expectations rose after the tax cuts. “The last expectations have plunged again,” he said. “We’re now down to people thinking, ‘Yeah, things are still OK, but I don’t think they’re going to say that way.’”

Ratajczak explained that it’s not all doom and gloom, and there are some economic bright spots around the world, but consumer sentiment, at least in the U.S., is down.

“There is an air of, ‘Well, the best has happened,” he said.

In the end, one of the biggest events coming up in Atlanta — the impending Super Bowl — was only mentioned once from the mainstage during the Jump Start conference. Honors went to Bart De Muynck from Gartner who tied the frenzy of activity around the big event to logistics.

“All the hustle and bustle is starting for the Super Bowl,” he said, “and it’s probably going to be a busy week for Atlanta. It’s kind of like in transportation – you see the hotels filling up like warehouses, you see people and food being shipped all around just like in transportation. It’s going to be a little crazy. And it feels like 2018 has been like that the whole year for transportation.”

Day Two & Three Media Coverage:

The three-day Jump Start 2019 supply chain conference facilitates meaningful knowledge transfer and collaboration between logistics and transportation professionals from carrier, shipper, logistics service provider and technology verticals. To learn more about SMC³ supply chain conferences, visit

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Categories: Education, Supply Chain