To understand just how profoundly technology is disrupting and transforming the supply chain, consider Amazon. Started in 1994 as an online bookseller operating out of the garage of the Seattle home of founder Jeff Bezos, Amazon last year became only the second company in the United States valued at more than one trillion dollars. (At the time, Apple was the other. Microsoft has since taken Apple’s place in the elite club.)

Over the decade following its launch, Amazon cornered the bookselling market, and expanded into music and videos, launched a third-party online marketplace, and started selling clothing. Other items, from electronics and kitchenware to toys, followed. The company also launched Amazon Web Services, which now dominates the extremely lucrative cloud hosting market.

Amazon kicked off its second decade by starting Amazon Prime, a membership loyalty program that promised free two-day shipping at a time when the norm was anywhere from one to three weeks. In the years since, the company has brought us the Kindle and Echo, acquired Audible, the largest audiobooks company, and online shoe retailer Zappos, as well as Kiva Systems to develop robots to revolutionize the company’s warehouses. Today, you can buy almost any product online and have it delivered to your doorstep in two days.

More recently, Amazon has begun bringing its logistics and transportation in house, with its own branded fleet of trucks and airplanes.

From retail to cloud-based services to logistics and transportation, Amazon is reshaping the economy as it continues to innovate and conquer. No longer content with making two-day delivery commonplace, the company is now moving toward the Holy Grail of one-day delivery—something considered virtually impossible just a few years ago. 

At our upcoming Fall Forum, Ed Feitzinger, vice president of Amazon Global Logistics, will discuss Amazon’s efforts to reinvent the supply chain to deliver more than 10 million products to its global customers in one day or less. It’s just one of many fascinating and timely topics on the agenda.

The Road Ahead: Technology, Techniques and Tactics

Amazon may be the 800-pound gorilla, but there are many companies, large and small, that are developing and using new technology in ways that impact the supply chain, affecting our companies and ultimately all of us in our daily lives.

Change is occurring so rapidly and so completely that it is challenging, to say the least, for companies to know how to respond. What are the new techniques and tactics they will need to adopt to succeed in the changing global environment?

That’s the focus of The Center for Supply Chain Research at Lehigh’s 2019 Fall Forum, coming up on campus on Nov. 7-8. There is still time to register.

The forum, which we’re calling The Road Ahead: Technology, Techniques and Tactics, features presentations from leading experts on a range of topics that are crucial to supply chain success in the coming years.

Feitzinger from Amazon will highlight the company’s general approach to optimizing inventory placement, customer ordering, and delivery expectations into a supply chain that delights customers.

Other presentations will cover such timely topics as predictive analytics and machine learning applications, Strategic SCM Trends, and reshoring—bringing manufacturing companies back to the U.S., along with several others. See the full agenda.

The forum includes interactive workshops, where participants have opportunities to share information and experiences and learn from each other, as well as ample opportunities for networking.

Understanding the latest trends and strategies is essential to a thriving supply chain. Our Fall Forum provides a rare chance to bring together leaders in the field with deep knowledge and experience in how new technology impacts the supply chain combined with networking with industry participants, students, and faculty.

And I’ll make you this promise: In one day, we will deliver insights, techniques, and tactics that will help your supply chain thrive.

Zach G. Zacharia

Zach G. Zacharia

Zach G. Zacharia, Ph.D, is an associate professor in the Department of Decision and Technology Analytics (DATA) and director of the Center for Supply Chain Research at Lehigh.