ASCM – more than a re-branding

APICS' new name reflects an association focused on the end-to-end supply chain

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ASCM – the association formerly known as APICS – has been on a bit of a roll the last couple of years. In 2014, the organization merged with the Supply Chain Council – the folks who brought you SCOR – and began reaching out to senior level supply chain managers. A year later, APICS merged with the American Society of Transportation and Logistics and added a new certification in logistics, transportation and distribution (CLTD) to its portfolio. In 2017, it partnered with Deloitte for its student case competition, standardizing an event that now has a global reach.

At the annual conference that just ended in Chicago this past Tuesday, October 2, APICS officially changed its name to the Association For Supply Chain Management (ASCM). You can read more about the name change here.

In making the announcement, Abe Eshkenazi, ASCM's CEO, said that this was more than a re-branding, but reflected an organization focused on “end-to-end supply chain management” and “a global operating environment.”

Building on the additional reach the organization got through mergers with Supply Chain Council and AST&L, Eshkenazi announced a number of new partnerships, including:

* The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to bring a focus on sustainable supply chains, especially those operating in emerging markets like Africa;

* The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS), including a new certification in procurement for North America;

* A new SCOR-E benchmarking service to benchmark organizations on ethics, economics and ecological factors;

* And Accenture Academy, Deloitte and PwC to provide more avenues for certification training and benchmarking services.

In a subsequent interview, Eshkenazi described the changes as “a great work in progress.” He told me the seeds for “a transformational business model change” were planted by the board in 2017, and added that it may take three to five years for it all to come to fruition.

The business model change he referred to is a recognition that for the past 60 years, APICS had served the individual, primarily through its conference, educational materials and certifications. Since the earlier mergers, particularly with Supply Chain Council and SCOR, APICS was increasingly interacting at the organizational level “but we didn't have the mind-share of the C-Suite,” Eshkenazi said.

The question was: How to do that? The answer was to expand the organization's reach from one end of the supply chain to the other (hence, bringing in CIPS and a procurement certification) and add services that serve the corporate customer, such as sustainable and emerging market supply chains and the new SCOR-E model. The last question was whether to do it in-house through more mergers, or reach out to partners. “We decided we have to provide content and services that are relevant to a new market, but we don't have to do it all in house,” Eshkenazi said. Hence, the relationships with Accenture Academy, Deloitte and PwC – organizations that own relationships with the C-Suite.

The name change happens now – next year's conference will be ASCM 2019, and not APICS. And, down the road, there could be a joint conference with another organization that would bring in the senior level executive who traditionally has not attended an APICS event.

It's an ambitious move, one that, anecdotally, garnered positive feedback from the long-time industry hands I had a chance to talk to at the event. The question will be – and it will be exciting to watch – is whether one of the four major industry associations can grow beyond its roots and become that true end-to-end supply chain management association.

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About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, MMH Executive Editor and SCMR contributor
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Bob Trebilcock is the editorial director for Modern Materials Handling and an editorial advisor to Supply Chain Management Review. He has covered materials handling, technology, logistics, and supply chain topics for nearly 40 years. He is a graduate of Bowling Green State University. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at 603-852-8976.

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