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During the pre-conference meetings for the recently concluded Logistics Services Philippines Conference I realized what some would call a “bug”, but what I’d call a “feature”, of the whole supply chain sector in the country: there is no one voice.

 

It can be frustrating, but it is necessary. It reflects just how vast supply chain actually is. If you’re going to cover everything you’ll have to engage with virtually every industry association out there, and even then you’ll get slightly different answers as each industry have their own unique concerns. Even those within the logistics sector can have different approaches depending on who you ask: shipping lines, airlines, customs brokers, port operators, truckers, logistics services providers – each have different concerns.

 

Despite these differences, there are issues common across many, if not every, stakeholder across the supply chains. That underscores just how important coming together is: imagine having many voices, in unison, demonstrating just how critical addressing these issues is to every player. Take our perennial concerns with infrastructure, or the newly-emerging (in a sense) concerns about hiring and developing capable people. It affects everyone now, and it will affect everyone in the future.

 

That said, I think SCMAP has a pretty unique position in the ecosystem of Philippine supply chain. As we represent many players across the supply chain – manufacturers, retailers, distributors, logistics providers, and other allied institutions – we are able to see the bigger picture. We are able to connect the dots together and see how one thing can affect everything else. I do not mean to suggest we know all these things from our vantage point: in fact, we would not be able to do this if not for the help of our members, as well as other associations and institutions who have helped us understand the issues from their perspective.

 

When we adopted our current battle cry – “Connect. Engage. Move.” – two years ago, the thinking was simple: we connect with key players in the supply chain, we engage them, and together we move Philippine supply chain towards world class. In the past year, I believe we have taken these ethos to heart. Our events – from our flagship SCMAP Supply Chain Conference to our regular General Membership Meetings – sought to truly understand the issues affecting the sector, by inviting key players across industries, and hearing from them how they approach the opportunities and challenges they face. Personally, our events is very much also a learning experience from me, helping me better grasp the rise of the last mile, for instance, or the challenges in capacity-building faced by everyone in supply chain.

 

This also underscores one of the values we at SCMAP have espoused in recent years: collaboration. It is, after all, what supply chain is in a nutshell, as it evolved from logistics (which itself stemmed from materials management and physical distribution). In supply chain all players must coordinate and collaborate with the common goal of keeping costs optimal while ensuring the quality of products and services are high. In addressing issues that impact our ability to achieve this goal, collaboration is also key. Long gone are the days when industry players have to be antagonistic towards each other. Sure, there is still a long way to go, but what we’ve seen and done this year – closer interaction with key players in the public and private sectors, as we seek to push the needle in improving operational efficiencies, increase competitiveness and promote the supply chain sector to its future leaders – is encouraging.

 

And this is what we at SCMAP will continue to do in 2019: connect with more players across the supply chain, engage them in meaningful conversations on the issues that matter, and together move not just the supply chain sector, but all of the Philippine economy, towards global competitiveness. Considering how small the world is these days, this has never been more important.

 

We look forward to seeing you in our events in the coming year, more information on which can be found at scmap.org. Perhaps you can be a member too, wherever you may be in the country? For now, on behalf of SCMAP, I wish you a meaningful Christmas and a prosperous new year.

 

Henrik Batallones is the marketing and communications executive of SCMAP. A former board director, he is also editor-in-chief of the organization’s official publication, Supply Chain Philippines. More information about SCMAP is available at scmap.org.

 

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