Logistics in the Blogosphere
Say what you will about blogging—that it democratizes information dissemination, or, adversely, that it is killing well-edited, fact-checked journalism—logistics professionals have embraced it.
Because of their low-tech, easy-to-use nature, blogs have exploded not only as forums to discuss celebrity and political goings-on, but as a resource tool for finding solutions to real business challenges.
While blogging about inventory turns and LTL shipping rates might not be a sanctioned workday activity at all companies, many logisticians use these web destinations as a way to share solutions and experiences, and spark interesting conversation about a variety of supply chain concerns.
The downside is that you can easily spend hours clicking through blogs and posting comments instead of, say, optimizing your inventory or developing a new vendor management program. The upside? You might learn something you can use to make your job easier.
Hundreds of logistics blogs are now in operation; some are quite informative, while others offer little more than a cluster of links to other web sites.
Here is an informal roundup of some logistics blogs that are worth checking out:
@Supply Chain Management
Blogger: Chris Abraham, supply chain management consultant.
Audience: General logistics and supply chain professionals.
Content: The newly redesigned blog provides Abraham's insightful take on news articles, trade publication features, and research reports pertaining to SCM and logistics. It also includes a comprehensive list of recommended logistics blogs and a fun map showing the location of site visitors throughout the world. (Kudos to Abraham for drawing visitors from as far away as Africa and New Zealand.) The blog is updated regularly and provides a moderate amount of user commentary.
Bloggers: "Swizstick" and "Splatty," who claim 20 years of third-party logistics experience between them.
Audience: Logistics professionals seeking a resource for trends, news, and information related to third-party logistics providers.
Content: Divided into a variety of detailed sections—including air freight, contract logistics, warehousing, and "odd news"—the site provides commentary on industry happenings, new product and service releases, and best practices for selecting a 3PL. The site also features a weekly poll (which appears to be more sporadic than weekly), a bookstore, and guest bloggers.
Blogger: Michael Stolarczyk, senior director, business development, for global 3PL Exel.
Audience: SCM professionals interested in third-party logistics and transportation.
Content: Although Exel does find its way into some articles and Stolarczyk drops a few snarky comments about his competitors, the blog is more than a promotional vehicle for Exel. Stolarczyk clearly knows his stuff, offering insightful commentary about key logistics trends and issues. While it falls a bit short of its dramatic tag line—"insight, foresight for the dawning conceptual age in the global logistics, transportation, and supply chain markets"—the blog is a useful tool that generates a healthy amount of user interaction.
China Logistics News
Bloggers: Writers for The China Economic Review.
Audience: Anyone interested in China's burgeoning logistics prowess.
Content: China Logistics News tracks all things China, offering information on transportation infrastructure developments, news on the Chinese economy, and updates on services available for companies importing and/or exporting from China. The site is light on user interaction, however; only a few articles inspire commentary.
Blogger: Lean manufacturing consultant Mark Graban.
Audience: Devotees of lean manufacturing and supply chain philosophies.
Content: In addition to Graban's interesting posts—which run the gamut from dispelling Dell's lean myth to analyzing Boeing's "elegantly screwed-up supply chain"—the blog includes book reviews, podcasts, and a collection of user-contributed lean quotes, such as "If lean is common sense, it would be more common." Eight other manufacturing professionals write frequently for the site, which is updated regularly and has an active user community.
Blogger: Not identified on site.
Audience: Logistics professionals seeking information on how to outsource logistics capabilities.
Content: Logistics List, which debuted in September 2005, bills itself as a "comprehensive third-party logistics directory for supply chain and logistics decision-makers." In addition to 3PL-focused articles from a variety of logistics sources, the blog includes regional provider directories, a job board, and links to logistics associations and 3PL companies. The site is updated regularly, but does not include user feedback or discussion boards.
Blogger: Rick Ankrum, who has worked in procurement, supply chain management, and strategic sourcing since 1978.
Audience: General supply chain and logistics professionals, as well as procurement specialists.
Content: This blog provides a compilation of news, resources, and commentary about supply chain management and strategic sourcing, gleaned from a wide variety of web-based sources. The blog's clean, uncluttered design makes for a user-friendly experience, but the site does not have an active visitor base. It also includes links to other procurement blogs and news pages.
Blogger: Ehsan Ehsani, a technology author and SCM expert, who also contributes to several other blogs.
Audience: Tech-savvy logistics and transportation professionals.Content: Supplychainer covers a wide range of logistics topics, with an emphasis on logistics technology news. Ehsani's point-of-view entries are particularly interesting, with recent postings covering the financial supply chain, the year's top supply chain technologies, and Wal-Mart's "RFID disruption dilemma." While the blog provides interesting user commentary and useful links to logistics information sites, it also includes a distracting number of irrelevant links.
Who Said Supply Chains Are Boring?
Blogger: Chris Sciaccia, media relations manager, integrated supply chain and logistics, for IBM.
Audience: Logisticians looking for a dose of humor with their information.
Content: This well-written blog is Sciaccia's personal crusade to convince the world that supply chains are not boring, while providing useful industry insights along the way. The blog scopes out unusual ideas—finding logistics tie-ins in video games and hit movies, for instance—while keeping users informed of industry developments, research, and trends. Some of Sciaccia's postings highlight IBM products or services, but he is candid about it, offering disclaimers where necessary. The site also includes book reviews, and a fun "supply chain rumor mill" news feed.
What logistics blogs do you log on to every day? Have thoughts or comments about the ones mentioned here? E-mail email@example.com; we'll follow up in a future issue.