More than two and a half years of disruption and volatility stretched supply chains to breaking point. Traditional and historic processes proved to be insufficient, and cracks in the critical armour of supply chain resilience are showing. For many organisations, business continuity hangs in the balance.

According to MJ Schoemaker, president of SAPICS, The Professional Body for Supply Chain management, companies must do things differently to mitigate the risks and succeed in today’s challenging and constantly changing environment.  “We need forward thinking supply chains. It is crucial that organisations future proof their supply chains now, so that they are equipped to anticipate disruptions and find processes to manage them,” she stresses.

Recognising this imperative, SAPICS has announced that the 45th annual SAPICS Conference will be held under the theme “Forward Thinking Supply Chains”. The SAPICS Conference is Africa’s leading education, knowledge sharing and networking event for the supply chain profession.

The 2023 SAPICS Conference, which takes place from 11 to 14 June 2023 at Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town, will explore the leading topics that should be topping the agendas of organisations aiming to future proof their supply chains. “These topics include supply chain resilience, flexibility, agility and transparency; digital transformation; human resources, training and education; entrepreneurship and innovation,” Schoemaker explains. “We need to understand how all the strategies and techniques can be applied and developed in an environment where constant change is standard and disruptive events need to be managed.

“Regular planning, strong risk management processes and budgeting have become more critical than ever in a world where supply chain disruption is now the norm,” she notes. “The challenge for organisations is to manage cost versus customer satisfaction. Inflation is an additional factor of disruption which calls for cost optimisation to be a key priority.”

Resilient, optimised supply chains have the power not just to get goods from A to B, but to save lives, protect the environment and grow economies. “Economic challenges caused by the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and natural disasters have had a ripple effect on already constrained global supply chains. Governments around the world are striving to drive economic growth and job creation, and supply chain has a role to play,” Shoemaker states.

She contends that on the HR front, there has been a shift in leadership consciousness and new skills are needed. “The style of leadership that this new normal demands entails a move from thinking that ‘it’s about me’ to a mindset of ‘it’s about us’.”

“Transportation is currently a key discussion point in the supply chain sphere. However, leaders in that space have largely been ignored in the sales and operations cycle. This needs to change,” Schoemaker asserts.

While digital transformation is on the agenda of most organisations, many businesses are failing to achieve real value from their digital transformation initiatives. The reason for this, as well as issues around the circular supply chain and sustainability programmes and goals, will be examined at the SAPICS Conference, she reveals.

Shoemaker says that along with the drive to future proof supply chains, there are a handful of other important supply chain trends that should be on every organisation’s radar. “The top supply chain trends emerging from today’s disruptive world are micro-fulfilment for last mile optimisation; elevating supply chain executives to the C level; preparing for new risk events; integrating flexible contracts; increasing inventory reserves; investing in supply chain agility; improving supply chain forecasting; and investing in analytics. Businesses cannot afford to ignore these, and the annual SAPICS Conference is the place to insights on the latest trends, techniques and technology, supply chain strategies and best practices.

SAPICS has opened the “call for speakers” for the 2023 SAPICS Conference and invites dynamic professionals in the supply chain and operations field to share inspiring or educational experiences, enlightening expertise and insights, new technology and concepts, and case studies with the more than 500 delegates expected. “The SAPICS Conference is the ideal platform for supply chain professionals to make a valuable contribution to the annual update of our profession’s body of knowledge,” Schoemaker states. “By sharing your supply chain experiences and expertise, fellow professionals from around the globe will be able to benefit from your knowledge. Being a speaker at the annual SAPICS Conference is also a way to give back to the supply chain community and to grow professionally.”

For further information, speaker submissions or to register for SAPICS 2023, call 011 023 6701 or email or visit

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