APICS is the premier professional association for supply chain management.

Real-World Optimism for Innovation

by APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE | N/A 2012 | 0 | 0
APICS Operations Management NowAmid all the discussions in the media about Facebook going public, Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth (more than $18 billion), and his business attire (a dark hoodie), I was very interested to see an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal about American innovation in the real world, not the cyber one. 

According to Rich Karlgaard, the publisher of Forbes, social media’s big money-making days are past. If the United States wants to remain a powerhouse, it needs to improve transportation, energy, manufacturing, and more.

“Facebook’s big payday should be cause for celebration in a liberal democracy. Instead it has provoked two kinds of anxiety. Both imply America’s best days are over,” he writes. 

First, Karlgaard suggests that Silicon Valley is in a bubble that again will burst. Experts predict new social media companies will lose money. Plus, the only companies that stand to really make a profit are those that make algorithms__the calculations and codes that make iPhones and Facebook work.

Karlgaard has some good news to share. “Manufacturing? America will own the mid-21st century. Geopolitical instability and rising oil prices will wreck the late 20th-century rationale for outsourcing. Chinese labor costs are rising 20 percent while robotic costs are dropping by 30 percent a year. Do the math.”

He also points to 3D printing, calling it a “showstopper,” suggesting that the technology enables artists to become artisanal manufacturers. (See last week’sAPICS Operations Management Now.) Further, Karlgaard predicts US natural gas and shale oil will provide energy until alternative fuels become prevalent. 

Encouraging supply chain and operations management innovation

We all want to make technology work for us in new and different ways. What Karlgaard suggests, however, is that innovation needs to happen in traditional activities, including manufacturing.

Consider some of the drivers of supply chain performance that are outlined in theAPICS Operations Management Body of Knowledge Framework: facilities, inventory, transportation, information, sourcing, and pricing. Social media might have the potential to influence these factors, but it’s going to take real-world innovation to revolutionize them and maximize supply chain efficiencies.

We know social media is a great way to interact and share information. I encourage you to check out the new and improved APICS website, like us on Facebook, or join our Linkedin group. Perhaps these tools can enable true collaborative innovation.

Idea exchange

Now, you can take the APICS Operations Management Now discussion to your social networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the APICS Supply Chain Channel. Be sure to use the hashtag #OMNow and include @Tweet_APICS in any tweets to have your words featured on the APICS homepage.

  • Is it true that the social media era has peaked? What forces are behind this?
  • What are the current trends in supply chain innovation? Where is there the most room for growth?
  • What do entrepreneurs, companies, and governments need to do today to ensure sustainable, long-lasting productivity in the future?
In other news

Related APICS education

  • Make the Most of Your Cash
    By Gregory L. Schlegel, CPIM, and Peter Merke, CFPIM, CIRM, CSCP
    September/October 2011, APICS magazine

Not an APICS memberJoin today.

All comments will be published pending approval. Read the APICS Comment Policy.


  1. RadEditor - HTML WYSIWYG Editor. MS Word-like content editing experience thanks to a rich set of formatting tools, dropdowns, dialogs, system modules and built-in spell-check.
    RadEditor's components - toolbar, content area, modes and modules
    Toolbar's wrapper 
    Content area wrapper
    RadEditor's bottom area: Design, Html and Preview modes, Statistics module and resize handle.
    It contains RadEditor's Modes/views (HTML, Design and Preview), Statistics and Resizer
    Editor Mode buttonsStatistics moduleEditor resizer
    RadEditor's Modules - special tools used to provide extra information such as Tag Inspector, Real Time HTML Viewer, Tag Properties and other.