At the inaugural Synergy Summit: The Future of Analytics and Supply Chain event on the Minneapolis campus in early December, attendees learned from experts regarding trends shaping the supply chain industry. The event was hosted by the new Business Analytics and Supply Chain Center of Excellence (COE) at Opus College of Business.
Supply chain issues were top of mind for U.S. consumers a couple of years ago, when they encountered empty shelves and long delays in receiving products.
Even though conditions have improved, dysfunction in supply chains remains a relevant issue in American society. Kyle Goldschmidt, chair of the Operations and Supply Chain Management Department in Opus College, highlighted the importance of the Synergy Summit in this regard.
“This is an opportunity to bring alumni, industry professionals and students together to talk about emerging technologies, ways to address these challenges that companies are all facing today,” Goldschmidt said.
In the filled Thornton Auditorium, participants engaged and asked important questions to the leading industry speakers brought in to enlighten challenges and possibilities for supply chains.
Speakers at the Synergy Summit focused on key topics that are shaping the industry today, including: strategic artificial intelligence, negotiation strategies in sourcing, aligning data in supply chains, and the intersection of business analytics and supply chains.
Given that AI is a frequent topic in the headlines today, it comes as no surprise that the audience was riveted by keynote speaker and St. Thomas alumnus David Berglund ’14 MBA, who provided thoughts and perspectives on strategic artificial intelligence. Berglund is a leading AI consultant, strategist and managing partner at Itasca Labs, where he’s focused on maximizing the value created through AI systems.
“Events like the Synergy Summit empower leaders to think big. In the world of AI and supply chains, the key is not just to anticipate the needs of your customers, but to be ahead of them, creating solutions for a future they haven’t imagined yet,” Berglund said. “It’s a mindset that pushes boundaries and redefines what’s possible. St. Thomas is preparing leaders to think big and bold.”
David Berglund '14 MBA
It’s a mindset that pushes boundaries and redefines what’s possible. St. Thomas is preparing leaders to think big and bold.”
AI has great potential in enabling products. It can help with predicting, considering outcomes, communicating and seeing possibilities. With an expression of awe and optimism, Berglund mentioned another attribute recently attained by AI: creation.
Just like these qualities can advance material products produced, they can also benefit structures and processes. What if AI could help our supply chains better cater to the needs and desires of households and businesses?
However, there are issues with implementation of this technology. How do you make sure your systems are secure, in control and in touch with long-term goals of your business? There are unintended consequences that need to be considered. Thanks to Opus College, students and alumni will be better situated to tackle those dilemmas.
“The discussions at St. Thomas' Synergy Summit remind us that in the race toward AI-driven supply chains, the prize goes to those who dare to disrupt and innovate relentlessly,” Berglund said.
Other speakers at the Synergy Summit included: Danielle Hansen ’04, ’09 MBA, Opus College adjunct faculty member; Bob Grogan, founder and principal consultant of Phronetic Advisors; and Ralph Asher, MS, Opus College adjunct faculty member.
The day ended with a supply chain competition, where students had the opportunity to do just that: challenge themselves to solve real-life cases that demonstrate problems with supply chains. Six teams from different universities competed, including two teams from the University of St. Thomas.
John Olson, the associate dean of academic programs and innovation for the Opus College of Business, described the competition: “They are assigned a mentor, work all day on a case here, then present to judges who give feedback,” he said. “It creates a great opportunity for them to become immediately connected with the company who provided the case.”
The Synergy Summit created real-world experience for students, helping them become the creative problem-solvers needed to meet tomorrow’s challenges.