Intelligent response - Supply Management

Intelligent response

7 May 2013

David Noble, CIPS CEOKnowledge has always been a very valuable commodity and the competitive advantage that it gives, whether in times 
of conflict or in the creation of wealth, 
has been recognised since the very 
earliest civilisations.

There’s an apocryphal story that when the scribes in the ancient library in Alexandria asked to borrow the original works of Sophocles and Euripides to make copies for scholarly research, the Athenians demanded half a ton of gold as a guarantee of their safe return, so important were they to the well-being of the state.You could also say that the Alexandrian library was one of the world’s first 
knowledge hubs. Its mission statement 
was to house all the knowledge in the 
world and its location at the heart of trade routes between Europe, Asia and Africa meant that it was perfectly placed to 
capture, translate and disseminate the
leading thinking of the day.

Two thousand years on and knowledge is instantly available to everyone at the press of a button. It’s also grown exponentially as an industry, and the ‘white noise’ of information out there 
can be overwhelming. As I’ve said before, an important role 
for CIPS is to act as a filter and central reference point for procurement and supply knowledge, to harvest the most useful material and make it available through a single portal.

This is the aim of CIPS Intelligence, the online library we launched a year ago in partnership with Knowledge Brief. In that time we have seen visitor numbers to the 
site grow to over 6,000 each month and already around one in 12 CIPS members 
has accessed it. We want visitors to find the service easy to use and reliable, so we surveyed users about their experience and asked them what improvements they’d like to see.

As a result, we’ve made some changes, such as a login page that’s a lot easier to navigate, as well as an improved search function. We are also sending out a monthly newsletter focusing on a particular 
topic, such as change management 
or tendering, which brings practical and academic thinking together in 
a convenient format. CIPS Intelligence remains mostly 
free to members and it is a key benefit 
of membership of the institute, which I urge you to make good use of. Go to cipsintelligence.
cips.org to find 
out more information.

Bagging 
the 
benefits

England could soon be the only country in the UK where plastic carrier bags are free of charge at the till. Northern Ireland has just introduced a 
5p bag tax, with proceeds going to the Department of 
the Environment to fund environmental protection projects.

A similar tax introduced over a decade ago in the Irish republic has raised around £180 million to date. Wales introduced a charge in 2011 and the Scots are considering it, but there are no plans for England. Part of the reason may be that the retail sector isn’t convinced about the benefits.

And the British Retail Consortium, while agreeing a tax would reduce the number of bags bought at checkouts, says this is a drop in the ocean compared with reducing excessive packaging throughout the supply chain. Consumer groups argue that the cost of environmental protection in the retail sector should be absorbed by the stores and not passed on to the customer. Perhaps we should also ask whether charging for bags would affect the amount of plastic going to landfill – how many of us now buy rolls of plastic bags for domestic waste where once we would have re-used supermarket carriers?

☛ If you have any comments or wish to raise a topic, please get in touch at ceoblog@cips.org

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