Lightning-fast future
Institute for Supply Management educates industry leaders.
By Shannon Lowry

From its humble start in 1915 when 24 purchasing agents met to share efficient buying methods and practices, the Institute for Supply Management® now serves 50,000 professional members by providing highly specialized education, training, certification, leadership development, market intelligence and research.

ISM members in more than 100 countries carry huge financial clout and fiscal responsibility; they manage $1 trillion in corporate supply-chain procurement annually.

Throughout its 103-year-history, ISM’s core mission has sought to advance the purchasing and supply management professions in a fair, neutral manner, while encouraging professionals to improve themselves through education and continuing development — and increase their respective companies’ competitive positioning as a result.

Based in Tempe, Arizona, ISM is the oldest and largest supply management institute in the world and “the first, in 1923, to develop ethical standards for the profession and standards of corporate social responsibility in the industry,” according to the Institute’s CEO Thomas Derry.

Thousands of supply management professionals have achieved the Institute’s Certified Professional in Supply Management® and Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity® designations. Since 2008, some 60,000 people in 30 countries have received specialized training through ISM.

Lightning-fast future
ISM also publishes its Report On Business® monthly. It is closely monitored by industry professionals and governments as a leading indicator of global economic conditions, reporting on such variables as new orders, production, employment and supplier deliveries.

“The ISM Report on Business is the closest thing to real time we have, as far as the level of productivity in the economy, which commodities are in short supply and going up in price, and who is experiencing long lead times in supplying products,” Derry explained. “For example, when companies slowed or stopped their production of electronic components, transistors and semiconductors, and everything in that sector was in short supply, you would see that [information] first in the monthly report. If you are a purchasing manager, you would then get those supplies in before they become hard to find and increase in price.”

Tony Faddell, co-inventor of the iPod and founder of Nest Labs, noted recently in “What Will Be the Next Big Thing to Come Out of Silicon Valley?” by Adam Fisher in the April 2018 Smithsonian magazine, “Change is going to be continual, and today is the slowest day society will ever move.”

In the lightning-fast future, Derry said more and more processes in manufacturing and other industries will be automated, and it will be increasingly important “not just to build widgets, but build quality widgets.”
He continued, “You need to be comfortable with data to anticipate situations and get out in front of them. There will be fewer jobs in manufacturing, but more skilled and higher-paid employees focusing on higher-value tasks will be needed.”

Derry said it will be important for industry leaders to “find sources of innovation to drive new markets and new customers — those are what will be focused on in the future.”

To prepare supply and purchasing managers for that ever-higher bar ahead, ISM will unveil the latest changes to its CPSM program at its ISM2018 annual conference in May. The changes create a “road map for career success, provide exam prep tools online and offer a very new, incredibly valuable tool for the profession,” he said.

The crystal ball also holds positive news for supply managers and procurement personnel. Back in 1970, Standard & Poor’s 500 index reported that 50 percent of all costs were spent outside the firm, he said. “Today, it is 80 percent,” Derry said. “Corporations are spending far more of their dollars with contractors. If it’s not a core competency, why would any company tackle that task every day when there are contractors who are experts in that area?”

For more information about ISM, visit