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President's Viewpoint

Logistics Dot Com: E-Day

by Victor S. Deyglio

E-Day: Two years to plan; twelve months to design; eight months to build; one day to launch (Annual General Meeting, April 28); thirty minutes to go live (September 15). In cosmic terms, the moment is minor; in real terms, it is a cosmic leap into the deep end of cyberspace. The Magellans, the Voyagers, the Intrepids of fact and fiction loom large in the imagination. But the vision has its own reality.

Noon EDT: 09/15/00. We’re ready, Houston. Counting down…3, 2, 1, Go! We’re live!

Instantaneously, The Logistics Gateway goes live. The Logistics Institute is on-line. And professional members receive the first series of electronic communications via the Gateway, which is now their new professional home base.

Faced with the neologisms of cyber-language (usernames, passwords, URL), members enter the e-world of Logistics Dot Com, and their sense of adventure is minimally challenged. There they discover ProLog Connect and test their ability to build a personal portfolio to manage their own professional careers. There they receive a request to renew their support for the Logistics Institute so that we can continue this journey together.

Anticipated response is met by stunned silence. The silence is eerie. ET, call home.

Cyberspace, like cosmic space, is alive with anticipation, but silent to our senses. It excites us with dreams of unlimited possibility, but it is cold. Venturing out does not entail a push back: Who’s out there? Is anyone listening? Does anyone care? We wait, filled with anxiety, giddy with excitement.

16:48 EDT: 09/15/00. Mike Trigardi, P.Log., Materials Management Business Unit, BC Hydro in Surrey, BC, is the first to renew his professional membership via the new Internetsecure platform. Houston, we’ve made contact. There’s life in cyberspace.

Loyalty begets an immediate response. We telephone Mike to thank him personally; we leave a message on his voice mail; he’s at lunch. We send him a specially designed Logistics Institute pen via courier, to express our gratitude in a more tangible way. High tech does not eliminate high touch. P2P [people to people] is not replaced by B2B or B2C. To forget that is the kiss of death, especially for a profession.

10:00 EDT: 09/18/00. Mimosas at the office. To celebrate victory or to numb defeat? The silence is deafening.

Is this the silence of the Mars Polar Lander? Or is this just Hubble with astigmatism? A quick telephone survey of selected members reveals the silence came from us: nearly 90 percent had not received any telecommunications from the Logistics Institute on September 15. The Logistics Gateway was live, but only 50 members knew about it and, of course, the whole universe. How embarrassing.

The Gateway service provider simultaneously discovers that the system had not erred or aborted, but clearly indicated “mission complete.” But completion was at 50, not 550 professional members with e-mail addresses on record (225 were contacted by mail). Having read that its work was done, the system booked the weekend off, satisfied in a “job well done.”

Technology is dumb. It does not think. It cannot decide. It has no responsibility. Yet, technology is ruthless, even smug in its self-satisfaction. It breaks our lives down into milimoments, and our every action into microsections. The most elemental things must be deconstructed into the minutest possibilities. There’s no room for chance; there are no gray areas. It either is or it isn’t. How simple; how complex; how fascinating; and how unnerving, all at the same time. The yin-yang of instant success and instant limitation.

16:30 EDT: 09/18/00. We’re ready again, Houston. Forget the countdown, just go live, dammit.

Success, belated, but real, and this time closely monitored. On September 19, at 07:49 EDT, we receive a facsimile from Major John Page, P.Log., of Edmonton, on duty at the Headquarters Task Force Bosnia-Herzegovina, renewing his membership by VISA. He had received his e-mail the evening before.

To be able to span such distances with such speed is awesome. It is frightening, and not a little humbling, to encounter, nay to create, such spontaneity. How different this is from past experiences: there are no horizons, there are no delays, there are no directions. There is only your own limited ability to keep up with the momentum.

Momentum can kill. That’s why they have turnoffs on mountain roads in B.C. But momentum can also transport you to the next echelon of possibility, and that is exhilarating. From September 15 to 25, The Logistics Gateway had over 73,000 hits, in excess of 16,000 on Tuesday, September 19, alone. The airwaves are electric with excitement. As the dust settles, we begin the steady drive along the information highway. There’s no turning back, but there are way-stations in transit.

E-community: Going on line, the Logistics Institute is not content with being just another dot com enterprise; that fails to challenge the usual expectations of ordinary thinking. There is nothing “usual” or “ordinary” about the Logistics Institute: we do not “think outside the box”; we redesign the box, and even re-invent the concept “box.”

Logistics dot com for us means dot community.

The Logistics professional community has grown from the first 52 P.Log.s in 1995 to an anticipated 900 by Christmas 2000. Our focus now shifts from delivering the process to earn the designation to growing the professional community as such. At the heart of dot community is the burning question: What is the value of the P.Log. designation now that you’ve earned it?

Professional status, as symbolized by the P.Log., is a value in itself: for some, it is the achievement of a lifetime of service to a career. For others, it is the entry point.

But those who choose a profession have responsibilities, as well as rights. Among those responsibilities is the commitment to, and active participation in, the professional community, as well as maintaining and managing personal professional careers.

ProLog Connect is the dot community service that enables P.Log. professionals to live up to their responsibilities.

The populations inside ProLog Connect form the nucleus of the Logistics Community Network in The Logistics Gateway.

As de facto members of the virtual chamber of commerce, they will meet on-line to discuss issues, exchange ideas, conduct business, hold regional meetings and participate in the governance of the Logistics Institute.

Through on-line survey systems, they will contribute to labor market information, develop insight into logistics business trends, and have exclusive access to global logistics studies.

Indeed, through ProLog Connect the dot community will become the true voice of logistics in Canada, and eventually worldwide.

On Sept. 15, current professional members first gained access to ProLog Connect. By building and maintaining on-line portfolios in ProLog Connect, they become the pioneers of the Logistics dot community. The on-line portfolio is the key to enter the dot community. By Christmas, access will be opened to other practitioners and new entrants who become associate and student members in the Logistics Institute.

With ProLog Connect, the on-line portfolio provides an opportunity to build a dynamic record of skills, capabilities, responsibilities and credentials, as well as current and previous employment.

As an on-line service, it can be updated, revised and customized as desired. It forms the basis for communicating career options, developing training plans, enhancing performance attributes and provides an option for job search if and when needed.

ProLog Connect energizes the critical success factor: who’s driving the bus? The reality is, the road is a continuous learning curve. Beware of the bumps, but enjoy the ride. It’s exhilarating.