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Snow, Again

While immersed in the logistics of product movement here at the FMI/GMA Supply Chain Conference, I am also grappling with my personal logistics -- i.e., how I am going to return to New York City tonight in the midst of the next gargantuan snow storm enveloping the Northeast.

My original Delta flight from Orlando, Fla., tonight would have put me in New York's LaGuardia Airport at 10 pm, but it was canceled yesterday. Delta offered an alternative with a stop in Atlanta that lands in LaGuardia at 8 pm, and I took it. You would think two hours wouldn't make much of a difference, and who knows, this new flight may also be cancelled, leaving me in Orlando probably till Thursday. I know of some other people at the conference who are already planning to stay until then, though the conference ends today.

At least my iPhone will keep me up to date on flight changes. Smartphones are really transforming logistics, both personal and business. Last year I wrote a story about how the Connecticut wholesaler Bozzuto's and some of its retailers are using smartphones to access a Web portal that provides all sorts of real-time delivery information.

The larger issue here is the long-term impact of all this bad weather on the movement of people and products in the 21st century. If weather patterns continue to be this freakish and unpredictable, people are just not going to travel as much to conferences. Maybe there will be more webinars instead. Retailers worry a lot about out-of-stocks, and disruptive weather will lead to more of those. The cumulative effect on the economy will be substantial. Perhaps that should be factored into the calculation of politicians dithering over climate change.