Organisations need to consider how accelerated levels of investment for technology and new capabilities to rapidly improve supply chain performance will impact their workforce.

As today’s supply chains transform towards a more digitally-enabled format with factories and warehouses becoming populated by robots, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence; sensors controlling everything from maintenance through to physical security; and cognitive algorithms used to carry out supply chain and demand planning - the actual people in the workforce can be the forgotten element.

Businesses are spending significant amounts of time identifying and understanding how to best apply these new technologically driven capabilities, how to best implement and embed these new capabilities within existing operations and assessing the operational impact of them that it is the people, the one critical element within the supply chain, that are repeatedly overlooked during this process.

Investing in the future

Some organisations are yet to invest in robotics, AI, IoT devices or warehouse automation capabilities but just because there is late (or no) adoption, the workforce shouldn’t be left unprepared. Many customers, suppliers and trading partners have already embraced these new capabilities so to maintain high-quality interactions with trading partners, the workforce still needs to be ready and up skilled to prepare for the new ways of working.

Organisations that invest in future capabilities are expecting to realise benefits by accessing an exponential increase in the volume of available data. Big data availability is already putting pressure on market-leading organisations to recruit specialist analysts capable of turning that data into insights. Equally, there is pressure to identify future talent who can specialise in the use of AI, blockchain, robotics, warehouse automation and cyber tools.

Demand for digital talent

The pace and diversity of digitisation and capability investment throughout the supply chain has already made some roles obsolete and increased demand for supply chain professionals with digital and analytical skills. New roles are expected to be created at the cross roads between technology and supply chain expertise, including scenario analysts, customer journey architects and robotics engineers. These roles will require the future workforce to speak the language of the business while also engaging with sophisticated technology solutions.

It’s no surprise that with every other part of the business going digital as well that the competition for the best talent is intense. To add to the challenges, technology is evolving faster than traditional forms of education and training, therefore the number of those in the workforce possessing digital skills remains relatively small.

Successful organisations aren’t just trying to solve the problem by hiring more digital talent. They’re developing strategies and programs that continuously enhance their workforces’ capability to adapt in an ever-changing landscape – a modern digital working environment where employees are less burdened with repetitive tasks. These businesses are focused on rapid workforce reskilling and hiring as a critical success factor.

To keep pace with the speed at which supply chain models and technologies are evolving, organisations must identify the specific capabilities they need right now and in the future and focus their energies on establishing effective, sustainable talent pipelines. This combined with an understanding of the latest in supply chain technology will help to ensure their supply chain and business are future ready.

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Supply chain: the big picture

As the business function that ultimately delivers on the all important brand promise, become a true value lever and differentiator.

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