Taking a few moments to reflect on the future of Supply Chain Management is crucial to the future success of your business. We understand this can be difficult in an industry that is continually adapting to change – however it really is important. Supply chains are rapidly evolving and increases in consumer expectations are not just driving change, they are demanding it.
What Does the Future of Supply Chain Look Like?
Looking at the current situation, it looks likely that the future of supply chains will depend on three key areas – Technology, Digitalisation and Automation. Supply chains that keep pace with changes in these areas are going to be the ones that are not only future-proof, but thrive throughout the impending changes. The ability of supply chain management to respond to the forces of technology, digitalisation and automation is going to depend on another key area – talent.
The Changing Face of Talent in Supply Chains
Supply chain management has typically been populated with experts who themselves haven’t grown up in the digital age. They’ve had to adapt, or be pushed out by their lack of knowledge. However, even those who have survived are nearing the end of their careers and we’re now looking at Generation X and the Millennials to take up the baton in supply chain management.
This brings some problems of its own, most notably the reputation of the industry, and its ability to attract and retain the best future talent from generations used to working at the forefront of technology, and being driven by their own goals, and hugely different career expectations than the supply chain managers of the past.
How to Ensure You Don’t End Up with a Talent Gap
Realising that this is happening is your first step. Next, you need to come up with a plan to identify, nurture and retain talent in a way that is different from your own experience. There are some notable ways to achieve this:
- Put Technology High on the Agenda: a relatively straightforward way to appeal to the next generation of supply chain management is to show the industry in its future light: utilising and profiting from technology. This generation aren’t paper-pushers, they are used to technology being utilised for every facet of life and business.
- With Knowledge Has Come a Conscience: the next generation of supply chain managers are governed by a different set of principles than solely profit and career progression. With exposure, and knowledge, Millennials don’t just want to work for pay. They want to believe they are contributing to social responsibility and working ethically. They also believe that big businesses are generally out of step with their aims (see the Deloitte report here). If you can demonstrate how your business reflects modern thinking towards social responsibility, then you will attract key talent.
- Provide Opportunity: A Millennial hasn’t grown up believing in a job for life. They won’t have inherent loyalty to you because you offered them their first graduate position. Instead, they will be anticipating a future career that involves multiple changes. If you identify talent early you cannot simply hold on to it waiting for ‘dead man’s shoes’. Instead, you must provide opportunity and room for potential to thrive and be rewarded, or risk losing your future supply chain managers to the competition.
The Future of Supply Chain Management
It is important to understand that the future of Supply Chain Management is not a case of letting individuals rise up through the ranks. A huge change in thinking will be the difference between success and failure in future-proofing supply chain management.