The Key Skillsets For A Digital Supply Chain Transformation


In Brief

“Organizations must continually retain and develop people with key skillsets of whom are ready to operate with capacities that are missing in key positions. For the present time such capacities are Big Data, the Internet of Things and technological tools that optimizes organization efficiency and have appropriate environment in place to approach those adaptive mindsets, both existing and new.”


Effective Digital Supply Chains (DSC) fundamentally centers around customer-centric perspectives. Thus, truly understanding what the customers need is vital to crafting a relevant system. To do so, a number of streamlined capacities must be in place to make it work, such as data capture from various sources, storage and processing of data and real-time on-demand simulations to put forth best procedures, along with circumspectful risk management in the same token.

The biggest hamstrings to a digital transformation, nevertheless, is the application of technology, or the introduction of new mechanisms while managing demands and risk that occurs through the transition process. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data goes way beyond simply connecting everything to the internet, collecting as much data as possible or running customer segmentation scripts to decide what marketing campaign to run on a case by case basis. Forget about automated data processing procedures, standardized data input has to be enforced across the board and inserted correctly to begin with. Otherwise, the more data collected the more mismatched outlooks and therefore openings for coding positions to tackle mountains of discombobulation with incognito etymology in a non-standardized manner. A wheel needs to be reinvented for every other campaign. Standard operating procedures for constructing a unified database across the organization needs to be in place from the very beginning to facilitate analytics and report generation in an automated approach, effectively. Without an interactive Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) reinforced effectively with insightful SOPs leadership to guide the right actions and hold key positions accountable, word has it that no organization will be able to achieve world class proficiency without resorting to a big stick that only things so far. On the flip side of Organizational Drag, or the absence of effective SOPs and guidance; the biggest handicap to transformation; on the other hand, is the lack of digital expertise in existing workforce. According to The Center for Global Enterprise (CGE), fundamental skillsets required to run a DSC is missing from the current workforce of 78% of organizations.

Now that the root of the matter has been identified, planning going forward should be a lot more feasible: get the right people with the right skills to enable a DSC. The key success factor to logistics optimization for the majority of companies today are skillsets. Proficiencies in data science and IT capacities that cradle Big Data analytics. Keith Miears, Dell’s global supply chain VP overlooking DSC initiatives declared “… we need people who understand the opportunities and risks our business faces and can figure out what data we need.” Such pioneers will need to have hindsight expertise about business opportunities and risks involved as well.

Organizations need to come up with a clear picture for the job description and KPIs involved to start scouting for these circumspecful pioneers. According to Forbes, the new categories of hire must include 3 skillsets:

  • Data scientists that knows how work Big Data in the context of the given business market.
  • Technicians that can maintain new customer service channels and subscriptions through digitized interfaces.
  • Blockchain, 3D printing and driverless vehicles/drones experts.

The latter key set, Blockchain in particular, is so new in the academic arena even computer engineering degrees find a shortage of teachers. Nonetheless, recruiting the right skillsets are just as important as approaching the people with them and the work they do, appropriately. The essentials of management in this case are:

1.Clarity of leadership and intent: why does the organization need a digital supply chain, what needs to take place to make it happen and when it is expected to happen. 
2.Accountability, or the responsibility of the supply chain team as well as all other parties and individuals involved in the supply chain digitization process. Everyone needs to understand exactly what they are expected to do, why their role is important and the results that are expected to transpire with their contribution as well as evaluation criteria and how progress is to be tracked.

Recognition for taking initiative and going the extra steps in one of the most crucial transformation periods the organization will ever undergo goes a long way to encourage the right behavior in effort, as do prizes and penalties and incentives for exceeding expectation progress.

To say the least, DSC sure looks like a paradigm shift that changes every aspect of the way the organization plays the game in the next five years and even more so beyond the five-year timeline. Leaders are always aware of coming change and the importance of the people involved in the transition process that make DSC a possible goal, one that transpires opportunity and growth far into the future.

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