July 31st will mark my last official day writing for All Things Supply Chain. This year has been full of exciting opportunities for me and has definitely been one heck of a learning curve. I have learned so much through all the research I have done for the blogs and wrap-ups, as well as the insightful knowledge I gained from attending the Supply Chain & Logistics event in Barcelona. I have been lucky enough to have networked with industry experts and spend my time reading many up-to-date articles, detailing the improvements and new additions to the supply chain industry.
After all the articles I have read and research I have done, I think it would only be appropriate to share my top three learnings from the past year as my final blog entry.
Talent, talent, talent
The first original blog I wrote for All Things Supply Chain was on the topic of supply chain education. This highlighted the need for people to become educated on the industry as a whole, confessing myself that I wasn’t entirely sure of everything the supply chain holds. It showed the need to educate the young, as they are the ones who will be leading the way due to the technological progressions we are making in today’s environment. Highlighted throughout the year has been the need for workers ready to deal with the digital age; with digitalization obviously being a hot topic in the industry and ultimately making way for new jobs we have not seen before.
There is still a need to increase the education we receive on the supply chain industry, whether that be in schools, universities or through the good old social media. We are now seeing a tremendous need for new talent and workers in the supply chain industry, which is in fact facing a shortage. Just last week, DHL released a report detailing its survey findings. These highlighted how much demand for supply chain professionals exceeds supply, an estimated ratio of 6:1, and that the task of finding workers already with the right skillset is proving difficult. This shows how educating people earlier on in their lives and the offering of more opportunities can help deal with this shortage. It could create a newfound focus for supply chain managers, increasing the amount of internships and apprenticeships. This will spur awareness of the industry and all it has to offer.
Customers are the influencers
Supply chain managers are increasing communications with consumers to optimize performance and improve offerings on such things as deliveries and in-store customer service. In a previous wrap-up, I wrote about Lowe’s integrating virtual reality into its in-store experience, after consumers shared their lack of confidence when it comes to embarking on their own DIY projects.
The influence consumers have has grown tremendously; workers are now looking to them for feedback and guidance in what to do next. This is because they are the end user, the people who receive the product/service, which has been worked on throughout the supply chain. They determine the success or failure of a product or service. The logistics sector will feel this pressure the most due to delivery. Consumer’s expectations for deliveries have changed drastically over the last 10 years due to the rise in e-commerce and the expansion of available outlets. At the event I attended in Barcelona, John Lewis released a shocking statistic: one week’s customer demand in 2009 was 3 hours of demand in 2016. This shows the rise of the consumer, as well as the true growth of e-commerce over the years. The consumer has truly influenced the way the supply chain works.
Focus on your whole supply chain
Many stories and statistics have been released over the past year highlighting the unlawful practices still ongoing in certain supply chains. Companies are now beginning to focus on their entire supply chains, tracking products, raw materials and addressing labor concerns to ensure the right steps are being taken. Many initiatives and alliances have been introduced and created over the year, as you may have read in some of my wrap-ups, tackling issues including environment, agriculture and the mistreatment of workers.
The need for transparency and sustainability is ever growing. Consumers are now expecting a certain type of behavior, becoming more influenced by how products have been made and the sources of raw materials. Tracking your supply chain from the very beginning to end will help to analyze weaknesses and create a clearer outline of sources and practices. Unearthing these malicious practices will help to align supply chain strategies and the overall presence created by a company. This should now be one of the focuses for supply chain managers: knowing the ins and outs of their supply chains. They can actually begin to explore creative ways to achieve supply chain transparency, something I wrote a blog about earlier this year. Knowledge and transparency seem to be the issues facing supply chain managers and workers. Vetting and understanding workings in different countries will help avoid repercussions down the line.
This year has been filled with learning opportunities for me, and it will be especially helpful when I continue my studies at University in September. I believe focusing on young talent is key to the success of supply chain operations over the next few years, increasing innovation, driving the progression of digitalization and keeping supply chains alive. Monitoring the entire supply chain is something supply chain managers should pay great attention to. Having control and knowledge of sources is a rising interest for consumers. It not only improves a company’s reputation, but can also contribute to more sustainable practices in the supply chain overall. Finally, looking to consumers for ideas and opinions is more important than ever before, due to their growing influence on success and ultimately, the future of the supply chain.
Thank you to all those who have read my wrap-ups and blogs throughout the year. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!
What trends stood out most to you over the past 12 months?
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