People-centric digital supply chains for the win

As tech innovation continues to make life easier, the debate about the inescapable future of AI continues, putting into question the role and importance of people. Many believe that as tech develops, it will be the answer to all the problems. While the efficiency and consistency brought by technology into a business are unquestionable, we see if that is enough. We explore the importance of people in the supply chain and logistics ecosystem and take the word from the experts that people-centric digital innovation is the need for modern supply chain.

The past few years have highlighted the importance of adopting technology in our dayto-day lives. When everything was on hold, technology helped keep things moving. Companies who were hesitant in investing in modern tech, adopted it in their ways of working to stay relevant. It is clear that technology isn’t going anywhere. Rather with future innovations, it is only going to get bigger, especially as businesses look to futureproof supply chains globally.

With tech innovation, supply chain operations are helping save precious time, boost productivity, and make operations smooth and more efficient. “Digitization in supply chain management empowers planning, sourcing, and logistics teams to collaborate, automate and effectively leverage analytics. It has also proven to drive growth, mitigate risk, improve forecasting, and allow for better inventory planning. Digitization of the overall supply chain management also helps in strengthening the company’s business model and in building relationships with key stakeholders, said Javed Ahmad, Sr. Vice President, Global Supply Chain, International Region, Schneider Electric.

While technology plays a crucial part in enhancing modern supply chain operations globally, there is no disputing that enhancing supply chains requires more than technology alone. The human touch remains an essential component in ensuring responsiveness, competency, flexibility, and the speed of successful supply chain management, especially in the current challenges that have prevailed in supply chain operations one after.

“We can have the best systems, best processes but finally, it boils down to people. While we do design systems and processes based on the requirements, a lot of times the affected stakeholders are not given priority. It is important to look at a digital supply chain as an amalgamation of players and then design it based on who and what is needed at that point. The trickier areas are the overlapping areas where there are conflicting goals. In the end, we are working towards a better planet, people, profit, and purpose,” Sandeep Chatterjee, Supply Chain and Sustainability Leader, IBM Consulting said.

Speaking his mind, Harshit Shrivastava, CEO and Co-founder, Intugine cites a great example of transporters/drivers during COVID highlighting the fact that technology is important but cannot replace the human touch. He says, “While we talk about digitization, COVID very well exposed the importance of people and how they are central to logistics and transportation.”

He adds that the shortage of staff during the pandemic halted or delayed operations of many tech-enabled organizations, making companies acknowledge the work they do under challenging circumstances and their importance in the ecosystem. Agreeing to the aforesaid, Mr Ahmad goes on to explain the importance of people in the logistics ecosystem and the need to create an ecosystem for them that can accelerate an agile digital supply chain.

Speaking about his organisation, Mr Ahmad says, “Schneider Electric believes in an agile workforce model that is centred around shaping mindset and behaviour. This transformation has been structured around three pillars being – learning, experiment and scale, thereby encouraging efforts towards a digital supply chain. By implementing measures that understand the metrics that employees work within, the desired rigor of achieving a future-proof digital supply chain easily comes into fruition.”

When digital approach works alongside people, rather than around or against them, one can achieve more impact. Such approach works by improving access to information, streamlining decision-making, and facilitating cross-functional collaboration and trust.

This is an abridged version of the original feature story that was published in the February 2023 issue of Logistics Insider magazine. To read the full article, click here.

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