Digitalization of the supply chain: what impact on the skills required? Decrypts from training experts
Published on 25 May 2021
Robotization, digitization of processes, flows, customer experience... If the digitalization of the supply chain has made it possible to gain in efficiency, it has also revolutionized the professions and therefore the needs in skills. We asked 3 teachers of the most renowned supply chain management courses which profiles to favour and how to increase their skills. Review of the best practices.
In order to identify the new needs and challenges of the sector, we have gathered a panel of teachers from the most reputable supply chain training programs (at the top of the Eduniversal ranking). We thank them for their valuable analysis.
- Patrice Floret, consultant and teacher at the Sorbonne School of Management;
- Salomée Ruel, associate professor of information systems management and supply chain management at Kedge Business School
- Anicia Jaegler, director of the Operations Management and Information Systems department and professor at the ISLI at Kedge Business school, delivers their analysis
Faced with the digitalization of the supply chain, what are the most sought-after profiles?
Patrice Floret: "Ten years ago, companies were recruiting "technical" experts, specialists in warehouse management, transport management... Today, with digitalization, they need employees who also know the information systems that are transversal to the Supply Chain."
Salomée Ruel: “Yes, so much so that their first reflex is often to look for the "miracle" employee. The one who would master all the IT solutions, able to solve their difficulties linked to digitalization. Indeed, in many companies, it is still in its beginning stages. When they realize that this five-legged sheep does not exist, they turn to profiles that are more in line with the market: well-trained young people who understand the challenges of the supply chain and know how to use new technologies to automate and optimize processes, without being computer specialists.”
What are the technical and human skills most in demand in the supply chain market?
Patrice Floret: "At the master's level, knowledge of the market's offer on which to build your IS and a keen sense of negotiation are essential. Digitization also requires a transversal vision of the business, from the supplier to the consumer. But the "field" dimension remains essential. An executive in charge of designing automated warehouses must take into account the ergonomics of workstations and discuss with all employees."
Salomée Ruel: "The sector also requires more human skills than ever: leadership and flexibility are essential. You need to have a sense of teamwork, know how to manage stress and be highly adaptable in the face of change; a skill that the pandemic has shown to be so important."
It seems that the supply chain suffers from a lack of visibility and attractiveness to talent: what levers can companies use to meet their skills needs?
Anicia Jaegler: “Before companies realized its strategic interest, the supply chain function was neglected for a long time. Strengthening its attractiveness requires giving it more weight and visibility within the company. By providing it with a dedicated department, led by a supply chain manager. The fact that he or she sits on Comex is also a sign of its strategic importance.”
Patrice Floret: "We need to change the image of the sector by banishing the term "logistics", which is synonymous with handling, tedious and repetitive tasks. Training courses and companies alike must show the variety of supply chain jobs and missions, and also insist on its international dimension: today, a supply chain manager, who manages the delivery of a container from France to China, must design an IS capable of integrating the commercial or regulatory specificities of the different countries crossed. It's a fascinating job!
Attracting new talents, and in particular women, who are still in the minority, calls for the creation, at company level, of a real Supply Chain career plan, with evolutions in operational management or at international level. "
How has training aligned with these new needs at your institution?
Patrice Floret: “From my point of view, many training courses are struggling to integrate the cross-functional approach of the supply chain. Many establishments continue to teach purchasing with a "supply chain" veneer, when it would be more interesting to do the opposite. In addition, the proportion of teaching devoted to information systems remains too low. To avoid making it abstract and off-putting, I opt for a "seminar" format, during which the students must, for example, implement a warehouse reorganization scenario using a light version of a software editor.”
Anicia Jaegler: "At Kedge BS, the Institut Supérieur de la Logistique Industrielle (Isli), which groups together supply chain training courses, is supported by a development committee made up of professors and supply chain directors. This allows us to constantly adapt to the new needs of companies. For example, we have been training our students in carbon footprinting® since 2012. From next year, for example, we will be strengthening the data science dimension, as well as e-commerce and sustainability issues, particularly through reverse logistics."
What contributions can the new generation make to companies?
Patrice Floret: "Companies must take advantage of the geographic mobility of young people, but also of their ability to seize new technologies."
Salomée Ruel: "Their very strong sensitivity to sustainability issues and their need to give meaning to their work also constitute a real challenge for the company, both in terms of HR and social and environmental responsibility. This is an opportunity to change their practices, at the risk of being totally cut off from the aspirations of these new talents."