Lack of core technical skills is stifling procurement and supply chain teams in the race to Industry 4.0
While nearly all supply chain and procurement leaders are making major investments in digital technologies to drive efficiency, one in four are yet to see any improvements
London, 15.05.23: As digital transformation continues to reshape industries, supply chain, and procurement teams are feeling the pressure to compete in the race to Industry 4.0. New research has found that while many are not reaping the benefits of digital investments, 73% are planning to invest even more in digital technologies next year – particularly in areas like providing supply chain visibility and tracking and advanced supply chain planning and optimization.
The cost of chasing digital innovation
Despite the world of technologies at their fingertips promising drastic improvements, a quarter of those surveyed said they had not noticed any improvements in the speed (25%) or accuracy (21%) of their team’s work.
In spite of this, many teams are still planning to increase their digital technology investments in the next five years by 7% in supply chain visibility and tracking and 8% in measuring environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance to drive efficiencies and boost business growth.
A lack of core technical skills is damaging ROI
While there may be many reasons why big technology investments are falling short, it is clear that many teams feel they do not have the skills they need to make the most of the tools in their reach – with 98% of leaders fearing their teams are lacking core skills in at least one area.
Over two-thirds (69%) of supply chain and procurement leaders recognize technical skills as a crucial requirement, closely followed by strategic thinking (67%). But these are areas in which knowledge and experience are lacking, with a quarter (25%) of supply chain professionals not confident in their team’s digital literacy and technology proficiency. But, more surprisingly, in all areas, it is senior professionals that feel they lack the most skills in their teams, from digital literacy and technology (48%) to supply chain and procurement analytics (53%).
The struggle for buy-in
It is no surprise, then, that for almost a third of respondents (32%), previous technology investments have not delivered as anticipated. This is a big challenge for senior supply chain and procurement professionals, who struggle to secure a budget for digital technology investments (69%) or even predict a return on investment (36%). Convincing team members to buy into the technology’s potential or really believe in its benefits is proving difficult for more than a quarter (26%).
Upskilling teams is the crucial next step in every digital transformation journey
Recognizing the importance of having the right skills, supply chain, and procurement leaders are confident that training will provide the answer. Over half of those surveyed (52%) believe personalized e-learning programs are crucial if leaders want to upskill their teams and make the most of innovative technologies, now and in the future. E-learning (44%), mentorship (39%), and formal qualifications (38%) are also thought to be helpful.
Sam Pemberton, CEO at Skill Dynamics, said: “Investing in new technologies is only half the battle. Without the right technical skills, supply chain and procurement teams will struggle to realize the full potential of their investments. It’s clear from our research that senior professionals are under pressure to upskill themselves just as much as their teams to make the most of these investments”
Adrian Preston, Head of Supply Chain Content at Skill Dynamics, added: “As we charge through the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is not enough just to find great digital technologies and invest in them. Supply chain and procurement leaders must think more holistically if they want to support their teams in their digital transformation journey. Without the right training infrastructure and learning environment, businesses will fall behind in the race to Industry 4.0 and leaders will lose confidence and stop investing in them altogether.”