As Industrial Supply Chains Undergo Digital Transformation, Talent Gaps Persist

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The digital transformation of supply chains is well underway, but finding the right talent to drive this transformation remains a challenge for many industrial companies.

According to a survey of senior executives from the industrial manufacturing sector conducted by Korn Ferry, talent is viewed as the “secret to sustainable success” when it comes to digital transformation, regardless of whether a company is in the beginning stages of digitization or well along in the process.

As the authors of the report explained, the search for digital talent marks a shift in mentality for industrial companies, which in the years following the Great Recession have focused more on cutting costs than driving growth.

This is changing, however, as leading industrial companies such as General Electric (GE) and Siemens push to innovate and rebrand by embracing digital technology. The chief executive of GE has announced ambitions for the company to become one of the world’s top 10 software firms by 2020.

As The Economist put it, GE and Siemens are “going through the most profound change in their corporate histories, attempting to switch from being makers of machines into fully digital businesses.”

Korn Ferry suggested that this process of transformation itself plays well into rebranding. A good transformation story would be “critical for recruiting digital talent from pure-play tech firms and for attracting university graduates [who] might otherwise be tempted to find jobs with firms such as Apple or Google,” the report authors wrote.

Millennial professionals are drawn to the prospect of being at the cutting edge and of making an impact. Annette Clayton, chief supply chain officer at Schneider Electric, told Korn Ferry that “a purpose-led mission really resonates with digital and millennial talent.”

Source: Korn Ferry

The data shown in the chart above come from a different survey that Korn Ferry conducted of supply chain executives. As the chart shows, the challenge is to find professionals who can provide both leadership potential and technical skills, and the latter appears to be more in demand.

The same survey shows that approximately one out of 10 organizations are dealing with the talent gap through external recruitment of digital talent, with 27% opting to develop skills internally.

A far larger share, however, are choosing to do both. As one survey participant told Korn Ferry, “As much as we are trying to recruit and attract external talent, we are also building awareness and training our employees — getting them aligned with a digital strategy.”

No discussion of the talent issue is complete without mentioning the growing market of contingent workforce solutions. If you haven’t checked out Spend Matters’ Contingent Workforce & Services Landscape Definition and Overview, download it here!

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