Of Moms and Merit: Align Digital, Talent to Prepare Next Generation

By May 17, 2019Beyond Supply Chain, News
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Three fairly unrelated things coincided this week to inspire this blog: Mother’s Day, the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference and the release of Gartner’s 2019 CEO survey.

Each year Mother’s Day gives us a chance to reflect and appreciate the wisdom, work and unheralded effort of the mothers and mother figures who have touched our lives. It is a yearly reminder of how much I underappreciate everything my mother did for me and what my wife does for our children. They both quietly go about the role, not seeking praise or recognition.

The 2019 addition of Gartner’s Supply Chain Executive Conference just concluded. Over 2,500 professionals came together this week to discuss, “A New Era: Converging the Physical and Digital Supply Chains.”

Digital has become intertwined with the supply chain profession as we’ve spent years digitalizing aspects of it to achieve the highest level of productivity ever. At the conference, supply chain executives demonstrated how they are blending the lessons of the past with their aspirations for the future to deliver sustainable commercial success. However, that comes with a significant “but.”

A result caught my attention in the most recent version of Gartner’s just-released CEO study. CEOs were asked to rate how “tech savvy” they think each of their executive team members are relative to what will be needed in their roles over the next two years. Their choices were “strong, sufficient, lacking, or weak.” Surprisingly, at least to me, more than one in four CEOs rated their chief supply chain officer (CSCO) as either lacking or weak. In a group of 12 executive team members, the CSCO was rated third from the bottom in “tech savviness.”

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Spending the week with thousands of supply chain professionals, I learned so much about the innovative and inspiring digital initiatives they are driving within their organizations. So I can only surmise that the results from the CEO survey indicate a lack of appreciation, understanding or perhaps both for what supply chain professionals are accomplishing. Perception hasn’t caught up with reality.

Still, the task does not end with an appreciation of our capabilities, but with preparing for the future. Today’s supply chain executive has had to learn on the fly as business has required adoption of digital technologies. We have the opportunity to improve this for future generations of the profession by aligning our talent strategies. Our recent Team of Tomorrow survey indicated that only 20% of companies had coordinated their talent strategies with their digital roadmaps. Half of the remaining 80% were, at best, somewhat aligned. The rest were reactive or simply not aligned.

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Quentin Roach, chief procurement officer and senior vice president at Merck, best captured the point. “The technology transformation and the digital aspects of supply chain that are coming about today are going to make a massive difference in the work capabilities, the skill sets needed and even the way our employees interact and collaborate, both internally and externally. That’s the real opportunity — building the skills for the next generation of employees, the next generation of supply chain.”

So, don’t be bashful about thanking the mother figures in your life. And remember that we owe it to the next generation of supply chain professionals to trumpet our successes in order to garner the recognition we deserve today. Take care to align talent strategies to the digital roadmap to ensure our future professionals are prepared for what’s to come.


Michael Uskert, Chief of Research, Gartner Supply Chain


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