Media and Articles
Predicting 2012 - Talent trends in Supply Chain
January 24th, 2012
Author: Kimble Winter, CEO, Logistics Executive Group
It’s only fitting that we begin yet another year of the nervous noughties by trying to predict what lies ahead. According to readers responding, some tongue in cheek, to a question posed by the Economist1, there is a mixed bag of predictions:
“A Brit and a Yank will sit at their local pub. (They will say) "Oh how great our imperialist adventures were!" Haggle over the bill, and (then) pay in Yuan.”
“Greece will default. The Euro will survive. Employment prospects will improve in the USA. London will be wet and foggy.”
“Goodbye 2011, Windows 8, iPhone 5, Obama 2, Recovery -1.”
“Skilled, childless adults from Western Europe and America begin working remotely from countries with more favorable tax codes.”
And it will be the Year of the Dragon…will this be the year we see China positively take the high road, play good global citizen and lead the world from the brink of economic disaster?....Or will it more likely to claim itself as a developing nation, setting the backdrop for a high-stakes trade and currency war not dissimilar to the popular Hasbro board game ‘Risk’.
From a Supply Chain perspective, the challenges are ramping up with more uncertainty and a continued emphasis on global markets. Volatile challenges and exceptions now seem to be, what we have come to know as the “new normal”. Those big ‘global’ issues that are well beyond our control continue to influence business. In 2012, it is now a strategic imperative and not an operational reaction for businesses to raise the bar.
In Logistics Executive’s area of expertise, talent management, it would seem that despite the uncertain and even gloomy economic outlook, the demand for supply chain talent is to increase in 2012.
According to the Logistics Executive’s 2011-2012 Global Employment Market Report, we reported that 58.1% of respondents indicated that they expect to noticeably increase head count in 2012. Market feedback would suggest that despite an economic softening that has been seen as a result of the Europe’s debt crisis and credit downgrades, employment growth towards the second half of the year is expected to remain strong, particularly in Asia.
The survey also revealed that 62.5% of business leaders are finding it harder to source quality staff. An underpinning reason for this is the expanding demands being made of supply chain professionals to either increase their expertise or to add new skills to their repertoire.
Without question, 2012 is the time for the emergence of a more sophisticated supply chain professional. One that has taken on the mantle of business leader, responsible for providing competitive advantage by making companies agile through their strategic advantage.
Above: Findings from Logistics Executive’s Global Employment Market Report
All of the signs for 2012 translate into more of a demand for supply chain professionals with a broader skills to tackle tomorrow’s business challenges.
- Profitability is going to be the major challenge of 2012 according to CEO’s in Logistics Executive’s 2011-2012 Global Employment Market Report with 91% of CEO respondents highlighting this as one of their greatest challenges. Margins are down, costs are up and wages demands remain.
- Leadership – according to the Logistics Executive report more that 77% of respondents indicated that this was a critical focus for 2012. This leadership mantle will require a whole range of soft and strategic skills. Further supporting this is a survey from Gartner2 that now puts Supply Chain front and center at the Executive Leadership table. The report identified that the percentage of supply chain executives reporting directly to the CEO has risen from 30% to 68% from 2005 to 2010.
- Business and financial experience will be increasingly required for supply chain executives who are being groomed for top management positions. Boards of directors will look for business leadership that can exploit complex supply chains to create value for customers and trading partners.
- Analytical and modeling data skills will be of focus as Exel spreadsheets no longer cut it in 2012 markets. The need for agility and a better understanding of the supply network takes precedence, which means that professionals who are talented in these areas will continue the trend of including predictive analysis such as is being used in customer service and sales functions to gain competitive advantage.
- Commodity volatility: There will be a continued refinement of technology to manage commodity volatility as the cost of raw materials continues to fluctuate. Professionals who are well educated and have the expertise to lead in this area will be in demand.
- Emphasis on real-time information through technology, people development and process improvement. With 83.5% of respondents in the Logistics Executive’s 2011-2012 Global Employment Market Report indicating that Productivity is one of their greatest challenges in 2012. In the search to refine a timely and accurate fact based decision making process and to manage the avalanche of data now have at their disposal, supply chain executives are looking for a systematic approach to adapt to new patterns using modeling. Today’s real-time information and not yesterdays plans are now the emphasis. As well as ERP systems there will be a new demand for predictive analytics to work out profits. Supply Chain professionals and HR professionals will be emphasizing skills in process redesign, change management, user training and executive sponsorship to increase company agility and competitiveness.
- Social responsibility will increasingly be emphasized. With globalisation and the increase in community awareness, supply chain executives will need to factor the need for transparency in their market responses. Instead of pleasing board members, they will need to expand this focus outward and meet consumer group expectations. In the Logistics Executive’s 2011-2012 Global Employment Market Report, 86.76% of CEO’s and Directors indicated that customer satisfaction would be a major priority in 2012. Therefore skills in social responsibility, communication and social media tools will increase.
As an industry, Supply Chain is evolving as a highly educated sector. According to the Logistics Executive’s 2011-2012 Global Employment Market Report 88% of respondents had a degree or higher. However at all levels furthering their skills remains a priority.
At the top level Supply chain leaders will continue to hone their skills, as their function becomes more company general.
In the middle tiers, there will be a need for an increase in real-time focus with emphasis on systems, people management with a cross-cultural approach and processes that will enhance this.
At the functional levels a need to train in new skills such as technology and communication will be favored.
The over-riding message is that volatility is a fact of life. As industry continues to lean on supply chain leaders to manage them through change, there will be huge opportunities for leaders talented in agility through process and technology improvement and leadership. If you combine these skills with a deep supply chain skill base, the opportunities become truly exciting for supply chain professionals in 2012.
For a final glimpse into the future, Gartner go on to predict that by 2015, at least 25% of new CEO’s at Fortune 500 manufacturers will have a deep supply chain experience. A prediction we cannot help but concur.
It would be interesting to hear our readers’ predictions for 2012. Drop us a line.
1: Source: The Economist is an authoritative weekly newspaper focusing on international politics and business news and opinion (www.economist.com)
2: Source: Gartner – Report: Predicts 2012: Supply Chain Predictions November 2011. Gartner, Inc. is the world's leading information technology research and advisory company. (www.gartner.com)
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