Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 48 seconds

Ever since the emergence of supply chain technology decades ago, there have been various views flying around on the impact of technology in the supply chain. While some people seem to suggest that technology will significantly hurt supply chain businesses, many argue that technology will provide opportunities yet to be explored. The truth however is that the mix of technology and people will result in so many more opportunities although it is no secret that some people will lose their jobs.

When it comes to enhancing the supply chain, change is inevitable. With many industries now conforming to technology, it will be suicidal for your supply chain to remain in the dark ages. However, the right balance should be sought to ensure that efficiency and employment for people are maintained. Professionals argue that the right balance is 60-40 of technology and human according to findings of Coyote Logistics. In their study, Coyote surveyed shippers and carriers about the implications of technology on the supply chain. Their research found that blending is best. The respondents claimed that human expertise is irreplaceable despite the advancements that have been made in technology. Crucial components such as decision-making, tasks which require strategic thinking such as communication with customers, and those such as resolving customer delivery issues cannot be automated fully.

To optimally conduct operations in the supply chain, both people and technology must coexist. Each of the two has a unique role to play as seen in Coyote’s Tech + Humanity survey. In this survey, Coyote found 13 tasks that best suit humans, tasks that can be optimized by using technology and those that require a combination of human and tech. While technology has shown potential in many areas such as strengthening operational functions like booking of shipments and inventory, what this research revealed is that some aspects of technology still need human intervention.

All together

Technology and humans cannot exist in silos. Ensuring that the two works together allows changing customer demands in the market to be met. While technology offers visibility and data management which is critical for the establishment of a good supply chain strategy, human expertise on the other hand is key in unlocking the possibilities that technological tools and data bring. This is critical in making the right decisions that any supply chain needs for it to prosper.

Coyote’s study concludes that properly blending technology and human support should be the main focus of every organization as this increases efficiency by enabling organizations to identify the tasks that can be handled by technology and those that can be best left to humans. After determining the tasks, supply chain professionals should move ahead and investigate opportunities that are necessary for efficiency to be enhanced and find out gaps in their organizations that technology and human talent can help fill.

For example, supply chain companies can invest in a warehouse management system that uses technology to track inventory and monitor items with more accuracy speeding the manual work. On the other hand, employees can shift their focus to analysis of how volume of items moving in and out and movement times of a particular item.

In summary, by leveraging on technology to help human professionals to carry out specific tasks, supply chain companies can streamline their operations and plan their operations better. This increases efficiency, productivity and in the end raises profits.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

Find his portfolio here and his personal bio here

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