Key Insights and Implications for DSC Talent Planning

Talent and Organizational Strategy Key Insights: Attract and Acquire

  • • Sourcing data science talent. Many of the firms developing digital talent have invested serious effort in developing meaningful partnerships with universities in the fields of data science and data analytics. Partnerships include sponsoring and involving Ph.D. students in researching business problems for rhe firms, as well as developing curriculum. One key observation is much dara-relared talent is found outside of supply chain and business school programs and instead is sourced from math, statistics, and engineering departments.
  • • New roles are being invented and developed. Some firms are codeveloping concepts of blended technical programs such as “data science engineering.” This is a creative solution that attempts to address the real issue of data acquisition, cleansing, and alignment before creating and deploying data science models based on business understanding.
  • • Leverage internally developed data science communities. Firms described the importance of developing Data Science Centers or competency communities. Supply chain leaders should seek talent in such hubs and recruit them to focus on supply chain business challenges.
  • • Consider looking outside the firm for key data talent. Outsourcing, investment, and acquisition of firms with key talent are strategies that have been executed by firms seeking skills, especially for key data leadership roles.
  • • Geography matters in talent strategies. Recent research has shown that 60% of job growth is expected to occur in just 25 cities in the U.S. over the next decade. A large concentration of young, educated workers will be found in these hubs. It is possible that national talent acquisition strategies are too broad, and instead a regional approach in growth geographies is more appropriate (Bughun et al., 2019).
  • • Look for talent outside your industry sector. Some research suggests that supply chain knowledge is more transferable across industries than may be popularly thought. To increase your chances of finding needed talent, don’t restrict yourself to only your firm’s industry for experienced candidates (Alicke et al., 2017).
  • • Research has shown disconnects between HR and Supply Chain on competency requirements and hiring practices (Flothmann et al., 2018).
  • • Become an attractive employment brand for data scientists, analytics engineers, and big data specialists and customer-centric process designers. Example: Wayfair’s Technology blog at https://tech. wayfair.com/ illustrates an open communications channel that does more than just share tips for developers. If you look carefully at the images and ideas presented at this publicly available site, you will see employment branding at work. Images and profiles of current tech employees, diversity, work-life balance, and challenging collaborative work. Wayfair has been successful in recruiting thousands of data-savvy tech workers. You should take notice of how they address the talent market.
  • • Develop an acquisition plan. Evaluate your segmented DSC plans and prepare a skills gap inventory. Which skills are missing? What roles need to be filled? Target-specific skills needed for the segment strategy. Augment teams initially with outside consultants in data science, analytics, IoT, and so forth and learn what is specifically needed in your recruitment. Pair outside consultants with internal associates to improve knowledge transfer and development during digital pilots. Expand acquisition plans, communities, and networks based on pilot outcomes.

Attract and Acquire: Implications for Talent Planning

As you develop and evaluate your DSC Talent plans, consider the following questions:

  • Are you developing digital skills partnerships with universities and other sources of talent?
  • Are you looking for the right skills? The right roles? Are roles described in ways that are up to date with the latest language and technologies?
  • Are you creating and communicating a talent brand that is attractive to digitally skilled talent? Does your employment brand demonstrate a community of like-minded employees that is visible to talent prospects and recruiters?
  • Do you have a plan for where to seek talent? Outside firms? The right geographies? The right sectors?
  • Have you aligned your talent plants with your HR departments and clearly communicated your needs?

Talent and Organizational Strategy Key Insights: Build and Develop

  • • Our research has shown that organizations should consider investing in the building of thoughtfully designed data-centric supply chain communities where co-located data-skilled talent works on supply chain problems. Data-centric skills, such as data engineering, data analytics, and data science, are best married to functional experts with experience in framing critical supply chain performance problems. By creating a working environment where technical skills and functional skills can collaborate on specific, clearly defined supply chain problems that are well chosen for urgency and impact, firms will reap the benefits of digital strategies more rapidly.
  • • Learning & development is no longer a “nice to have.” Supply chain leaders no longer think of digital learning and development to be an optional investment (Alicke et ah, 2017). Whether it is new talent that needs functional training in Supply Chain Management (SCM) or digital training to bolster the efficacy of supply chain “translators” who can blend functional and digital knowledge, the intersecting needs of staff all need development pathways to become more effective in executing digital strategies. There is a distinctive shift to support lifelong learning and an expectation that firms need to build a higher level of digital literacy among a broader range of associates. Recent studies have pointed out that production work and transportation services (supply chain positions) will have the highest job displacement rates (6 million jobs lost by 2030 in the U.S.) (Bughun et ah, 2019). This will place additional pressure and urgency on the re-skilling plans of forward-thinking firms.
  • • Be realistic about the ability to re-train modest technicians into highly functioning analytic experts. The Digital Supply Chain

Institute’s annual survey asked respondents, “how will you close the (digital) talent gap?” (DSCI, 2020). For the first time since the Institute began gathering this type of data, firms reported that the development of talent (57%) was the primary approach over the acquisition of talent (31%) (DSCI, 2020). This shift towards development brings with it some adjustments in expectations about which roles, skills, and types of development are feasible, and which transitions may be beyond reach. Developing supply chain analysts into data scientists, for example, may not be possible given the extensive education, dedication, and drive required for demanding technology roles. Also, managers should consider the array of needs in developing complex data-driven strategies. Our research has shown, for instance, that data scientists required to do all the data-engineering are a flight risk. Be sure to balance out development with current capabilities and be open to acquiring talent to fill key gaps.

• SCM and analytical problem-solving are key skills.

A recent study of 243 supply chain managers indicated that SCM managers involved in hiring ranked SCM knowledge and problemsolving skills as three times more important than general management skills (Flothmann et al., 2018). This study allows us to better understand the competency requirements of supply chain planners and analysts and to identify personal preferences of hiring managers toward job candidates’ competency profiles. The implications are that Human Resource Management and SCM experts should invest in joint efforts to define objective requirements to ensure a candidate’s profile matches the needs, strategic goals, and organizational culture (Flothmannet al., 2018).

  • • Leadership Imperative. Our research shows that new forms of digital-human interaction need thoughtful leadership attention. In one recent example, Walmart Inc. faced a strike by thousands of workers in South America in the wake of the retailer’s push to increase automation at its physical stores (Lombrana, 2019). About 17,000 Walmart workers in Chile went on an indefinite strike in as many as 124 of the retailer’s 375 stores across the country. The automation push “isn’t Walmart’s idea, it’s the way our clients have decided to shop,” said Monica Tobar, Walmart Chile Vice-president of Human Resources in an interview, “The world is going through a digital transformation and we need to be a part of that” (Lombrana, 2019). To avoid labor disruptions in operations, leaders need to approach human and digital interactions with greater sensitivity and preparation.
  • • Plan for the displacement of associates who cannot survive the transition. For associates whose skills have become out of date and are unwilling to undertake re-skilling to meet new job requirements, formulate a clear and transparent plan for their displacement.
  • • Training should be targeted at service levels and needs simultaneously. Development curricula should be created and published to show associates what they should be learning and offer direction on providers (internal vs. external) and the handling of training costs.

Build and Develop: Implications for Talent Planning

As you develop and evaluate your DSC Talent plans, consider the following questions:

  • Have you invested in and supported the development of supply chain knowledge communities where data-driven digital collaboration can grow?
  • Are you developing and running digital leadership and functional learning programs that are accessible to the right staff? Are you taking advantage of these programs in ways that allow for crossfunctional collaboration to be practiced and encouraged? Do your programs address the leadership aspects of transformation?
  • Have you assessed the skills and capabilities of your current staff? Of your current teams, how many could be developed into more digital players and which do you think may need to be transitioned out?
  • Are you clear about what skills are most needed for your DSC strategic implementation? SMC and analytic skills? Problem-solving skills?
 
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