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Supply Chain's Future

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi CSCP, CPA, CAE | 0 | 0 | November 30, 2012

APICS Operations Management NowThis week, APICS staff participated in the Global Symposium on Best Practices in Talent-Driven Innovation sponsored by the Manufacturing Institute, Deloitte, and the Alcoa Foundation. This interactive forum brought together global leaders to discuss the significant shortage of skilled workers in manufacturing. The message delivered: Failure to address the shortage of skilled workers likely will act as a constraint on future manufacturing advancement across the globe. 

In his opening address, Craig Giffi, vice chairman of Deloitte, made the case that the key to manufacturing competitiveness is innovation driven by talent. Giffi referenced the 2013 Deloitte Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index Report, which showed developed nations have a competitive advantage based on their ability to cultivate their manufacturing workforce. The index, which is based on input from more than 500 CEOs, further defined the quality and availability of scientists, researchers, and engineers as being the most important factor in talent-driven manufacturing innovation.

The future of manufacturing has been a compelling topic for major research studies this year. In a recently released report, “Manufacturing the Future: The next era of global growth and innovation,” the McKinsey Global Institute in conjunction with the McKinsey Operations Practice, examined trends affecting the evolution of manufacturing. This report does an exceptional job of presenting manufacturing’s historic and current contribution to the global economy, analyzing the transformational impact of the Great Recession, segmenting manufacturing industries based on critical supply chain factors, and outlining the direction for creating supply chain strategy as well as public policy.

McKinsey’s research underscores that talent is crucial to innovation and competitiveness finding “the new era of manufacturing will be marked by highly agile, networked enterprises that use information and analytics as skillfully as they employ talent and machinery to deliver products and services to diverse global markets.”

Developing the supply chain professional


Today, workforce development initiatives in manufacturing tend to focus on improving elementary and secondary education as a foundation. There is no question that this is incredibly important to creating a qualified workforce. But advancing manufacturing starts with advancing the capabilities of supply chain and operations professionals who are well qualified for their current jobs, but who need to develop the knowledge and skills they will require in the near-term.

For example, according to the McKinsey report, “across manufacturing industries, the use of big data can make substantial improvements in how companies respond to customer needs and how they run their machinery and operations. These enormous databases, which can include anything from online chatter about a brand or product to real-time feeds from machine tools and robots, have great potential for manufacturers__if they can master the technology and find the talent with the analytical skills to turn data into insights or new operating improvements.”

This year, APICS conducted a practitioner research study on the use of big data in operations and supply chain management. One of the challenges identified was the relatively low level of understanding survey participants possessed regarding big data. I am confident that as you read about the McKinsey report you immediately understood the potential impact of big data on planning, sourcing, producing, and delivering. If you do not feel you have a fundamental understanding of the concept of big data, I encourage you to download the APICS report. Learning about this transformational subject can be an important first step for you as a professional and for APICS in supporting your development.

Over the next three weeks, I am going to continue to delve into the McKinsey report, both through this e-newsletter and in the Operations Management Now community on the APICS Supply Chain Channel. I will explore critical themes in the report as they apply to supply chain and operations professionals today and tomorrow as APICS strives to create programs to better support you in developing the skills and knowledge you need to advance innovation and competitive success.

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