However, the acceleration towards the digital era also presents a potential hazard: the speed of change may outpace the ability of businesses, schools, technical colleges and universities to adapt their courses to meet the challenge. This means that the supply of suitable resources might not be sufficient to meet the demands of businesses. In such circumstances it will be up to industry to find ways of developing their existing workforces to bridge the skills deficit. Inevitably this will mean industry leaders will have to work with Universities etc, to design executive courses that are shorter than the traditional 3 or 4 year degrees and truly embrace the concept of lifelong learning.
Advice for businesses building the workforce of the future…
To better understand the opportunities presented by the digital era of warehousing, businesses may need to build mechanisms and facilities that challenge the status quo. Businesses will need to foster creativity and possibly entertain business functions that are designed to break the current operational model (internal competition or even black ops teams). Instead of trying to make the existing system more efficient they may need to break out of the competency trap by releasing creativity through de-coupled budgets and disintegrated organisational structures. These challenges are not trivial and many organisations will struggle to implement such radical creativity. But there are examples, even in the world of logistics.
Online grocery retailer Ocado, which now employs over 3000 software engineers, is doing just this. Investing in technology to disrupt the grocery store footprint, Ocado is using software and algorithms to creatively solve all types of problems, which previously would have been handled by material handling companies. By doing this, it is able to effectively optimise end-to-end processes for customers and eliminate costs that traditional grocery retail operations often incur.
How is automation and AI changing the skills needed in your workforce? Are you ready for disruption?