India's Supply Chain: Critical Skills that businesses are looking for in new employees or business partners
In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, the supply chain industry in India is experiencing a transformative wave. With digitization, advanced technology integration, and increased investments, supply chain specialists are facing a paradigm shift in their roles and responsibilities. As the industry continues to grow, so do the expectations of top leadership when it comes to hiring talent or identifying logistics partners for their business.
The demand for specialised skills in the supply chain industry has gone beyond traditional transportation roles, transforming supply chain professionals into agile business partners comparable to marketing and sales experts. Companies now evaluate core competencies to see how supply chain specialists exceed typical expectations and act as extended partners in the business.
In this blog, we will explore the key skills that employers or business leaders are seeking in supply chain specialists in India and how the changing dynamics are shaping the new age logistics industry.
1. Technological Proficiency
With high technology penetration in the supply chain sector across the globe, it is imperative for supply chain specialists to be tech-savvy. From using sophisticated supply chain management software to leveraging data analytics and automation tools, the ability to work with cutting-edge technologies is now a core requirement. According to a recent study by Ernst and Young, in the digital age, there will be four dominant personas that the employer or business head is looking for in his employees or supply chain partners - technologists, innovators, orchestrators and analysts. All these personas are at the crossroads of technology, domain knowledge and deep industry understanding.
Employers are seeking candidates who can seamlessly integrate technology into their operations, making the supply chain more efficient and responsive. As service providers, logistics companies today focus on repetitive, process-oriented operations, with a strong emphasis on operational transactions; however, going forward, expertise in digital documentation, port systems, airlines, customs, and other areas will be in demand. Given the ongoing digitization and technological improvements in the industry at the governance and business level, partners or employees with operations and technical knowledge will be most sought after. Technology will be seen as an enabler for seamless user experience, while operations and domain knowledge will help reduce friction and maximise technological efficiency.
2. Data Analysis and Insights:
As digitization becomes more prevalent, data has emerged as a critical asset in supply chain decision-making. Employers are on the lookout for professionals who can harness the power of data analytics to identify trends, predict demand patterns, optimise inventory, and make informed strategic decisions. Supply chain specialists who can extract meaningful insights from data and translate them into actionable strategies are highly sought after.
In this context, it is essential to recognize the value of digital tools as precious resources that aid decision-making. Thus, there is a need for highly skilled and knowledgeable supply chain heads with a deep understanding of technology and business acumen.
3. Adaptability and Flexibility:
In this dynamic business environment, the supply chain landscape can change rapidly. Companies seek employees who are adaptable and can handle unforeseen challenges with ease. Supply chain specialists should be capable of quickly adjusting their strategies, collaborating across departments, and responding to disruptions such as supply chain bottlenecks or global crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. As businesses restructure, there is a fluidity in roles and departments. For eg: The transport department of an industry has evolved into supply chain departments, however, there is a lack of understanding in terms of the extent to which supply chain departments need to be involved in the entire business process. Both internally and with business partners, there is a lack of knowledge transfer, necessitating better upskilling and reskilling initiatives. It also means that third party business partners with industry expertise will be expected to bridge this gap.
4. End-to-End Supply Chain Knowledge:
Employers are increasingly looking for supply chain professionals who possess a comprehensive understanding of the end-to-end supply chain process. From procurement and inventory management to transportation, warehousing, and distribution, a well-rounded understanding of the entire supply chain ecosystem is vital. Specialists who can optimise the entire supply chain, rather than just isolated segments, are highly valued.
5. Expert in Communication and People Skills
To thrive in this rapidly evolving landscape, supply chain professionals need to be experts in managing vendor and customer relationships to maintain a human connection in this increasingly automated world. Good communication and people skills will be seen as an important trait, as it will help businesses manage their reputation and goodwill with their clients and vendors. The ability to understand the customer's business will be vital for successful technology implementation, making the supply chain industry more efficient and responsive to changing demands.
The new age supply chain will look at multidimensional and multi-skilled employees or business partners for long term business success. It will be important for the businesses to know that their partners can navigate and evolve as per the current and future supply chain landscape.
Top leadership expects supply chain specialists to possess not only traditional skills but also proficiency in technology, data analysis, adaptability, and global awareness. By nurturing these in-demand skills, supply chain professionals or third-party logistics partners can position themselves for success in the dynamic and evolving landscape of the Indian supply chain sector.