Okay, I'm being snarky. However, I've been on the end of those decisions, and it sucked. I clicked a button and prayed the screen would open. I'd have my system crash on me, lose all my work, and be greeted by the infamous blue screen of death. I'd piece together five reports in a spreadsheet to view what was going on. The only thing I enjoyed was starting my morning report and then going to get my cup of coffee as the computer spun for 20 minutes. Ah...good times, good times.
Better Outcomes are Driven by People using Effective Technology
To achieve more, you must improve productivity which, fundamentally, comes down to whether you provide your people with the right technology.
“Productivity is about people.”
- Debbie Cohen & Kate Roeske-Zummer, HBR.org
“The new investment [in technology] has contributed to an uptick in productivity by making workers more efficient.”
Now there are promising signs this is occurring across retail, CPG and other sectors. According to the U.S. Department of Labor and prior mentioned WSJ article, we’ve seen increased labor productivity since the beginning of the pandemic (as a nation). Labor productivity grew by 2.2% annually between 2020 and 2021, up from a 0.9% average annual growth from 2011 to 2019.
However, the rise in technology spending is not the only reason for the lift. Modern technology is also delivering a better user experience and more benefits than workers have enjoyed before. After all, businesses were still investing in technology from 2011 to 2019. I discussed this in a previous post.
What is different now? Artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions are more prevalent and mature. With AI and cloud computing advancements, software solutions can process immense amounts of data. Due to SaaS, software providers have become a lot more accountable, and if they fail, their revenue streams dwindle.
A Rare Opportunity for Supply Chain Executives
Established best practices no longer work today; hence, the supply chain handbook written over the past 20 years has been thrown out the window. But this pain has provided a rare opportunity for supply chain executives to demonstrate innovation – beyond replacing solutions.
A solution replacement that only adds speed and reporting will not solve today's problems.
- Retailers are facing increased customer demand with fewer employees.
- That demand is hard to predict with fluctuating shopping habits and shifting demographics.
- And new, permanent fulfillment options create inventory inefficiencies.