Anirban Ghoshal
Senior Writer

Supply chain digitization faces 3 big hurdles, PwC survey shows

News Analysis
Apr 22, 2022
Supply Chain

A PwC survey covering operations and technology leaders as well as other C-suite executives globally has identified three main roadblocks stopping them from achieving digital transformation in their supply chain operations.

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Attracting and retaining the right talent while getting a return on technology investment are the top three challenges that stop organizations from being able to successfully digitize their supply chain operations, according to a survey by management consulting firm PwC.

In PwC’s Digital Trends in Supply Chain Survey, which polled 244 operations and information technology leaders, C-suite executives and other supply chain officers globally, almost 80% of respondents claimed that their technology investment hadn’t fully delivered expected results.

“There are many reasons as to why companies don’t see a return on investment. Supply chain is a complex ecosystem consisting of stakeholders both inside and outside the organization and more often than not point solutions being implemented don’t solve the larger problem,” said Matt Comte, operations transformation leader at PwC.

To make optimal decisions involving logistics, delivery and warehousing, an integrated approach that covers many different data sets and processes is required, Comte said.

Attracting and retaining the right talent are also key to realizing the full potential on any technology investment made by an enterprise, Comte said.

Budget constraints, turnover hinder supply chain management

Almost 48% of respondents to the survey said that they were facing budget constraints driven by employee costs and more than 58% of respondents said that they were seeing higher than normal supply chain employee turnover. Only 23% fully agreed that they have the necessary digital skills to meet future goals.

“Enterprises today need the best of both technical and functional talent with the addition of a sound technology platform and quality datasets to successfully digitize their supply chain operations,” Comte said. Supply chain experts need to work with CIOs or data science engineers to create AI models that provide necessary insights, he added.

Finding employees with a collaborative mindset and understanding of business and technical capabilities is a major challenge, the survey found.

Enterprises can meet these challenges in the short-term by making effective use of platforms offered by hyperscalers and other software vendors to ensure maximum proficiency in ingesting, analysing and modelling quality data to generate more business insights, according to Comte.

Cloud, no-code can help supply chain digitization

“Industry clouds in combination with data marketplaces, exchanges along with the use of low/no-code platforms can help enterprises in the short term,” Comte said.

In the long term, though, these actions won’t overcome the talent challenge, and a realignment of companies’ current workforce may be needed, Comte said.

“CXOs need to shift the available talent against the present problems of the organisation,” Comte said, adding that some processes and tasks can be taken over by robotic process automation (RPA) or artificial intelligence (AI), which in turn will free up employees to be trained to meet future goals.