A strong economy accompanied by the need to remain competitive, support growth, and adjust to evolving business needs has prompted the “war for talent” to intensify significantly.

Organizations realize their supply chains can no longer be served by periodic improvements and must be optimized continuously to meet business objectives.

This need for ongoing improvement has created a recognition within companies to attract and retain talent using methods such as aggressive compensation, elevated benefits packages, etc. as project staffing becomes harder to maintain. The demand for talent has exceeded the supply available, and I’d like to use this blog to highlight why this is occurring and how companies can adjust.

#1. Workplace loyalty is becoming an archaic notion. Companies have discovered the saying “it’s nothing personal; it’s just business” is a two-way street. When employers cut jobs and wages to lower costs and produce higher profits to appease shareholders, employees will seek employment elsewhere if a better, more challenging opportunity presents itself. With the current state of the labor market being “seller friendly,”  highly skilled employees have a multitude of options.

Furthermore, having many jobs has become commonplace for younger generations, a trend that will likely establish itself as the norm. This is often the result of an organization lacking defined career paths or advancement opportunities, thus prompting talented individuals to seek growth opportunities elsewhere as they present themselves.

#2. Insufficient STEM skills. Both analytical skills and soft skills are lacking for many organizations. While many younger employees are tech savvy, they often do not possess the analytical skills (which is different than technological adeptness) needed to manage large, complex data sets which help provide insight into how supply chain should operate.

Additionally, professional development limited by lack of a transparent growth path may leave staff members feeling stuck in their current roles. The resulting turnover from a perceived lack of development can limit the organization’s ability to develop the technical skills it desperately needs.

#3. Operational requirements have expanded greatly. Supply chains have become more complex than ever before and organizations must now segment their supply chain strategy across product lines, service offerings, customer grouping, and more. A single strategy can no longer meet and support operational needs. The reality is “one-size-fits-all” fits no one well.

Beyond that, shifting markets between traditional brick & mortar stores, e-commerce offerings, omni-channel availability, expedited service requirements, etc. apply additional pressure on companies to deliver satisfactory experiences to partners and customers. Flexibility, agility, and inventory accuracy are required to deliver high levels of customer service and have become a focal point of C-suite and stakeholders, and supply chains must deliver on these expectations with limited resources. So, at a time when the operational and reporting requirements are increasing, the skills and individual loyalty are lagging.  

Flexibility, agility, and inventory accuracy are required to deliver high levels of customer service and have become a focal point of C-suite and stakeholders, and supply chains must deliver on these expectations with limited resources.

“Make vs. Buy” Talent Solution

Unfortunately, the struggle to acquire staff members with the strong, analytical capabilities will continue well into the future and the ability to develop people internally will prove even more challenging. With many organizations operating with limited time and resources, utilizing a managed analytics approach may prove to be the best option. This allows internal departments to partner with external experts to improve business functions.

The partnership gives the business professionals the time and ability to focus on the day-to-day management activities required for their role while leveraging the data analysis skills of the external team. This reduces the overall costs associated with turnover, training, and technology requirements. Service support options are emerging which provide skilled services to manage intelligent business applications in a new model: a “servication” model which is the blend of managed services and applications. As talent shortages intensify, I expect more organizations to utilize a servication model to support their capability needs by incorporating the servication model with internal staffing capabilities.

Jonathan Whitaker is a principal in Chainalytics’ Integrated Demand & Supply Planning practice. His extensive analytical and supply chain background incorporates big data and analytic client engagements in areas including transformative life sciences solutions, supply chain operations and strategy, asset optimization, predictive analytics and inventory optimization.


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