Overcoming the digital skills gap in supply chains

Marcus Jeffery
3 October, 22

Just 23% of organisations completely agree their supply chain teams currently have the necessary digital skills to meet future goals, according to PwC. As the digital skills gap continues to grow, its important organisations understand the tech capabilities of each generation. Warehouse staff must have access to technology that empowers them to work easily, making onboarding and training straightforward.

Consumer technology is going to be vital in ensuring smooth supply chain operations despite the digital skills gap. Smart devices (such as iOS, Windows and Android products) are adaptable and customisable, allowing workers to use the technology in a way that suits them best.

Familiarity is key

In today’s digital world, everyone owns at least one smart device – from tablets to smartphones. In 2019, Deloitte discovered that 90% of adults own a smartphone and 95% of those devices are used daily. No matter the brand, each smart device has the same concept – an easy to navigate touch screen, a camera and connectivity to the internet.

Labour shortages have hit supply chains hard with more than 80% of organisations experiencing staff shortages in the warehouse.  In light of this, organisations want to onboard new staff as quickly and efficiently as possible and get them working. With the likelihood workers use a smartphone in their day-today life being high, warehouses can take advantage of this to slash training time. The familiarity means workers don’t need as much guidance as they would with traditional green screen devices.

Customisation to boost employee satisfaction

Traditionally, warehouses have used green screen terminals to manage their operations. The younger generations of workers will find this type of technology out-dated, preferring to use sleek modern smart devices. But older and more experiences warehouse workers are more familiar with green screen devices and may prefer to keep hold of them at work.

Smart devices can be used to fill this technological skills gap. Their customisable nature allows workers to choose between a contemporary or green screen interface. Furthermore, workers can change font styles and sizes, allowing them to read important information in a comfortable format. Employees are empowered to work in a way that suits their needs.

Avoid distractions

One of the major benefits of incorporating smart devices into warehouses is that they easily connect to the internet. This allows workers to easily access the apps and resources they need to carry out tasks efficiently. Also, devices can easily communicate with one another and connect with systems that supply warehouse managers with increased visibility into operations.

However, smart devices often utilise consumer orientated apps to access the internet – such as Safari and Chrome. This can open a door to distractions from games to unauthorised websites. To ensure focused work, organisations can adopt purpose built industrial browsers and only allow access to the resources staff need. With devices locked-down, management teams know customer orders are being filled efficiently.

Gain competitive advantage 

Positive customer experiences now rely heavily on the speed of packing and picking. In fact, 40% of customers state that it would prevent them from making a purchase if it took more than two days for delivery. Despite the ongoing labour shortages, fast order completion can be maintained through utilising the right technological solutions. Smart devices already have voice processing abilities from Siri to Alexa to Cortana.

Hands-free, voice enabled technology allows workers to keep moving, reminding themselves of the items needing to be picked whilst walking to the next aisle. As mobile devices already have voice processing abilities, additional dedicated voice recognising hardware isn’t needed. The technology to aid workers in warehouses already exists in day-to-day life, it just needs to be taken advantage of.

Bridging the gap

92% of organisations state that digital skills are key to success, helping to drive growth, innovation and productivity. Warehouses can utilise consumer technology to ensure all employees have access to an empowering work-life despite their digital abilities. As labour shortages continue, familiar and customisable technology is going to be crucial in creating streamlined supply chain operations.

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