To follow-on with our just published Supply Chain Matters Top Ten Most Popular Blogs in 2018 highlights, we explore other supply chain management web destinations highlights of what was most top-of-mind content last year. One comes from the professional organization focused on supply chain and business forecasters and planners. Integrated Business Planning

The Institute for Business Forecasting (IBF), a professional membership organization that appeals to demand planning, forecasting, business analytics, Sales & Operations Planning and Integrated Business Planning professionals, recently highlighted its Most Popular Blog read in 2018. That blog, The Demand Planner of the Future Will Not Report to Supply Chain, summarized responses to the survey question: Where do you see Demand Planning and forecasting in the year 2025?

The blog author, Eric Wilson observes that new advanced technologies threaten many jobs including the supply chain demand planner. Noted was the following as a likely way to approach such a question:

Your view of a demand planning robot of the future really depends on how you view your role today. If you are only doing what someone else tells you and aggregating data, or relaying what the forecasting system is generating, then they can find something cheaper. If we just need a number, technology can do this faster and more efficiently with greater number of inputs and more accurate outputsIf you view Demand Planning as discipline that uses data, forecasts and experience to estimate demand and provides solutions for various business needs, then you are the next generation and ahead of the curve.”

We found above explanation to be quite plausible and easy to comprehend.  What was far more powerful and thought provoking was the following blog highlighted statement that appears in the takeaway conclusion:

The Demand Planner of 2025 will be an elevated role (beyond supply chain management) that will creatively think through problems, present solutions, and make decisions. And most of all, you will be a resource that can’t be replaced.

There should be little surprise as why this blog resonated with IBF professionals. A succinct answer to a top-of-mind concern that makes a lot of sense.

Reinforcing Article

Yet another thought leadership perspective that we can recommend comes from a February 2018 Harvard Business Review Analytics article, You Don’t Have to Be a Data Scientist to Fill This Must-Have Analytics Role.

Authors Nicolaus Henke, Jordan Levine and Paul McInerney, McKinsey senior practice leaders, argue that companies have widened their aperture to recognize that success with artificial intelligence and analytics requires not just data scientists but entire cross-functional, agile teams that include translators.

The HBR article goes on to succinctly define translators:

Instead, translators play a critical role in bridging the technical expertise of data engineers and data scientists with the operational expertise of marketing, supply chain, manufacturing, risk, and other frontline managers. In their role, translators help ensure that the deep insights generated through sophisticated analytics translate into impact at scale in an organization. By 2026, the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that demand for translators in the United States alone may reach two to four million.

The authors then go on address the various soft skills that make-up an effective translator with little surprise that it includes deep business domain knowledge, technical fluency and project management skills

Our Takeaway

Two popular perspectives that come to similar conclusions: Understand the power and purpose of the technology, how it will be best utilized in an organization, and how you can prepare your skills and experience to best match that need. Another important takeaway is remembering that supply chain management matters to many other parts of the business, and a solid background in SCM opens the door for many other future roles that demand deep or broad business domain business process knowledge.

The lens to advanced technology could well be personalized to how can I be prepared to be able to fill the organizational and business needs to leverage technology for better, more informed and timely decision-making.

Bob Ferrari

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