The Supply Chain Matters blog continues  a series of blogs that provide added detail and perspective for each of our ten 2020 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains which we unveiled on December 17.

In our previously published Part One posting in this predictions series, we explored for our readers 2020 Prediction One, what industry and global supply chain teams should anticipate in terms of global and regional economic outlooks.

In Part Two of this new year predictions series, we explored what we expect to occur in global supply management challenges and trends.

In this Part Three blog, we highlight what supply chain management teams should anticipate in the area of talent management, retention and reskilling.  The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group


Background and Introduction

On an annual basis, and since our inception in 2008, The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and our associated Supply Chain Matters blog publishes a series of supply chain management focused annual predictions which are both described, monitored and scored for actual occurrence at the conclusion of the year.

Such predictions are provided to clients, technology providers and blog readers in the spirit of advising senior and line-of-business executives, multi-industry cross-functional supply chain management and supporting information technology teams a sensing of what to expect in the coming year, Our goal is to depict how likely global, regional, economic, business and industry trends will impact and likely influence required supply chain management actions in the coming year.

The context of these predictions include a broad cross-functional umbrella of what is today considered supply chain management, and includes areas of leadership and strategy, product management, strategic sourcing and procurement, supply chain planning and customer fulfillment, manufacturing, logistics, transportation and customer service management.

Now to our specific prediction highlight.

2020 Prediction Three: Talent Management Strategies Turn More Towards Retention, Training and Reskilling as Headcount Budgets Begin to Tighten and Certain Work Becomes More Automated.


Prediction Summary

During the year 2020, as businesses step-up efforts to prepare for an eventual economic pullback, we predict that supply chain management related talent management strategies will turn towards an emphasis on retention, training and reskilling as headcount budgets begin to tighten and certain work becomes more automated.

For the past three years, we have included various aspects supply chain talent management in our annual predictions for obvious reasons. Specifically, within the U.S., with a technical condition of full-employment levels reached in 2019, the challenge and the talent crisis intensified.

For 2018, we predicted the need for businesses and teams to focus on more skills-based recruitment vs, specific job recruitment, because of the reality that a specific job will more than likely change multiple times over the next few years. As noted in our 2019 prediction, the needs surrounding talent management became ever more visible, and in some organizations reached levels that impacted ongoing initiatives especially those related to digital transformation.

The good news was that companies and their respective supply chain management organizations stepped-up efforts to recruit candidates from junior colleges and universities , military veteran outplacement programs, governmental training and other sources. Manufacturers, retailers and other businesses were in many cases, able to address added compensation needs. The ongoing boom in online fulfillment continued, with retail employment shifting toward skilled people needs in customer fulfillment centers, increased online logistics and transportation service needs.  All such efforts were important.

As noted in Prediction One, indications of a rather cautious and somewhat guarded economic outlook in the coming year, with much downside geo-political and market risks, will prompt many businesses to become more conservative in establishing operating and headcount budgets in 2020.

We predict that this will imply three broad impact areas in the existing area of talent management.

The first will be an increased focus for improved overall productivity of the existing supply chain management related workforce. That will invariably result in increased automation of certain tasks either related to production, administration, certain areas related to supply chain planning and execution, or customer fulfillment.  Increased automation implies that existing employees whose jobs may be impacted, will require the skills to be able to contribute in different roles or different skills areas related to a changed business process.

The second impact will be a likely increased priority in the specific areas of supply chain agility and risk mitigation, including a broadened leveraged use of predictive or prescriptive based analytics in decision making processes especially those related to sales and operations planning (S&OP), global supply management and supply risk mitigation coupled with global trade and tariff expertise.

The third area relates to a recent Harvard Business Review survey report foretelling that companies were about to experience a retention problem among younger, energetic Gen X employees. That study pointed to perceived frustrations related to lower levels of promotion and recognition than that of millennial and baby boomer employees. With overt needs for increased productivity and likely restricted headcount budgets, the tension and frustration levels within existing teams is likely to escalate in the coming year. Supply chain management leaders will face some tough and difficult decisions relative to realignment of staffing or flexibilities to promote existing younger employees.

SMB’s Especially Impacted

Small and medium sized businesses will continue to be the most impacted in talent management and retention, not having the financial resources to be able to compete with far larger businesses.  Neither, for various business-related factors, has the majority of SMB’s adopted the newest most advanced technologies available to supply chain management teams. Experience in working with various advanced technologies remains attractive for younger employees in terms of upward advancement opportunities.  In-demand skilled employees will likely seek opportunities that offer clearer career paths, competitive compensation and broader job retention prospects.



We once again encourage clients and readers to take the time to review what to anticipate in the coming year and how your organization can be best prepared.

As we continue our highlighting of each of our predictions in added detail, please continue to provide your individual feedback along with what specific area that most concerns you in the coming year.


Bob Ferrari

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