Specialist supply chain recruitment agencies are facing an intense period of talent-hunting following a new study by the international trade association, MHI, which forecasts a dramatic investment surge in digital supply chains. However, it warns that the greatest challenge will be finding the talent possessing the requisite skills for implementing the technology. MHI predicts from its survey results that digital supply chains will become the prevailing model in a mere five years. But the new supply chain jobs generated will need exceptionally tech-savvy candidates.

Investment in digital supply chain investment is approaching a pivot point, the survey data suggests. The declining investment of the 2015-2018 period is about to be reversed, with a massive 95% surge in projected spending this year, forecasts the study – 2019 MHI Annual Industry Report: Elevating Supply Chain Digital Consciousness.A top concern about the investment surge, cited by 65% of the manufacturing and supply chain professionals surveyed, was finding sufficiently qualified candidates to fill the new-generation supply chain jobs that will ensue.

The new technologies with the greatest potential to transform supply chains include predictive analytics, robotics and automation, artificial intelligence, blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), wearable and mobile tech, driverless vehicles and drones, cloud computing and storage, inventory and network optimisation, sensors and automatic identification, and 3D printing.

Noting that the speed of supply chain digital transformation the survey had tracked over six years was ‘truly astounding’, MHI’s CEO, George Prest said: “With supply chain complexity showing no signs of slowing, the risk of inaction is only growing. Leading manufacturing and supply chain executives agree that technology is the key to future success.” The problem is that the supply chain talent gap is growing, not narrowing, as the uptake of these new technologies increases. The new supply chain jobs need highly-skilled professionals equipped with know-how in analytics/modelling/visualisation, strategic problem-solving, cross-functional knowledge, and general business acumen. Supply chain recruitment firms are in for a busy time.