Supply chain management has become increasingly significant to businesses in an increasingly competitive economy. Supply chain management is at the core of the South African and global economy, and it is a key area in most organisations, with applications in diverse of industries.
COVID-19 disruptions highlighted the importance and significance of supply chain management at a global level. Industry experienced more disruptions in the first few months of 2020 than it has experienced in the entire 2019. Many of the COVID-19 induced disruptions threatened the existence of key suppliers causing stock outs at multiple levels in supply chains due to factory shutdowns, international shipping delays and staff shortages along the value chain.
The pandemic, and now the Russia/Ukraine crisis, have highlighted several vulnerabilities in supply chains. These risks often involve the overreliance on sole suppliers for raw materials, supplier location and transport limitations. These global emergencies placed the current global supply chain model in the spotlight. The era of linear supply chain models is coming to a close. Business models must become more dynamic, responsive, and robust. These models should blur the lines between supply chain teams, use real-time data analytics for decision-making, and allow for increased information flow. This will assist supply chain in more efficiently absorbing and responding to shocks. As a result, industry must prioritise supply chain risk management and resilience.
Recent developments and technological advancements disrupted traditional business models. These advancements, on the other hand, benefit supply chains and their customers. Technology boosts connectivity, allowing supply chain decision-makers to access real-time information. The growing use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and neural networks in the supply chain has changed the industry. All of these technologies are used to cut costs while improving the dependability of product and service offerings. We may expect to see a lot more "self-organised" supply chains in the near future.
New technologies include the use of drones for last mile deliveries, 3D printing for on-demand manufacturing, artificial intelligence for real-time decision-making, The Internet of Things (IoT) enabling real-time visibility of operations and autonomous vehicles to reduce delivery cost. These technologies are rapidly shaping the future of supply chains. Therefore, industry should anticipate and understand the impact of these 4IR technological innovations to gain first mover competitive advantage.
“Digital and analytical skills are the future. The adoption of 4IR technology has a major influence on the overall design and sustainability of supply chains. However, a successful supply chain professional requires a combination of hard and soft skills. Success is defined by the capacity to adapt and constantly learn new skills”, commented Wesley Niemann, Lecturer and MPhil Supply Chain Management Programme Manager at the Department of Business Management, University of Pretoria.
The education and training institutions in South Africa has an important role to fulfil in addressing the supply chain management skills shortage in the country. The latest 2021 National Scares Skills list published by the Department of Labour identified various supply chain occupations where critical shortages exist.
The higher education and training institutions have an enormous task to produce qualified graduates to an industry at the economic heart of the country. Developing and improving supply chain management skills levels are important not only for productivity but also for enhancing the innovation capacity of the supply chain management industry and economy.
“Globally, we have seen a substantive increase in the development of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes with specialisation in supply chain management. Also, locally many public and private higher education providers now report soaring enrolment numbers” said Wesley.
Enterprises University of Pretoria (Enterprises UP), in collaboration with experts from the University of Pretoria (UP), recognises the importance to remain at the cutting edge of developments and trends in this dynamic industry. To that end, they designed a game-changing series of short courses and programmes that will equip you with the necessary skill set and insights to apply the latest technologies and find solutions to increasingly demanding customers.
While they provide a variety of Supply Chain Management training programmes and short courses for individuals, organisations may also customise courses to meet the specific needs of their workforce. Organisations can choose their preferred course and designate key subjects to be addressed in order to meet their organisation’s skill development goals.