We had the pleasure to have an insightful conversation about digitalisation, technology and future of Supply Chain with Roeland van den Berg, Programme Manager of Operational Excellence & Innovation at Wallgreens Boots Alliance.
Here’s what we talked about.
The world is changing fast – demanding customers, rapid digitalisation… What do these macro trends mean for supply chain, and how are you stepping up to the challenges?
“The only constant is change” – this is moving at a more rapid pace than before, but there have always been risks and opportunities. For me it’s very important to be open to these risks, opportunities and threats, and tackle them proactively to turn them into competitive advantages. For example, we have all worked with demanding customers with certain market-power – but we used their requirements to improve internal processes and increase services to all customers. I have many more examples, when a shipping company went bankrupt or when legally we were forced to put barcodes on every single unit. It’s very important to focus and be pragmatic, to achieve the best results.
What role will advanced technologies (such as smart logistics, AI, robotics, blockchain) play in supply chain over the coming 12 months?
This is an interesting question, as nobody really knows what time will bring. In general, I am very interested in these topics. Some technologies have proven themselves; others are more hype, and don’t have really tangible results. My expectation is that we will see new developments on these topics by the leaders in the area. Other technologies will be used in more companies and become the new standard.
What part of your role as a supply chain manager keeps you awake at night?
No worries, this role is not keeping me awake at night . We live in very interesting times in general – that makes me enthusiastic and ambitious. In the end it’s “just” a profession. I am enjoying it and trying to make a difference.
How can supply chain managers best combat labour shortages, in the short- and long-term?
First of all, make sure to motivate and invest in your current workforce! Focus on strengths, empower people, give them real accountability and celebrate/reward team and individual success.
Next to that, the need to upscale the workforce: remove/minimise repetitive transaction tasks, (robotics) process automation, machine learning, EDI and continuous improvement methods. Get less dependent on your workforce. Invest in your recruitment strategy and also use successful new unconventional ways.
Why will you be speaking at Savant Supply Chain, and what do you hope to get out of the event?
First of all – I love these kind of events. They help me to stay on top of trends and to learn how others are dealing with similar challenges. The reason for speaking at the event is also to give something back to the audience and to share interesting insights from my end.
If Supply Chain Visibility and Digitalisation are topics you are fond of, check out our Supply Chain Congress in Amsterdam in May 2019. Savant Supply Chain brings together a special blend of supply chain leaders – from established companies, innovative startups, B2B and B2C players – that will push you to think laterally about your own supply chain processes.