Hiring members of the “Z” generation may be one of the best strategies for developing digitalized, hyperautomated supply chains, according to a Gartner study released this week.
Today’s evolution toward autonomous supply chains coincides with the professional rise of Generation Z—those born between 1997 and 2012, who have grown up with digital technologies and may be best poised to accelerate that transformation. Attracting and hiring those workers can maximize a company’s ability to transform and “hyperautomate” their supply chains, the research shows.
“[The] oldest Gen Zers have just started their careers. In 10 years, they’ll be supply chain managers,” according to Pierfrancesco Manenti, vice president analyst with Gartner’s Supply Chain practice. “This generation has grown up with digital technologies, so today’s supply chain leaders expect them to be innovators that accelerate supply chain digitalization and pave the way toward hyperautomation.”
Gartner defines hyperautomation as “the approach that organizations use to rapidly identify, vet, and automate business processes that originally required some form of human judgement or action.” They say hyperautomation involves a combination of technologies that include robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI), among others.
Recruiting Gen Z can help accelerate that process.
“Over the next five years, supply chain leaders will roll out more coordinated and impactful RPA initiatives, as the technology is maturing very rapidly, and we’ll see mainstream adoption,” Manenti said. “This is also the phase where more members of Gen Z enter the supply chain workforce, changing the employees’ mindset and preparing the ground for the next level.”
Next levels include adding new technologies as they mature, such as machine learning, which will help augment human judgment and supply chain decision making. Autonomy is the ultimate goal, reached when all human low-value activities in the supply chain will be largely automated.
“This future supply chain will have minimal direct human involvement and interference from a traditional work perspective, which will suit the expectations of Gen Z employees,” the researchers wrote. “Supply chain employees will focus their efforts on tasks such as defining the supply chain strategy, driving innovation, taking care of customer service and experience, and controlling AI data from being biased.”