By Dave Kipe, SVP, Global Operations, Scholastic Inc.
“Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them.” – Steve Jobs
We live in an amazing era of technology-driven transformation that’s redefining how we sell, market, communicate, collaborate, innovate, train, and educate—all in an amazingly short period of time. Supply Chain, although a relatively late entrant to the technological revolution has whole-heartedly embraced and realized the limitless benefits from adoption. From automation to mechanization, the supply chain profession is now at the forefront of the high-tech, big-data movement. We even gave it a fresh, new name; the digital supply chain.
Despite the plenitude of new technology and innovation (and possibly amplified by it); the human factor is more important for business success than ever before. Many organizations eagerly rush to invest in the latest technology and systems. They hastily seek and adopt the latest high-tech trends, from IoT, to 3D-Printing, to Block-Chain analytics. They expect utopia; but instead fall short because they neglected the most important and indispensable ingredient to this recipe; people. Until artificial intelligence and advanced robotics nullifies the essential need for human engagement, people are indispensable. Technology alone is not enough. A successful organization must learn to both leverage technology to enable its employees, and enable its employees to leverage technology.
" A successful organization must learn to both leverage technology to enable its employees, and enable its employees to leverage technology "
In my opinion, the most important new development in the realm of technology is not technological at all—it is an upgraded version of your workforce.
In the past, businesses recruited and hired employees based on a relevant skill. The logic made sense: If you want a job done right, hire a person who knows how to do it. This approach worked well when the likelihood of some technology coming along and disrupting the nature of the position was fairly low. Traditionally, such changes might only occur once or twice in a person’s career.
In today’s world of constant digital transformation, however, that philosophy has been less successful because it is so limiting. To hire one person for one particular skill is a risky approach, since other technological advances could come along and that one skill may become obsolete in the near future.
Businesses that hire multifaceted, agile employees who can quickly adapt to new technologies and circumstances are the ones that position themselves as leaders in their industries. Technology may be the driving force behind the shifting face of industry, but it’s how your employees respond that will make—or break—the future of your business. For technology to be applied successfully, it has to interface with business structures, culture and people. The best asset for any business to have is people who can quickly and insightfully interpret the data that technology provides, and use it to make smart decisions.
Technology is a differentiator and a refusal to embrace it, will leave your business in a perilous and disadvantageous position. However, technology alone is not the golden ticket. Its material benefits are realized and optimized when applied to enabling your people. It was true before the industrial revolution and still true during the digital revolution; your employees are the lifeblood and heart of your company and inarguably, your company’s greatest asset.