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Embracing Supply Chain 5.0 for Navigating the Future

Captain Jatin Sharma, the Director of Strategy and Solution Design at Aetos, brings a wealth of experience as a supply chain leader. He has dedicated decades to constructing and executing supply chain and logistics solutions within the SMB segment. Drawing from his background as a former officer in the Indian Army, Capt. Sharma emerges as a distinguished thought leader in the realm of supply chain excellence.

During a compelling conversation with The Interview World at SEEDS 2023, an event collaboratively organized by Jaipuria Institute of Management and Middlesex University Dubai, Capt. Sharma delves into the industry’s preparedness for embracing Supply Chain 5.0. He accents the gradual integration of supply chain technology into India’s infrastructure, emphasizing the importance of human elements for sustainable success. The following excerpts provide a glimpse into the valuable insights he shared during the interview.

Q: What is the readiness of Indian manufacturing and retail companies to utilize platforms like Supply Chain 5.0?

A: Fascinatingly, unlocking the full potential of a platform hinges on specific prerequisites. At the forefront is the need for a robust infrastructure, demanding significant investment. Equally pivotal are the skilled individuals managing this infrastructure, utilizing specific technologies.

Currently, we find ourselves in a favorable position, especially in the context of SMEs—a significant contributor to our GDP. These businesses are eager to invest capital, provided they witness a satisfactory ROI and swift returns for their efforts.

For these enterprises, the primary concern revolves around comprehending the source of the anticipated ROI. Unlike about 15 years ago, when technology sales pitches focused on reducing workforce size, today’s emphasis is on gaining a competitive edge. The crucial message is conveying to businesses that the adoption of specific technology will boost expansion and top-line growth.

Interestingly, bottom-line efficiency has shifted down the priority list. Encouraging investment in cutting-edge technologies like Supply Chain 5.0 requires showcasing how these advancements will not only enhance efficiency but also drive ROI. Eventually, these initiatives will contribute to overall business success.

Q: How do you envision the integration of Supply Chain 5.0 technology in India’s infrastructure, considering the existing limitations in our public infrastructure?

A: I envision the incorporation of technology into our processes as a gradual journey, rather than an immediate and complete adoption. This transformative shift encompasses both short-term and long-term considerations, involving both the tangible and intangible aspects of the process.

Establishing the necessary technological infrastructure is a time-consuming endeavor, but it is equally crucial to prioritize the softer aspects. This includes cultivating the skills and mindset required to effectively operate the infrastructure.

I often stress to individuals that acquiring technology is the easy part. The real challenge lies in establishing a consistent and habitual usage of it. Furthermore, this challenge is not exclusive to corporate and academic settings but extends to a broader scale, including government involvement.

While progress has been made, particularly in developing the required infrastructure, there is still a significant distance to cover. The technology adoption must become ingrained in our ethos, akin to the fundamental principles instilled in institutions like the military. Drawing from my experience in the Army, where the commitment to “service before self” is foundational, I am confident that similar principles can be applied to the adoption of technology.

As investments in hardware and infrastructure are underway, it is essential to concurrently invest in the human element. Having the right people with the skills to leverage technology is paramount. Despite the evident short-term challenges, especially in addressing the employee activation mismatch, the real benefits will materialize in the long term. Patience and a holistic approach that combines both technological and human elements are key to overcoming these challenges and reaping the rewards of technological integration.

Q: What would be the impact on the employability of people within the organization when transitioning towards high-end automation in the supply chain network?

A: Addressing the significant challenges, we face in implementing software within organizations is crucial. The inertia present in these settings is quite substantial, hindering even the simplest software deployments. When attempting to introduce a basic software solution, the expected four-week implementation often balloons into an arduous 40-week process. This predicament is particularly pronounced in smaller and midsize enterprises. Because the absorption and understanding of these technologies prove to be a daunting task.

Larger companies like IBM and Microsoft may find it manageable to discuss and implement such solutions due to their high-level grasping capabilities. However, the scenario drastically changes for smaller and midsize enterprises. The adoption of advanced technologies becomes a nightmarish endeavor, prompting the need for a hands-on approach from all levels of the organization.

Q: How can these supply chain challenges be addressed?

A: In the current landscape, the senior management holds a pivotal role. Mandates from promoters and senior executives directing the adoption of Industry 5.0, DMS, and WMS are insufficient if not met with active involvement from everyone within the organization. Merely expecting these initiatives to fall into place is unrealistic; it requires a collective effort from all hands-on deck.

Resolving this intricate challenge demands a multi-faceted approach. Firstly, internal efforts within the organization must address the employees’ integration into the proposed changes. Secondly, a broader collaboration involving academic institutions, government bodies, and skill development centers is essential. Only through a collective effort can we hope to overcome these obstacles and ensure the successful implementation of transformative technologies. The collaboration of various stakeholders, spanning from the organization itself to the broader ecosystem, is imperative for the effective execution. Otherwise, the formidable challenges at hand will persist, and the desired outcomes will remain elusive.

Supply Chain 5.0
Supply Chain 5.0
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