The Supply Chain Manager in the Digital Age

Ann Vereecke

By Ann Vereecke

Professor of Operations Management

Karlien Vanderheyden

By Karlien Vanderheyden

Professor of Organisational Behaviour

Alejandra Cabos Rodríguez

By Alejandra Cabos Rodríguez

Senior Researcher, Digital Transformation

Kris Van Steenberghe

Head of Transformation at bluecrux

20 May 2022

In our fast-changing world, our global and complex supply chains are facing unprecedented levels of disruption and volatility. At the same time, digitalisation is creating new opportunities that are fundamentally transforming how supply chains operate and interact.

The supply chain professional plays a crucial role in this dynamic context.

So, the Vlerick Centre for People in the Smart Digitised Supply Chain has joined forces with bluecrux to understand who fulfils this role, what their tasks are, and which skill sets they need in order to thrive, today and in the future.

It’s no surprise that supply chain professionals are multi-facetted: they like to analyse problems, increasingly enjoy working with others, surround themselves with others who have the right knowledge and expertise, consider plan-development crucial to their job, and they’re motivated by frequent innovation – as long as it is not too experimental.

Today’s supply chain professionals understand both the end-to-end supply chain and the business in general. They prioritise, set goals, and skilfully plan and organise to meet those goals – all while efficiently handling obstacles. Thanks to their ability to manage the unexpected, they are regarded as great managers.

Furthermore, they excel at analysing information and solving problems. As leaders, they motivate others to initiate action. And just as their customer-orientation is top-notch, so are their change management skills. This helps them to communicate and collaborate well with others. That’s crucial – the supply chain professional is well aware that expertise is spread over multiple people, departments, and companies.

Looking towards the future, supply chain functions are expected to become even more demanding, as technological competencies will be added on top of the current mix. Hence, it is rather unlikely that all these skills will be found in a single person, but rather in a well-balanced, complementary, and multidisciplinary supply chain team.

But how do you get there?

To bridge the skills gap, companies can build, buy and borrow capabilities – or even opt for other alternatives, such as automating and augmenting tasks, redeploying employees, and redesigning work.

Get in touch!

Alejandra Cabos Rodríguez

Alejandra Cabos Rodríguez

Senior Researcher