Gartner: Gen Z driving automation in supply chain
Generation Z will pick up the baton of automation and make today’s digital transformation efforts in supply chain the new normal, according to Gartner.
While current supply chain managers experiment and hone the position of digital in the supply chain, it will be the new wave of workers who truly exploit the technology. Despite only entering the workforce in past several years, Generation Z is already making an impact, says the consultancy firm.
Gen Z, the generation born after millennials roughly between 1997 and 2012, will drive supply chains towards what it calls hyperautomation, a coalescence of technologies and techniques, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and robotic process automation (RPA), to rapidly identify, research and automate business processes that currently require human intervention.
“This generation has grown up with digital technologies, so today’s supply chain leaders expect them to be innovators that accelerate supply chain digitalisation and pave the way towards hyperautomation,” says Pierfrancesco Manenti, Vice President Analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice.
Five year vision
The coming five years will be a turning point in adoption and usage of hyperautomation solutions in supply chain, says Manenti, a period that coincides with greater numbers of Gen Z entering the workforce and, as they develop, moving towards becoming leaders in the field.
A recent Orange Business Services study corroborates this view, finding that while only 42% of companies have already increased their level of automation, 80% acknowledge that automation is vital to empowering both internal employees and partners today and in the future.
As such, organisations should be altering their mindset and “preparing the ground for the next level,” says Manenti. Supply chain leaders should be proactively attracting Gen Z talent, taking the following three steps into account when designing strategy and future roadmaps.
Identify all repetitive tasks where humans can add no value. RPA is the primary technology here, automating everything from procure-to-pay to customer claim management.
Technology that enhances the ingenuity and expertise of human workers will play a major role in the supply chains of the next 10 years. Unlike complete automation, these technologies perform tasks such as scanning huge data sets, which is impossible - or highly impractical - for people to complete on their own. Crucially this technology will peak as Gen Z begin to enter leadership roles.
“All of the supply chain leaders we interviewed agree that, at some point beyond 2030, a large majority of their supply chain activities will most likely become autonomous and self-healing,” says Manenti. This transition will fully free humans to pile their expertise into defining the strategy, shepherding AI and ML systems, and increasing the experience for both employees and customers - a human pursuit that AI is yet to infiltrate.
Grupo Espinosa: 70 years of constant evolution
Founded in 1952, Grupo Espinosa has been relentlessly supporting the publishing industry with producing more than 100 million copies every year – whether its books, magazines, catalogues or single-order custom prints. No project is big or small for Grupo Espinosa, as the facility can scale up on demand and their turnaround times are highly competitive. Grupo Espinosa works with on-demand digital press or offset press, in paperback with glued softcover binding, PUR softcover binding, stitched paperback binding, binder’s board, hardcover, saddle stitched, Spiral or Wire-O. Equipped with the experience needed for a product to leave the plant ready for distribution, Grupo Espinosa delivers anywhere inside or outside Mexico. Traditionally starting off as a black and white printing press, Grupo Espinosa has experienced transformation first hand – from colour to digital offset printing. Currently, Grupo Espinosa is also looking at making capital investments into audio books to match with the increasing demand.
So how did a seemingly local operation in Latin America become a world-renowned printing facility trusted by hundreds of clients? As Rogelio Tirado, CFO of Grupo Espinosa for the last six years says “It all comes down to our market experience and our dedication to quality”. With nearly 70 years behind them, and located in Mexico City, Grupo Espinosa has two major locations – one spanning 75,000 square metres and the other about 45,000 square metres. Both locations are controlled by a single ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system ensuring speed, consistency and quality of work. Tirado says this isn’t their only competitive advantage. He adds “Our competitive advantage is the relationship we have with customers and the trust they put in us with their intellectual property”. Speaking of trust, global publishing giant Macmillan Education exclusively partners with Grupo Espinosa for their Latin America operations, as part of Macmillan’s decentralized hub strategy. Having a facility that offered the full spectrum of service – from storing digital content to printing and distributing – was one of the major requirements for Macmillan, and Grupo Espinosa was recognized as the leading printing hub for providing this 360 infrastructure. Another factor that has led to success for Grupo Espinosa is the absolute focus on quality and time. The staff are committed to providing the best quality in the best possible time, without causing wastage of resources. Sustainability is a huge factor playing into Grupo Espinosa’s operations, and they’ve created a healthy environment with the sustainable use of paper and energy resources as well as keeping their employees – most of them associated with the organisation for over 10 years – happy. He adds, “In order to be truly successful, you need to be good to the environment, employees, suppliers, and your customers. But most importantly, you need to be sustainable, you need to have proper working conditions, pay proper salaries, proper prices for paper, source the paper from sustainable sources, pay your taxes, basically be a good global corporate citizen and that's probably one of the biggest achievements that we have.”