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Education and Industry: An Ecosystem Mindset

Education is an important tool to address manufacturing challenges; however, in both industry and education, one thing is for certain, the old way of doing business just isn’t going to cut it.

By Dana A. Magliola

It’s not breaking news that the global business landscape is changing rapidly, nor is it a revelation that ever-increasing customer expectations and shifting business models are driving change across nearly every industry. For manufacturers, especially, these headwinds are compounded by three key challenges: the imperative of supply chain digitization, major demographic shifts in the workforce, and a widening skills gap in the labor pool.

Education is an important tool to address these challenges; however, in both industry and education, one thing is for certain, the old way of doing business just isn’t going to cut it. If industry is to realize the benefits of digitization/Industry 4.0, companies must adopt new technologies, respond quickly to disruption, and work closely with every element of their supply chain to innovate. Similarly, education must also adopt a new perspective—one that is integrated, collaborative and pragmatic—to successfully address the labor challenges and talent demands of industry. Both must embrace a mindset that reflects the ecosystem of the next-generation supply chain.

The future is here

There is growing momentum in industry to harness the potential of new technologies and digitization within the supply chain. According to the 2017 MHI Annual Industry Report produced by MHI and Deloitte, 80 percent of more than 1,000 manufacturing and supply chain industry leaders surveyed recognize digital supply chain management as the future of industry.1 From robotics and automation to IoT to more complex use of data and analytics, technology solutions will be the vanguard of progress and companies must begin to integrate them into their business operations and strategic planning. For global transportation and logistics provider DHL’s Klaus Dohrmann, digitization “is critical for numerous reasons and offers many benefits, including collaboration, better planning, improved efficiency, and shorter response times which will ultimately help to drive better business and meet customer demand.”2

An ecosystem mindset is inherent to a digital supply chain management platform. To be better prepared to handle the fluid landscape of modern manufacturing, companies must recognize that relationships and communications within their ecosystem offer both advanced warning of disruption, and a dynamic tool for mitigation. Deloitte analyst Eamonn Kelly articulates the rising importance of this worldview, “Ecosystems thinking provides a new frame that captures a profound shift in the economy. The importance of relationships, partnerships, networks, alliances, and collaborations is obviously not novel—but it is growing.”

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The Q2 2018 issue of MHI Solutions focuses on the supply chain workforce, including finding, retaining and unleashing the talent that is out there. To tackle the growing challenge of securing the right talent to effectively implement new technologies, firms must collaborate with industry associations, universities and career and technical education programs to develop the next generation supply chain workforce. This workforce will look very different as supply chains increasingly require purple people—those with business acumen (blue) and technical (red) skills—to leverage digital technologies and take full advantage of the business opportunities they offer.

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