You don’t need to get far on Google to find stories about how technology is creating seismic shifts for industries around the world. Whether it is entrenched in consumerism or business operations, one factor remains unchanged – at the core of its impact are people. The Australian and New Zealand food and beverage (F&B) industries are clear examples. Not just in terms of how technology has revolutionized the way products are made and shifted throughout the supply chain but also in terms of what the future of human work will look like, as technology becomes a more prominent feature in the workplace.
If we look back 10-20 years ago, we couldn’t have imagined the variety of fresh produce and healthy pre-packaged meals we’re now accustomed to seeing. Likewise, back then, ERP didn’t play much of a role in streamlining and efficiently managing supply chains. The software has become more integrated, easier to use, it now has interchangeable modules, open architecture and cross-platform usability, which makes collecting and analyzing real-time data easier.
Technology as a Game Changer
The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Employment Outlook 2019, The Future of Work report says this era where rapid digitalization causes disruption, sees new technologies become ‘game changers’. The report estimates 14 percent of existing jobs could disappear over the next 15 to 20 years, and 32 percent are likely to change radically. Among the OECD’s 34-member countries Australia has one of the highest rates of casual workers and has had one of the largest increases in underemployment across OECD countries since 2007. In New Zealand, an estimated 33% of manufacturing jobs are at high risk of automation or significant change. Whilst the report states technology displaces workers, historically long term changes have been positive as there are various channels through which technology may boost employment. However, a large portion of adults will need to upskill or retrain to meet the needs of future jobs as automation becomes more common.
As with all challenges come opportunities, and the manufacturing sector needs to understand where the issues lie and how these can be converted to commercial opportunities that innovate, disrupt or diversify an enterprise and the sector. Of course, this involves people that will develop new technologies and create new products, leading to new revenue streams.
Making Meaningful Use of Data
To meet supply and demand in any industry, we need people throughout the supply chain to oversee the processes and ensure manufacturers are delivering to growing consumer demands – both domestic and globally.
Machines don’t have the creativity and type of intellectual capacity required to develop new ideas and technologies, to interpret data from automated systems and ensure they’re continuing to allow better efficiencies for manufacturers. Humans are needed to fill these roles. The changing landscape of data-creating software requires people to make meaningful use of that data, whether they are an accountant, in HR, a compliance officer or even a mechanic (to name a few).
ERP as a Business Enabler
The adoption of automation within the manufacturing sector provides opportunities of which a growing business will need a growing workforce to sustain customer satisfaction. Throughout this process, ERP functions as a shadow following the business journey. It is closely aligned to accurately track processes in real-time, enabling businesses to respond to market conditions faster, allow for better traceability, which not only results in better customer service but helps manufacturers gain a competitive advantage through better systems.
As the OECD report demonstrates, history has shown us that technology has helped us and created new offshoots and opportunities for the industry. Humans drive the demand and we’re also needed to manage the supply. The continuous loop that is based on catering to changing consumer habits means the future of work must stay ahead of such changing consumer trends.
People will always remain at the core of this and there will always be new opportunities and jobs which will help industry change in a positive way.