Technology Alone Can’t Solve Supply Chain Productivity Declines: Gartner

Jennifer Guhl
Contributing Writer
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Record low levels of labor productivity could damper the impact of advanced supply chain-based technologies like AI and smart robotics, according to findings shared by Gartner.

Gartner surveyed 2,613 supply chain employees for their Global Labor Market Survey to better understand the supply chain’s labor productivity challenges. Their study found that 25% of their supply chain workforce is fully engaged with their work while only 16% is willing to go “above and beyond” in their work.

“Supply chain leaders must remember that these new technologies require the partnership of an engaged and productive workforce for these gains to be realized. Unfortunately, the data tells a discouraging story on this front,” said Thomas Pocock, senior director, advisory for Gartner’s supply chain practice.

With turnover in supply chain labor 33% higher than pre-pandemic levels, Pocock detailed that technology is only a part of a series of strategies Gartner is examining to reverse the productivity slide but can’t be the main focus.

"Introducing new technologies, especially of the magnitude of AI or smart robots, would come with implementation challenges at any time,” said Pocock. “Any new technology introduced in this environment is likely to be met with elevated levels of mistrust and change fatigue. It’s clear there needs to be a new strategy to make such integrations work for all sides.”

Recommendations were made in three key areas: individual talent management, integrating technology and people strategies, and organizational design. These changes consider investing in new technology improvements while focusing on its relationship with workers, capitalizing on the organization’s existing workforce, and creating more efficient organizational structures and practices.

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