The Human Touch in Supply Chain and WMS: How a Dedicated Team Makes a Difference
In 2023, AI has been the talk of the town. Conversations about whether machines can really replace the human workforce, and to which degree, have popped up left and right. Supply chain, and warehouse management specifically, have been in the middle of this argument as well. Constantly digitalized and transformed through automation, this industry is riddled with robotics, RPA, and who could ever forget autonomous trucks... Amidst all of that, do we really still need the human touch? Here’s what the Innovecs experts had to say on the matter.
VITALY NGUYEN, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT REPRESENTATIVE
In my opinion, there are certain aspects of my job that could never be fully replaced by AI. One such aspect is the ability to build and nurture genuine relationships with clients and colleagues. While technology can assist with data analysis and recommendations, it lacks the emotional intelligence and empathy required to truly understand and connect with people. Establishing trust, navigating complex interpersonal dynamics, and providing emotional support in times of uncertainty are all areas where the human touch is indispensable.
The perfect balance between a human-centric approach and digitalization in the supply chain is a delicate one. I believe it’s appropriate to lean into each approach depending on the specific context. Human-centric aspects like relationship management, strategic decision-making, and creative problem-solving are crucial when dealing with complex, unique, or unexpected challenges. On the other hand, digitalization and technology are invaluable for optimizing routine tasks, increasing efficiency, and processing vast amounts of data quickly.
The ratio of human to technological involvement in the supply chain is likely to change in the future, with an increasing reliance on technology for routine tasks and data analysis. However, humans will continue to play a vital role in managing exceptions, adapting to new situations, and making strategic decisions that take into account broader business goals and social factors.
Regarding Warehouse Management System
Human touch is like the secret sauce in crafting a stellar WMS solution. While technology lays the foundation, it’s the human element that brings understanding, adaptability, and intuition to the table. Whether it’s fine-tuning user interfaces for optimal experience or tailoring functionalities to real-world workflow nuances, the human touch ensures that the WMS isn’t just efficient but also seamlessly integrates into the unique needs of its users. It’s the bridge between cutting-edge technology and the intricacies of human operations.
ANTON SHASHUK, DELIVERY MANAGER
Supply chain, logistics, and warehouse management are all about human relations, and that is where human touch becomes incredibly important. My job is based on the knowledge of customer needs and demands high levels of understanding of each individual team member and stakeholder. Granted, right now even this interpersonal type of work finds itself in the middle of “can it be replaced by technology?” discussion. Technically, it can, but then the real question is whether the people on the other side of the dialogue will prefer a robot or a human that is quicker at reading various social cues and grasping the full context of conversation. According to Userlike, “at least 60% of respondents answered that they would prefer to wait in a queue if it meant they could immediately speak with a human agent”.
Today even AI requires a level of supervision, so the technology meant to reduce the need for human labor still needs that human touch to function. The idea of a self-driving car has been a hot topic for years now, but it hasn’t quite gotten to the level of safety that a conscious driver can provide, despite the millions and billions that fund this research. Although I think we will see more and more automation in supply chain and logistics as the public awareness of these types of solutions is growing.
It’s a huge challenge for the industry to catch up to this fast pace of digitalization, while remaining humane and human-reliant. I anticipate this search for balance to dominate the next several years of the industry, but I also think that certain areas, like customer relations, are bound to stay relatively unaffected. In my line of work, a lot of factors come into play for customer success, including the emotional intelligence necessary to navigate your client’s moods, choosing the right moments for right words, or even the amount of information to disclose at each specific stage. I have yet to see technology that would be able to replicate this.
On the Subject of WMS
In the early stages of developing a WMS, it’s essential to connect with real people. Software developers, project managers, and other stakeholders need to get in touch with end-users and truly grasp their needs. This means having conversations, running surveys, and visiting the warehouses to understand the unique challenges and goals.
And let’s not forget that implementing a WMS often shakes up workflows and processes. That’s where the human touch really matters. It’s all about effective communication, training, and support to help users adjust to the new system.
In the intricate web of the supply chain and logistics industry, human touch transcends mere bare-bones efficiency. While technology has revolutionized this sector, the human understanding of societal attitudes remains irreplaceable in fostering connections, ensuring nuanced communication, and cultivating lasting relationships with partners and clients. Whether it’s the strategy and creativity mentioned by Vitaly, or the emotional intelligence lauded by Anton, the human touch serves as the linchpin that not only drives operational efficacy but also imbues the entire supply chain with a sense of human empathy.
Innovecs experts strive to maintain the balance of cutting-edge technology and human-centric consultation in our business practices. Are you looking to optimize your own warehouse management system? Our mailbox is a great place to start.