The extent to which companies in Singapore embrace new innovative technologies – including blockchain, robotic process automation and cloud-based applications – will play an important part in their development and progression. That is the view of Wouter Jaarsma, procurement and supply chain recruiting manager at Hays Singapore.
“In procurement and supply chain many companies want to transform their organisations through the digitalisation trend they see throughout the global market,” he says. “With these new technologies becoming of greater importance, there is a growth in demand for candidates who understand the technology and how it can be optimised in order to make the supply chain more efficient. Locating these candidates in Asia will be critical in the coming years.”
Of these new technologies, the one having the greatest impact is blockchain thanks to its ability to make transactions more cost efficient in planning, as well as increasing visibility.
“With FMCG companies operating on both business-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer levels, making these transactions – including both the transferral of goods and any monetary payments – as visible as possible is key,” says Wouter. “This is the key problem for big logistics companies, and any technology that can solve this issue whilst improving understanding of market demands will be crucial.”
However, due to the relative newness of the technological advances, companies are being hindered by stumbling blocks in two key areas: there are a limited number of candidates with the requisite digital experience, and most companies are unsure as to what skills they actually require.
“With the likes of blockchain, most companies know that it can help them, in principle. However, they are struggling with how to use it and even with what it is, so they really need candidates who can bring software experience and guide them in its implementation,” explains Wouter. “To resolve this, some companies are looking outside of the procurement and supply chain sectors to industries in which these technologies are more commonplace, such as the tech and big data-heavy aerospace industry. After locating candidates from these areas, they are utilising their knowledge and transferrable skills to improve operations.”
Due to the disruptive nature of these new technological advancements, all levels of the industry are being shaken up, meaning that candidates are required from the top down.
“Companies where this is a totally new development are looking for experienced senior managers to create departments to be built around them. For these roles organisations are looking for individuals with a strong degree, superlative people management skills, a history of good progression at big industry names, regional exposure and a track record of implementing cost saving projects,” Wouter says. “However, companies that are simply developing their big data departments are looking for junior analysts who can support managers with the right information.”
No matter the level, it is vital that candidates continue to evolve their knowledge in the new technologies. While procurement and supply chain candidates have a history of self-development, there is a suspicion that they are perhaps going about it the wrong way.
“Most candidates, particularly at the higher levels, have a tendency towards supplementing their degrees with an MBA, and while it is a nice qualification to have, it is far too generic. I believe that it is wiser to instead pursue more specific courses, such as those that help with understanding these new technologies, how they are going to affect the industry and how you can implement them,” Wouter notes.“Also, attending conferences and networking events on these hot topics, last mile delivery, and how ecommerce is evolving, is a great way to broaden your knowledge.”
In these ways candidates can set themselves apart from the rest, and companies looking to steal a march on the competition will be keen to use this knowledge and experience in order to grow.