Will Tech Layoffs Benefit Supply Chains?
Large scale tech layoffs could lead to a solution to the supply chain talent shortage. Companies like Meta, Tesla, Coinbase, Robinhood, google, Microsoft and Amazon hacked portions of their workforce in efforts to address what many believe to be an economic downturn coming down the pike. A lot of these job losses were in the technology and software sector. It is estimated that 200,000 tech employees have been laid off in reduction of force measures since the beginning of 2022.
Meanwhile, supply chain organizations suffer from the opposite problem: not enough talent to handle a rapidly accelerating technology base. The question is: how much intersectionality exists between these two sectors that could find a mutually beneficial solution?
Rise of Tech and Automation in Supply Chain
As the calamities of 2020 approached, supply chain organizations were already using more technology and automation to streamline operations and increase efficiency. Outdated analog equipment catered to the employee cohort that was simultaneously aging out of the supply chain work force. This created a double whammy of a talent problem: a brain drain as boomers retired and an outdated and inefficient supply chain.
We all know what happened next. A Pandemic disrupted everything and brought logistics, operations, and manufacturing to a screeching halt. As often is the case, necessity became the mother of invention and advancement. Employers around the world found gaps in their logistics, manufacturing and operations sectors and began working quickly to perform gap analysis and design ways to mitigate profit and productivity loss. Much of these analyses revealed that increasing the use of technology and automation was necessary to prepare for disruptions in a realm as volatile as supply chain.
According to SCM Talent Group supply chain recruiters, employers they engage with have begun emphasizing more strategic skills over the operational and tactical. The “what if” questions are being used more to screen high level job candidates for their experience and abilities to problem solve on the fly. The supply chain discipline is no longer just moving product from one place to another and making sure shelves are stocked. It now requires a real-time understanding of complicated and sometimes algorithmic nuances of supply can demand, often layered with multiple contingencies spread across the globe.
Crunchbase estimates some 200,000 workers in the tech industry have lost their jobs. What does this mean for other employment sectors? Well, honestly, that’s hard to say. One thing can be reasonably certain is that technological advancements happen earlier in Silicon Valley. Clearly, that’s where they typically originate. High salaries are tied to the jobs that develop and initiate software and technology. These developments typically spread across and become industry standard in different operational sectors. For instance, a new logistics technology deployed by Coca-Cola was likely developed by a software engineer that doesn’t necessarily work for Coke. Another engineer knew of said software language’s capabilities and designed a way to apply this tech to supply chain logistics. Finding people who can use this new logistics tech is an entirely new problem that a lot of the supply chain is struggling with, which has led employers to engage more with specialized supply chain recruiters to solve their talent and hiring problems. Supply chain has typically not been deemed “early adopters” when it comes to tech. But that trend seems to be shifting, if even slightly.
Supply Chain Technology Trends
More and more companies are identifying supply chain as keys to their success and competitive edge. Importantly, they’re also recognizing the dangers of not paying close enough attention to supply chains. As this heightened awareness grows, so does the analysis of deficiencies. As we all know, disruptions are rampant in supply chain and contribute to a lot of profit loss. Technology has helped to reduce this loss and mitigate disruptive impacts.
According to recent studies, it is estimated that 49% of supply chain leaders are investing in heightened digital technologies to attempt to optimize their supply chains. However, along with this is a decreased availability of talent. The analog world offers more talent solutions than the niche emerging technology world. This creates a demand for software engineers, developers and other professionals who have a working knowledge of technology innovations being deployed to create and increase supply chain efficiency.
Intersection of Technology Talent And Need in Supply Chain
Can these tech layoffs fill bridge the supply chain talent gap? That’s the key question.
According to a recent Forbes article, more than 50% of supply chain employers didn’t know the real-time location of their suppliers prior to the Pandemic. This lack of visibility prevented adequate inventory knowledge which contributed to shortages. Being blind to shortages and overages can dramatically reduce profit margins and open a window for competitors to take over a market. Modern digital technologies are key to providing companies this window into their inventories. They also enhance efficiency and streamline operations with advanced algorithmic analysis.
Unionwear, often considered one of the leaders in domestic textile manufacturing, cited a study showing that more than 350,000 transport and manufacturing jobs were reshored in 2022. This could be mean that 2023 will bring about even more domestic supply chain jobs as employers further attempt to shorten supply chains to avoid disruptions while also reducing the cost associated with prohibitively long supply chains.
And now, tech layoffs have 200,000 out of work technology experts with working and experiential knowledge that could help. It is highly likely that many of these workers developed or helped develop some of the very technology being deployed across more companies’ supply chains. Will the availability of hundreds of thousands of new domestic supply chain jobs intersect with the 200,000 tech layoffs?
It stands to reason that the nexus between these two would be engineering, finance, transportation and logistics, as well as Enterprise Resource Planning and Warehouse Management Systems. Being able to create talent redundancies can also help to mitigate impacts of the “skill-loss” cycle plaguing a lot of supply chains. The heightened use of technology and software platforms often falls to a single key employee to manage. Hopefully this technology talent boom will provide relief in many of these sectors.
2023 is already off to a heckuva start with Big tech companies preparing for a tough year and supply chain companies trying to fill talent gaps. It is said that tech companies used to spend like rock stars but now they’re spending like senior citizens on a fixed budget. Is there an opportunity for supply chains to take advantage of the glut of available tech talent? Maybe. Supply chain isn’t for everyone. And the increased talent needs because of heightened technology usage isn’t necessarily going to be analogous – or appealing – to a lot of those newly unemployed folks who worked for technology companies. The supply chain talent shortage also is much broader than technology. The lack of front line, operational workers combined with an aging workforce simply adds to the talent challenges.