Emerging career spotlight: Digital Supply Chain Manager
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of three guest posts by Kate Began of Polycase.
The increasing digitization of commerce has revolutionized global supply chains in all kinds of ways. Shipments can now be dispatched with the click of a button, sophisticated algorithms can automatically route truckers around traffic jams, and goods can be imported and exported more quickly and easily than ever.
To handle all of those big changes and ensure that today’s supply chains keep up with the times, a new career has been born: the digital supply chain manager. This relatively new career is taking off fast. So, what’s it all about? Today, we’ll talk about what a career as a digital supply chain manager entails, how to enter this in-demand field, and even why some supply chain management jobs may be totally different from what you expect.
What exactly does a digital supply chain manager do?
Digital supply chain managers are responsible for helping businesses implement the tools of 21st-century logistics in their supply chains. It’s all about keeping one foot in the bold new frontiers of the digital world and one foot in classic business acumen. The goal? Breaking down walls and silos, and creating a more efficient and integrated process.
The job of a digital supply chain manager usually includes tasks such as:
- Using predictive analytics tools and automated replenishment to more effectively meet businesses’ inventory needs
- Managing the operation and implementation of software systems such as ERP suites and digital logistics platforms
- Helping businesses integrate their eCommerce platforms with their operations on the ground
- Deploying IoT devices and automation in innovative and cost-effective ways digital supply chain management jobs may be totally different from what you expect.
- Analyzing data collection practices and finding new ways to collect the data that matters
- Ensuring that all elements of the supply chain, both physical and digital, are secured appropriately
- Devising and implementing strategies for continually improving supply chain technologies and evaluating the latest technological trends
As the digital supply chain continues to evolve, the digital supply chain manager’s duties will continue to do so as well. It’s a career that requires a commitment to rolling with the punches and continually improving one’s own skills.
What kind of qualifications does someone need today to get a job as a digital supply chain manager?
- Education: At a minimum, you’ll probably need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, preferably in a subject like supply chain management, business, statistics, or information technology. Of course, a higher degree like an MBA can only help a candidate’s chances.
- Skills: A digital supply chain manager needs to have a working knowledge of key digital logistics tools such as demand forecasting software, trucker load boards, route planning software and major ERP software suites. But it’s important to remember that a good digital logistics manager’s skills don’t live inside the plastic enclosure of any of their many devices. At the end of the day, it comes down to a candidate’s ability to plan, prioritize and forge meaningful connections with other stakeholders.
- Experience: Entry-level jobs in the digital supply chain management field often include jobs such as logistics analysis, customer service, procurement coordinators, and buyers. Digital supply chain management is a field in which experience and skills are king, so someone with a long history of success in the field may be a competitive candidate even without an advanced degree.
With supply chains expanding and digitizing every day, the job market outlook for digital supply chain managers is fairly strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts job growth of 5 percent (or about as fast as an average career path) for logisticians of all kinds, but there’s good reason to think that digital supply chain management will be a fast-growing subset of that career.
That’s because, as eCommerce continues to create the new realities of the market, the BLS also predicts continued strong growth in all kinds of industries adjacent to eCommerce. And as businesses attempt to compete (or work alongside) eCom behemoths like Amazon and Walmart, the demand for logistics professionals who can navigate the digital supply chain is likely to remain high.
How about average salaries and income? According to BLS data, the average logistician earns around $75,000 per year, which already isn’t too shabby. However, considering the high demand for digital and software skills, digital supply chain managers are likely to earn toward the higher end of the pay scale for their field. And for candidates whose skills include the back-end aspects of software development, the opportunities can be even greater.
The other kind
Depending on who you’re talking to, the phrase “digital supply chain manager” can also refer to a totally different career. The other kind of digital supply chain manager works to coordinate the many aspects of delivering a digital product or service to the consumer.
Think about it: Any app or service that you use goes through a multitude of layers of other software and Web services. From Amazon Web Services to WordPress to cloud security software, this new “digital supply chain” is an essential part of 21st-century commerce. Making sure that every step of the chain is secure and functional is a big job that requires a lot of big-picture thinking and familiarity with a huge variety of technologies.
This kind of digital supply chain management is much more software-focused and can often be done remotely. Essential qualifications skew much more toward the technical side, with degrees and experience in full-stack development, software engineering, computer science, and information technology all offering relevant knowledge.
For those seeking the careers of tomorrow, digital supply chain management is almost certain to have its place among the most critical jobs. Its combination of logistics and sophisticated computer skills isn’t for everyone—but it’s definitely a promising career for those who find that it calls to them.
Kate Began serves as the Sales and Marketing Manager for Polycase. She oversees the customer service representatives, assists with product development, and leads the marketing efforts from the Avon, Ohio headquarters. Kate is also an avid Cleveland Indians fan!