Staying ahead of becoming obsolete

When I started my MBA at BC, I remember looking at the Curriculum and thinking to myself: I will only attend the ISYS classes that I am obliged to and I will probably choose electives on soft skills, like Leadership. But that was in December 2019, before COVID hit and showed us how being tech savvy is imperative to survive the new normal – and here I am taking an elective that begins with ISYS.

I know too little about technology. I am not on social platforms other than LinkedIn and sometimes Amazon overwhelms me. The world, however, is moving towards more automated, analytical solutions and I cannot lag behind. I cannot let my fear of change obsolete me.

A year ago, I saw the following on LinkedIn, posted by the previous VP of supply chain that I used to report to:

That was a picture taken at “The Gartner Peer Forum”. It is adapted from Warren Bennis “The manufacturing of the future” quote. And I cannot think of anything more accurate to describe the future of my profession.

It makes me wonder: when planning, purchasing, manufacturing, order fulfillment and logistics are all automated – and the computer is doing a better job than I could ever do, what will be left for me in this field?

Well, it is actually very clear.

I will have to shift my attention from managing people doing repetitive tasks to focus on information flow. Doers will be replaced by analysts – and especially by those who feel comfortable making decisions based on data.

Technology is the future of supply chain and how we interact with the technology will determine our success.

I have seen a little bit of this happening in my previous job. We added bots in our computers that would read every single click we did to find patterns that could be performed automatically, creating efficiencies and allowing us to focus on what really matters. Needless to say, a lot of us firstly saw that initiative as a way to reduce headcount – which was absolutely not the end goal.

The intention was to merely free up time from the teams – so they could focus on the core of their activity: if a buyer, for instance, to maintain good relationship with the suppliers instead of clicking buttons in SAP.

So my expectation in this course is to open my mind to the unknown. It is to replace fear with excitement and adoption. It is to get a first flavor of what is out there in terms of technology and digitalization – so I can continue studying the field and adapting myself to the future of what I chose to do for a living.

I am still a little insecure by a lot of the deliverables for this term: I have not blogged since I was a teenager when I would spend hours in front of the computer figuring out what pink template I would use. I have not used Twitter since probably 2009 when people would use it to talk about their day – I did not see it evolving into this platform to be informed and share opinions as how it seems to be now. I do not even use Facebook anymore and Snapchat never really was my thing.

And all of this makes me wonder: when and why did I lose interest? Did I fear to be perceived as inadequate? Did I try to turn a blind eye to how the world is evolving, using the excuse that I am too busy?

We have seen “empires” crumble because of resistance to surf the technology wave: Blockbuster and Kodak are just the most notable examples. If empires failed, what makes me believe I can ignore the future? I have a lot to catch-up. I have a lot to learn in this class. I am so old school that I got anxiety when I did not see a syllabus in pdf.

So my initial expectation is to change. It is to embrace emerging technologies and digital businesses. It is to learn and apply these learnings in my career. It is to stay ahead of becoming obsolete.

3 comments

  1. That is a GREAT summary of what this class is geared to do. I think you’re in the right place.

    1. It will be a long journey of learning but I am glad I chose this class!

  2. Scott Siegler · ·

    I can relate to so many of these feelings. Just like how you mentioned you will no longer be managing people doing repetitive tasks, it’s really cool to think about the things that technology can free us up to focus on. I feel like is how innovation will perpetuate – as technology frees up people to spend more time thinking creatively and strategically.

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