Ron Castro, VP of IBM Supply Chain, has told young professionals in supply chain jobs that, to become the leaders of an AI-enabled future, they must be up-to-date with the latest technological developments in the procurement industry.

Castro and the team he heads have energetically embraced emerging technologies, from AI, machine learning and the IoT technology to blockchain, 3D-printing and virtual reality.

Speaking to Procurious, Castro explained that human-machine interaction always yields better answers than human alone or machine alone. Currently, his premium supply chain experts are training Watson, an AI system that is now learning in real-time to pinpoint issues, forecast problems and propose courses of action as a trusted adviser.

IBM, he said, is getting optimal value from its capabilities by stacking technologies together. That means that everyone occupying supply chain jobs there, from permanent staff to supply chain interims, has to understand this technology and how to leverage its potential.

Yet as Castro notes, the tech industry is changing from one moment to the next. As far as this concerns professionals in supply chain jobs, his emphasis is on building an organisational culture that’s ready to leverage emerging digital innovations and keep everyone focused on acquiring tomorrow’s skill today.

Some of the fundamental skills for future supply chain leaders remain as they always were. Leaders still need perseverance and a capacity for global, holistic and horizontal thinking, while fostering a culture of constant feedback and continual enhancement and advance.

But they also need a deep understanding of emerging technologies and an ability to detect new trends. Tech disruptions are in the pipeline, he warns, and they’re going to strike faster than ever: reacting swiftly to them is now an essential attribute.

He concludes: “The machine-human interaction will continue to increase and all these technologies will continue to become even more critical in supply chain.”

Tech-savvy candidates that are familiar with these digital innovations will be keenly sought after by employers and their supply chain recruitment agencies alike.

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