6502403574415UCD Supply Chain Consultancy Report
00UCD Supply Chain Consultancy Report
432054022860006787954964061Advising Dell EMC on the Skills for the Future Workforce
00Advising Dell EMC on the Skills for the Future Workforce
Table of Contents
TOC o “1-3” h z u Executive Summary PAGEREF _Toc520184780 h 5Introduction PAGEREF _Toc520184781 h 61. Company Background PAGEREF _Toc520184782 h 71.1 Dell EMC Planning Team Operations PAGEREF _Toc520184783 h 72. Project Scope PAGEREF _Toc520184784 h 82.1 Conceptual Framework PAGEREF _Toc520184785 h 83. Business Environment PAGEREF _Toc520184786 h 103.1 External Environment PAGEREF _Toc520184787 h 103.2 Globalisation PAGEREF _Toc520184788 h 113.3 Supply Chain Management PAGEREF _Toc520184789 h 123.4 Internal Environment PAGEREF _Toc520184790 h 143.5 Employment Skills PAGEREF _Toc520184791 h 153.6 Workforce of the Future PAGEREF _Toc520184792 h 164. Interviews PAGEREF _Toc520184793 h 195. Competitor and Industry Analysis PAGEREF _Toc520184794 h 205.1 Competitor Analysis PAGEREF _Toc520184795 h 205.1.1 Lenovo PAGEREF _Toc520184796 h 205.1.2 Hewlett-Packard PAGEREF _Toc520184797 h 215.2 Industry Analysis PAGEREF _Toc520184798 h 235.2.1 Retail Industry PAGEREF _Toc520184799 h 245.2.2 Transportation Sector PAGEREF _Toc520184800 h 256. Regional versus Global Operations PAGEREF _Toc520184801 h 276.1 Disadvantages of Global Operations PAGEREF _Toc520184802 h 276.2 Advantages of Global Operations PAGEREF _Toc520184803 h 287. Recommendations PAGEREF _Toc520184804 h 297.1 Future Skills Set PAGEREF _Toc520184805 h 297.1.1 Interpersonal Skills PAGEREF _Toc520184806 h 307.1.2 Cognitive Skills PAGEREF _Toc520184807 h 327.1.3 Communication Skills PAGEREF _Toc520184808 h 357.1.4 Functional Skills PAGEREF _Toc520184809 h 367.2 Lifelong Learning PAGEREF _Toc520184810 h 387.3 Global Operations PAGEREF _Toc520184811 h 397.3.1 Global integration – local responsiveness PAGEREF _Toc520184812 h 397.3.2 Skills for global teams PAGEREF _Toc520184813 h 40Conclusions PAGEREF _Toc520184814 h 43References PAGEREF _Toc520184815 h 44Appendix PAGEREF _Toc520184816 h 548 Disciplines Problem Solving Process PAGEREF _Toc520184817 h 54
Table of Figures
TOC h z c “Figure” Figure 1 – Conceptual framework PAGEREF _Toc520122826 h 9Figure 2 – Cause and effect diagram on Dell’s future workforce skills PAGEREF _Toc520122827 h 10Figure 3 – CAGE framework – the effect of distance on supply chains PAGEREF _Toc520122828 h 12Figure 4 – Continuous improvement cycle; adapted from Sandlers (2016) PAGEREF _Toc520122829 h 14Figure 5 – T-shaped skills; adapted from Tatham (2010) PAGEREF _Toc520122830 h 15Figure 6 – Future skills framework PAGEREF _Toc520122831 h 30Figure 7 Global skills set framework PAGEREF _Toc520122832 h 41
List of Tables
TOC h z c “Table” Table 1 – Competitor benchmark PAGEREF _Toc520122840 h 23Table 2 – Industry benchmark PAGEREF _Toc520122841 h 27Table 3 – Advantages and disadvantages of global operations PAGEREF _Toc520122842 h 28
Table of Abbreviations
3D 3 Dimensional
8D 8 Dimensions
AI Artificial Intelligence
COE Center of Excellence
CFG Common Functional Group
DRT Demand Responsive Transport
DSI Days Sales of Inventory
ECR Efficient Consumer Response
EMEA Europe, Middle East and Africa
ERP Enterprise Resource Planning
FMS Flexible Mobility Service
GM General Motors
HR Human Resource
IoT Internet of Things
KPI Key Performance Indicator
MRP Material Replenishment Planning
NFC Near Field Communication
RPA Robotic Processing Automation
STEM Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
UBI Universal Basic Income
VR Virtual Reality
VUCA Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity
Accelerating technological innovation is impacting the workforce at a fast pace. It is urgent to retrain employees according to the new emerging skills in order to stay competitive. After all, the future of work is the future of the society and the economy.
Reviewing latest thinking, consulting experts on the topic, investigating competitors and industry practice, resulted in establishing the following findings:
Soft skills are of growing importance
In today’s business world soft skills are becoming the common currency more than ever before. Technical or functional skills are still important and hugely valuable; however, it is the human ability to work together that will define the future of the workforce and the future of the company, in both a regional and a global setting. Dell EMC is advised to focus on developing or further enhancing the following skills: interpersonal skills such as coaching, conflict management, leadership skills and empathy; cognitive skills such as creativity, problem solving, strategic decision-making and critical thinking; communication skills such as collaboration, storytelling, active listening and negotiation; functional skills such as design thinking, aptitude for technology, commercial intelligence and data analysis.
2. Lifelong Learning is no longer optional
To become future-ready, organisations must shift away from a fixed-mindset. By continuous encouragement and cross- functional training as well as development plans, organisations can enable curiosity to become a culture of hungry for knowledge employees, who will be able to better adapt to the ever-changing business environment. To make lifelong learning a reality, Dell EMC is advised to offer short-term and targeted training.
3. Rising to the global challenge requires a new way of thinking
Cultural intelligence and the ability to influence and inspire teams internationally will become increasingly important. When cultivating a growth mindset and excelling on pattern recognition, Dell EMC will be able to better integrate processes globally, while also staying responsive within their local markets. As global teams are locally dispersed, virtual collaboration such as knowing how to build relationships through technology is another key skill. Overall Dell EMC is advised to “think global-stay local” and to acquire additional skills needed when working in a global setting.
In recent years there has been a shift in the way organisations conduct business. Globalisation and an increase in automation of jobs is leading to a fundamental transformation required by businesses globally. Besides the increase in technological advancements, to stay ahead and continue delivering value, companies must rethink their strategy and focus on developing their workforce to become flexible and promote continuous development.
Due to the availability of technology, businesses are able to deliver their products and services faster, cheaper and must differentiate from one another using different means, in order to satisfy the increase in customers’ expectations.
The speed at which the changes in technology are happening is not leaving much time for companies to catch up. With the increase of data aggregation, there is an increased need for using sophisticated algorithms able to read data and process it into valuable information. However, at the rate at which changes are occurring, predictive analytics may not be enough to capture the value of historical data and change it into knowledge. Need for soft- and people skills within the technology sector is rising as customer-centric businesses realise the importance of communication across the organisation and the supply chain CITATION 1 l 6153 1.
The above-mentioned factors contribute to the nature of work changing rapidly; however, they are also a source of great opportunities and risks that need consideration. Consequently, strategic decision making must more often include answers to external forces shaping the need for workforce development in the future CITATION Jon17 l 6153 2.
According to a report published by the McKinsey Global Institute, rapid automation adoption will lead up to 375 million workers worldwide having to change their occupation until 2030 1. Dell EMC has also implemented robotics to take over administrative work previously done by employees. However, the company has assured its employees that they will not be dismissed, but that their job description and the therefore required skills are expected to change. The following report investigates the capabilities needed in the near future in order to stay competitive.
1. Company BackgroundDell EMC provides clients of every size with the needed infrastructure to excel on their digital transformation. The company offers cloud computing, big-data solutions, infrastructure, servers, storage and cybersecurity technologies CITATION DEL18 l 6153 3.
Dell is divided into three regions, US, EMEA and Asia, with the Dell Limerick site focusing on the EMEA region. Each region forecasts independently, and a global team based in Malaysia generates a global forecast for its suppliers in China.
1.1 Dell EMC Planning Team OperationsCurrently Dell EMC is using multiple legacy systems for different functions. For example, Hyperion is used to retrieve historical sales and forecast. Forecast is loaded into Demand Manager, which then flows with the ´attacheries´ into Proteus. Ultimately, the Material Replenishment Planning (MRP) is the output based on the forecast and the ´attacheries´ input in the Proteus. Members of the planning team also need to input and refresh data manually. To improve work efficiency, Dell EMC is replacing the multiple legacy systems with one Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system provided by an external company, E2open, and is planning to complete the implementation of ERP within two years. Dell EMC expects that the roles and skill sets needed by the employees of the supply chain department will change once the automation process is completed.
The Dell EMC Client Planning Leadership department aims to reduce Common Functional Group (CFG) complexity, to have a standard lead time of three days, attain CFG forecast, and to manage inventory effectively and to reduce logistics costs. The department therefore, works closely with the sales team to generate forecast demand for existing products in EMEA region by gathering historical sales data from them. The department also cooperates with the marketing team to generate forecast demand for new products in the EMEA region by gaining an insight into the market trends. The Dell EMC Client Planning Leadership department furthermore cooperates with the global supply team based in Malaysia to have a global view of inventory, incoming supply and Days Sales of Inventory (DSI) level. Finally, the Dell EMC Client Planning Leadership department transmits the forecast to the procurement team in Malaysia weekly. The procurement team then extracts the data and buys components based on the forecast.
2. Project Scope
The report aims to explore, understand and explain the future of work as technology advances as well as to give an insight into the advantages and disadvantages of companies planning on a global versus on a regional scale. In the end, it will provide the client Dell EMC with recommendations on what skills will be needed in the near future and if a shift from regional to global planning operations could be beneficial.
The main focus of the project is to investigate the skills Dell EMC´s workforce needs to thrive in the near future, meaning the next 3 to 5 years. With the use of automation of processes, repeatable, mundane tasks are now being automated within the supply chain department at Dell EMC, allowing time to be utilised elsewhere. Considering the emergence of big data and the additional flexibility this will bring, the organisational structure for a large global organisation might change in the future.
The consultancy team will also investigate benefits and drawbacks of a potential shift from regional to global supply chain teams. Hence, to create more value and sustain competitive advantage Dell EMC is looking for answers to the following questions:
What new skills will be required in the supply chain department at Dell EMC in the coming 3 to 5 years?
Whether to shift from regional to global planning?
To uncover recommendations to the above stated research questions, the consultancy team will use both primary and secondary data. The following section first reviews latest thinking on the changing business environment before analysing Dell EMC´s competitors Lenovo and HP. Thereafter, interviews, competitor analysis and industry analysis will be outlined before providing Dell EMC with suitable recommendations. Lastly, a short conclusion will be drawn.
2.1 Conceptual Framework
The conceptual framework, displayed on the following page, shows how the findings from latest thinking, current practice and the interviews are driving towards a framework for providing recommendations to Dell EMC. In detail, the first step is to explore the related themes by reviewing relevant literature. Secondly, data from primary sources will be collected and competitors and the other industries will be analysed to detect common themes and differences. The third and final step will be to provide Dell EMC with recommendations based on the findings in step one and two.
Figure SEQ Figure * ARABIC 1 – Conceptual framework
3. Business Environment
The diagram below highlights five themes, which most influence Dell EMC’s need for new skills development. It is important to note that despite of the changes happening internally due to system automation; there are external forces which require the company to align its workforce skills accordingly with changing supply chain trends, allowing Dell EMC to remain a market leader. Therefore, it is needed to consider both the external and internal factors as both play a significant role in determining potential outcome. The main causes of this shift are elaborated on further in the chapter.
Figure SEQ Figure * ARABIC 2 – Cause and effect diagram on Dell’s future workforce skills3.1 External Environment
Rapid growth in globalisation, IT and changing environments has caused a shift in the context of business; business within a new world that is interconnected, nonlinear and interdependent. This has led to a new environment in which organisations operate, which is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA). The acronym VUCA defines the internal and external conditions and drivers affecting organisations within such complex environments CITATION Ben14 l 6153 4.
The strategic needs of a business nowadays, however, differ much from those of the industrial age; which were stable and routine-driven with well-defined objectives. Businesses today must adapt to the changes as they happen and turn the VUCA environment to work to their advantage. This however, requires some recalibration in how a business strategy is developed and deployed. Successful leadership can help turn arising challenges into opportunities, a learning platform and potential growth CITATION Fas l 6153 5.
Dell EMC operates in a volatile, complex and uncertain environment. Due to its international presence, political and economic forces affect the company’s global supply chain. Local environments in which Dell EMC´s suppliers operate can also lead to disruptions on a global scale, for example delays in lead times of key components or fluctuating currency prices. Complexity of doing business internationally, with a global supply chain requires organisations to adjust to cultural, legal and regulatory conditions of countries where the suppliers are positioned. Therefore, the need for resilience and agility increases proportionally to the number of countries the company operates in.
Globalisation is one of the major factors affecting business in today’s modern world. The growth in the IT sector, continuous evolving communication systems, the ease and reduced cost of transportation has turned the world into a global village. However, this is not as simple as it sounds for businesses going global. Even in the contemporary world, where technology has so much evolved, the distance still matters, and companies must account thoroughly and explicitly for it while making global expansion decisions. The four basic dimensions by which the distance between the two countries can be manifested are: Cultural, Administrative, Geographic, and Economic (CAGE). The CAGE distance framework can assist managers to identify and evaluate the impact of distance on diverse industries.
The upper portion of the table, which can be found on the following page, has the key attributes that underlie the four dimensions of distance whereas the lower portion displays the influence of these attributes on different products and industries CITATION PGh01 l 6153 6.
Figure SEQ Figure * ARABIC 3 – CAGE framework – the effect of distance on supply chains3.3 Supply Chain Management
In the past, most supply chains focused on speed and cost. Nowadays, the best supply chains are also agile and adaptable, and they ensure that all their companies’ interests stay aligned. This concept is known as ‘Triple A’ supply chain CITATION HLL04 l 6153 7:
Agile – means being able to respond to short-term changes quickly and to handle external disruptions smoothly.
Adaptable – is concerned with adjusting the supply chain’s design and network to long-term changes and alignment deals with creating incentives for the whole supply chain to work together.
Aligned – the interests and strategy within the company and supply chains; companies and supply chains can yield system-wide competitive advantage and maximize their gains.
Agility is important because in most industries, both demand and supply fluctuate more rapidly and widely than they used to. An agile supply chain helps the company recover quickly from a sudden shock. Companies also need to adapt to near permanent changes such as technological advancement and regulatory changes to stay competitive. However, companies cannot build such a supply chain by using technology alone. CITATION HLL04 l 6153 7.
Alignment within the company and supply chain helps avoiding fragmented efforts. Without alignment, use of the technology will not yield a system-wide competitive advantage. There are three steps to align technology with company’s overall objectives and strategy. As can be seen below (Figure 4), the first step is to use technology to create optimal supply chain segments with clear attributes. This defines exactly how the company intends to compete in each segment and helps establish the needed focus. The second step is to align organizational functions so that their efforts support segment attributes and competitive priorities. Aligning means integrating processes across the supply chain. As a result, each supply chain function applies its technology efforts to support the stated competitive priority, rather than engaging in random exploratory efforts; integrating organization and its supply chain horizontally CITATION Kra11 l 6153 8.
The final step is to measure the performance of technology. The company and employees should develop strategically aligned KPIs to measure segment attributes. This could help to better understand whether the technology is doing what is expected. And as the best and sustained change occurs from gradual improvements, this should be an ongoing process. The company should assess the whole process, refine the segmentation process and realign the technology with company’s objectives constantly CITATION San16 l 6153 9.
Figure SEQ Figure * ARABIC 4 – Continuous improvement cycle; adapted from Sandlers (20161895475-635)3.4 Internal Environment
From 1990 to 2017, the percentage of internet users worldwide has developed at an exponential rate manifested in Moore´s Law, which states that computing grows in power and declines in costs at an exponential rate CITATION Int15 l 6153 10. In 2017, 48% of the total population had access to the internet increasing the communication network CITATION ICT17 l 6153 11 CITATION SGr18 l 6153 12. The digital revolution yields huge amounts of data enabling innovations such as 3D printing technologies and cloud computing CITATION Rin18 l 6153 13.
By 2020, 50 billion mobile devices will be in use, which means that even more data will be available. Hence, data processing and storage systems have to constantly evolve in order to meet customers´ demand for real-time response. These challenges are met by edge computing technologies such as cloudlet or fog. These technologies have the potential to ensure a quick service response by the cloud data centre to the end user and are used for applications such as face-recognition, cognitive assistance or real-time analytics CITATION Bil17 l 6153 14. Another technology that has been increasingly incorporated in industries is Artificial Intelligence (AI). Put simply, AI is a software that is able to learn and make anthropoid, human-like decisions CITATION Rou18 l 6153 15.
These technological advances are changing our world, the nature of products, the role of customers and foremost the core competencies of companies. Firms are advised to constantly reassess the status quo and to be flexible to successfully encounter the second digital revolution CITATION Rin18 l 6153 13.
3.5 Employment Skills
The triple-A concept explained in 3.3, requires managers to possess both functional as well as soft skills. As supply chain management is interdisciplinary and driven by globalization, especially soft skills such as problem-solving and relational capabilities are key to success and more important than functional skills such as warehouse management or inventory management. The T-shaped skills profile (Figure 5), lists all skills supply chain managers should possess to successfully manage a firm´s supply chain CITATION Pet l 6153 16.
General management skills Problem-solving skills Interpersonal skills
Finance and accounting Problem identification Listening
Change management Information sharing
Problem analysis Oral communication
Marketing Information sharing People management
Project management Problem solving Meeting facilitation
Strategic management Negotiation
Customer relationship management
Risk management Stress management
Functional logistics skills
Customs, import and export
Purchasing and procurement
Logistics information systems
Figure SEQ Figure * ARABIC 5 – T-shaped skills; adapted from Tatham (2010)Content analysis of advertised job position also stressed the importance of management skills in the logistics sector. Most job descriptions required social competences followed by functional competencies. It is important to note that the required skills differ per hierarchical level: expert and specialist positions require technical competencies, experience as well as language skills, whereas skilled-worker positions require flexibility, basic computer competences and social skills CITATION HKo18 l 6153 17.
3.6 Workforce of the Future
The following section elaborates the potential changes in the job market as a direct result of new technologies being adopted CITATION Rou18 l 6153 15. As computers are getting more advanced and able to execute complicated tasks, less user involvement is required CITATION Lea18 l 6153 18.
Automation, Internet of Things (IoT) and AI will change all areas of work across all sectors and most likely alter the conventional concept of work. According to the Megatrends 2017 report, there are two possible outcomes CITATION Sit18 l 6153 19 :
The nature of work will change, but there will be enough work for everyone.
Only a few people will be employed and even less will earn a salary.
As stated in the report ´A Future That Works: Automation, Employment, and Productivity` published by McKinsey Global Institute, robotics will take over half of our work tasks by 2055 CITATION JMa17 l 6153 20. Already, most firms require only a few full-time workers to receive very high valuations: in 1962 General Motors (GM) needed 605,000 employees for a market valuation of $12 billion and in 2017 Apple achieved a market value of $800 billion with only 116,000 employees. This means Apple had sixty-seven times the valuation of GM in 2017 and those numbers are likely to increase in the near future due to automation CITATION Lea18 l 6153 18.
As Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, founder of a venture capital firm investing in AI firms and former Google and Microsoft executive, puts it:
“Pretty much anything that requires 10 seconds of thinking or less can soon be done by AI or other algorithms.”
However, the report by McKinsey also argues that less than 5 percent of occupations will be fully automated, and that automation might lead to a global productivity growth of 0.4 to 1.8 percent, which means that people replaced by Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are likely to find other employment such as working alongside machines as technical experts CITATION JMa17 l 6153 20. The challenge is therefore to upskill employees accordingly or support their transition into other occupations. If the latter is managed within one year, automation has a positive impact on the economy CITATION Job17 l 6153 21.
As mentioned in paragraph one, employees will be able to spend more time on activities, which machines cannot do, such as communicating with others, managing people and applying expertise. In short, the future workforce will need to have more social and emotional skills and enhance cognitive capabilities such as creativeness and logical reasoning. The McKinsey Global Institute recommends countries to embrace new technologies, but to also establish a plan with regards to investment needed, suitable training models or programs, cooperation between the public and the private sector and income support CITATION Job17 l 6153 21.
Richard David Precht, German philosopher, expects scenario number 2 to happen, namely that many employees will lose their jobs and not be able to find new employment. He states that a universal basic income (UBI) is needed to stabilise social security. Everyone should be entitled to a basic salary, financed by income taxes as well as financial transaction taxes, disregarding one´s occupational status CITATION Ric l 6153 22.
2,000 inhabitants in Finland are already testing UBI and reporting a decrease in stress and an increase of the chances of starting one´s own business CITATION Lea18 l 6153 18. Another UBI experiment in Kenya confirms the latter. A study by the Overseas Development Institute has shown that UBI has increased health and social wellbeing CITATION P l 6153 23.
However, there are many opponents arguing that individual might not be willing to work any longer and that the financial burden to realize UBI is too high for governments CITATION Rou18 l 6153 15. Another emerging way of working is freelancing. It is estimated that by 2020, 50 percent of the workforce will consist of freelancers. On websites such as upwork.com, freelancers offer more than 3,500 skills CITATION Lea18 l 6153 18.
The above chapter lists and explores major triggers of technology advancements and need for upskilling required both at Dell EMC as well as other international businesses.
Companies must focus their supply chain and operations within the whole supply chain network on being:
Both the external and internal environment need to be considered when upskilling the current workforce and developing new skills. As Dell EMC operates in a VUCA environment and there will be more data available in the future within the organization, Dell EMC needs to check its status quo constantly and be flexible enough to adapt to future changes.
Due to its international presence, political and economic forces affect the company’s global supply chain. In order to tackle the therewith arising challenges, companies are advised to deploy the CAGE distance framework in order to identify and evaluate the impact of distance on diverse industries.
As supply chain management is interdisciplinary and driven by globalization and business processes are more and more automated, especially soft skills such as problem-solving and relational capabilities are key to success. The automation might also lead to a more fundamental change in the workforce such as the adoption of UBI or an increase in freelancers.
A set of interviews have been conducted to understand supply chain professionals´ and academics´ opinion on the future skills and whether to operate globally or regionally.
All interviewees agreed that technology advancements have a great impact on the workforce and the skills required. The changes are not seen as a threat, but rather as an opportunity to work on less mundane task and more on intellectual tasks. According to the professionals, a key skill in the near future will be analysing data, whereas the academic takes a step further by adding that focus should be also placed on thoroughly understanding the data, as trends show that literacy is key when reading data. This goes from considering the significance of data collection to having the ability to check the quality of the data to ensure integrity of data throughout the systems.
The professionals agree that process experts are indeed required, especially if companies establish a Center of Excellence (COE) focusing on RPA. COEs require process experts, people that understand digitalisation and lean six sigma process improvement or technical architects.
As mentioned in the second paragraph data analytics will be a key skill in the near future and both professionals stated that more time could now be spent on more intellectually challenging tasks that require more subjectivity such as identifying trends. In addition to that, soft skills will also further develop as this extra time could also mean spending more time on developing a good rapport with other teams. Communication skills will be a key skill in the near future and according to the academic even more so in a global scenario. With regards to globalisation of a company, professionals also share that there has been a shift. Using robotics makes outsourced functions, such as customer service to call centres in India, redundant. Instead, this value-adding function can be brought back into the local market.
Moreover, communication skills help teams to better collaborate, which further enables knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing can support to achieve business goals.
However, in terms of global and regional positioning of supply chain teams, such shift poses a number of challenges, technologically, geographically and on employee level, as stated by the academic. In order to make such shift work there will be a need for contingent teams and individuals within such teams known as ‘boundary-spanners’, such that the teams would be semi-stable and flexible. An idea would be to meet every now and then and to use virtual teams as they are highly practical.
The above chapter offers a synthesis of key findings from interviews conducted with specialists in the field of supply chain, automation, and data analytics. According to supply chain professionals and academics, the nature of work is changing, which is having a great impact on the way work is structured, positioned geographically, and how it affects future skills.
Key future skills being mentioned remain within:
Reading and interpreting data
Cross-department process understanding
Additionally, collaboration between departments is also mentioned as important to better understand the processes and enable knowledge sharing.
5. Competitor and Industry Analysis
5.1 Competitor Analysis
To understand the opportunities for change and development in regard to Dell EMC’s future skill needs and operational structure, the following section analyses the approach of their competitors Lenovo and HP.
5.1.1 LenovoLenovo is a multinational technology company offering both hardware and cloud computing services CITATION Len17 l 6153 24. The company has two headquarters, one in the US and one in China to minimise language barriers and maximise Lenovo´s access to innovation and employee diversity. Managers are sent to other locations as part of a mid-career rotation program to learn how to manage global teams and to gain knowledge and expertise. However, the assignment abroad is no longer than ten weeks to avoid disruption at one of the 60 local operations. On a global scale, Lenovo´s supply chain strategy entails improving process efficiency by using the SAP Advanced Planning and Optimisation as part of the SAP HANA suite. Gerry Smith, Executive Vice President, claims that Lenovo´s total planning time was reduced from 10 hours to 10 minutes CITATION SAP18 l 6153 25.
Lenovo´s “different is better” strategy is a key driver across all disciplines. Their supply chain management department is diverse in terms of skill set, age, cognitive ability or geographical location. What is common though is the high emphasis placed on customer satisfaction expressed by measuring every employee’s performance against the same customer-centric metrics CITATION Len17 l 6153 24. In more detail, thirty percent of Lenovo´s supply chain workforce are engineers that have analytical- and problem-solving skills and that manage automation. 56 percent of supply chain employees hold “plan-source-make-deliver” functions and fourteen percent focus specifically on customer service CITATION Sup18 l 6153 26.
Instead of providing one-on-one feedback, Lenovo´s supply chain organisation often holds a mentoring circle, in which individuals discuss ideas and provide feedback to each other. In addition, the company also pairs experienced employees with less experienced ones to learn from each other. High potential employees are also sent on a trip together to strengthen their leadership skills, problem solving ability and their empathy CITATION Sup18 l 6153 26.
Lenovo acknowledges the continuous technological advancement and the importance of the well-educated workforce and places a high importance on training and education CITATION Len17 l 6153 24.
5.1.2 Hewlett-PackardHewlett-Packard (HP) is a multinational company with over 49,000 employees globally; despite nearly 74,000 fewer employees, HP remains Dell’s strong competitor in computer hardware CITATION Owl18 l 6153 27.
The company strives to take lead while ”accelerating their reinvention journey”. This can be seen in HP’s impressive history of acquisitions, which shows how the company was evolving and redesigning its strategy to become more responsive within the technological world. CITATION Cru18 l 6153 28. In 2015, HP acquired ConteXtream, Aruba Networks and Voltage Security, allowing the company access to network virtualisation framework, cloud-based security and services software and management solutions.
As stated by the CEO, Dion J. Weisler, the company’s results are built on strong foundation of their three pillars: core, growth, and future CITATION Ent17 l 6153 29. The company’s plan for their core and growth pillars is to become the leader in commercial solutions and to drive commercial transformation. Future plans currently include revitalising the graphics market through their innovative printing solutions and becoming the leader in 3D printing, followed by creation of new immersive categories, such as virtual reality (VR). HP´s customer-centric approach is set out in having local factories that tailor for specific customer requirements and in assigning an operational manager to handle customer accounts.
HP’s priorities as of 2017 are, to reinvent the company’s culture and diversity standards across the industry. Driving employee engagement through local and global programs is believed to strengthen employees´ pride in HP’s innovation. In their forward-looking statement, HP strives to connect their employees on all levels across business to further drive their strategy to “Belong, Innovate and Grow”. As such, HP stresses risk-taking, innovation and continuous development as key enablers of a sustainable business CITATION Ent17 l 6153 29. In practice, HP uses both third-party cloud service providers such as Workday for HR-related processes, SAP and robotics for increasing efficiency across other tasks.
HP does not only seek constant process improvements but also provides its employees with tailored development programs in analytics and project management CITATION Bro13 l 6153 30. The company promotes openness on all levels and encourages ideas-sharing by facilitating knowledge pooling throughout European centers of excellence; and encourages ‘courageous conversations’, enabling collective immersion CITATION Ent17 l 6153 29. The company is also committed to empowering and protecting employees along their supply chain, while fostering cultural independence CITATION Tom17 l 6153 31.
Lastly, HP recognises that people skills are not common among IT professionals. The company is trying to minimise the communication gaps through their leadership and management. focuses on education of their employees and how improve communication effectively across various teams and seniority levelsCITATION Hew17 l 6153 32.
Summary – Competitor Benchmark Overview
Criteria Lenovo HP
Strategy Different is better. Accelerating our reinvention journey.
Core pillars: Core, Growth and Future.
Processes in use SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (SAP HANA)
Planning time down from 10h to 10min Investing heavily in process improvement resulting in letting 29,000 employees off.
Workday and DocuSign, but also HP´s own
SAP ERP tool in use
Global versus local Local with mid-career rotation program
Assignment abroad no longer than ten weeks – to avoid disruption at one of the 60 locations Global, with regional factories to handle specific customer requirements.
Local account management to cater to customers’ needs
Supply chain workforce Managing automation
Analytical and problem-solving skills
Plan-Source-Make-Deliver Functions & Customer Service Focus on customer engagement and cost reduction in COEs in EMEA
Skill set Diverse in terms of skill set, age, cognitive ability or geographical location
Strong focus on customer satisfaction Knowledge sharing
Focusing on education and training of employees
Improving communication across teams and seniority levels
Training and Feedback Really important
Mentoring circle, pairing experienced employees with less experienced ones
Strengthening leadership skills, problem solving ability and empathy Employee Engagement through local and global programs;
Facilitating idea sharing
programs in analytics and project management
Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 1 – Competitor benchmark5.2 Industry Analysis
Technological advancements happen across all industries and require companies to adapt to the changes at fast pace. Despite differences in business needs, the priority to provide competitive advantage and grow customer share remains as a common link regardless the market businesses operate in. This section investigates how the retail industry and the transportation sector are adjusting their operations with respect to the change in skill requirements.
5.2.1 Retail Industry
The retail sector is one the most innovative sectors and it contributes 14.2% of the employment in Ireland. This sector effectively uses information, communication and new technologies to optimise the flow of goods from producers to consumers. Although it may seem that this sector does not require high-skilled employees; the reality is that most of the employees in this sector are quite well-trained and the ratio is increasing. The skills required in this sector at present are professional skills such as IT, accountancy, leadership skills and teamwork CITATION EGF10 l 6153 33.
The underlying trends in this sector will continue to mould the skills requirements in the future. Efficient management of highly optimised supply chains is one of the major upcoming trends in retail sector. Implementing an effective approach such as Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) for improving supply chain management requires supply chain managers to obtain new skills.
Technological advancements are also affecting the retail sector. This includes innovations in customer payment, customer purchasing, use of technology, data mining on customers and category management. New technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC) emerged, where payment can be made by physical contactless cards CITATION Wie09 l 6153 34. Another new technology is ‘voice picking’ which is used by Irish distribution centres, where all warehouse functions as for instance put-away, replenishment, shipping and returns processing can now be coordinated by voice systems CITATION Mar l 6153 35.
Such emerging technologies and advancements will open opportunities for new and higher skilled jobs. The critical skills required in the future include digital, food science, design and display, product knowledge, data analysis, communications, supply chain and cost control. While some skills will remain the same and rooted in the past skills, some will be reinvented or revived CITATION Ins16 l 6153 36.
5.2.2 Transportation Sector
Automation has slowly made its way into the transportation sector, as a result numerous tasks involved in transportation are fully automated. This automation has major implications on the way the business is carried, the effects of which can be seen and analysed in case of Dell EMC.
Foremost, from a supply chain perspective, logistics and planning often happen globally, and therefore these two sectors require collaboration of global teams; Furthermore, both sectors are facing issues in maintaining a balance in their workforce ratio, which could be linked to the absence of soft skills in the technology and transportation sectorCITATION Rep09 l 6153 37.
Just-In-Time (JIT) allows a company to serve their customers better, while at the same time, lowering the cost of doing business. Furthermore, strong leadership and regulation are needed in both electronics and transportation sectors to ensure that the automation is safe, and that it not only serve to sustain, but also to create jobs CITATION Int18 l 6153 38. Moreover, this sector is shifting more towards automation and personalisation of services such as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), i.e. carpooling, demand responsive transport (DRT) and flexible mobility service (FMS) schemes, such as Uber services. This, however, requires new set of competencies and skills in this sector.
The leaders in transportations have certainly embraced the technological advancements and automation. Tesla, the industry leader in innovation who aims to create self-driving cars, has proved that technological advancement can help companies to achieve greater sustainability goals CITATION Dye16 l 6153 39. Train companies have also become more technologically advanced and as a result, human intervention is only required in an emergency. Shuttle trains, such as driverless SkyTrain (Vancouver, CA), are digitised and interconnected across other systems, allowing them to navigate safely through traffic CITATION Tra18 l 6153 40.
The increasing use of autonomous and unmanned transport systems is also driving the shift in skills requirements in the sector CITATION Nee15 l 6153 41. The automation across multiple areas in the transportation sector has resulted in a shift in the skills necessary for successful operation of various transport modes across goods and passenger transport. With the automation of basic functions such as driving or operating the control rooms, it has been identified that many employees in the entry level positions lack basic IT skills, and therefore, a shift in the skillset is necessary. Changes are required to upskill employees in the lower-level positions, improve management of information and data and shorten supply value chains – rather than reducing employment CITATION MJe17 l 6153 42.
To bridge the skill gap, training initiatives have emerged to help companies adapt to the advancing technology and be more customer-centric. Therefore, education and training are increasing not only in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) skills, but also in the areas of people skills CITATION The18 l 6153 43.
Summary – Industry Benchmark
Criteria Retail Sector Transportation Sector
Sector background Most innovative sector
Uses new technologies effectively to optimise the flow of goods from producers to consumers. Automation across multiple areas of transportation can be visible.
Just-in-time (JIT) methods allows companies to be more service-focused.
Processes in use Near Field Communication (NFC)
Voice picking technology
‘Pay by touch’
Personalisation of services such as:
Demand Responsive Transport (DRT)
Flexible Mobility Service (FMS) scheme
Global versus local Not a truly global sector.
Most giants are local players.
Long-term higher growth opportunities offered by emerging market driving retail sector to go global.
Logistics and planning happen both globally and regionally.
Depends upon different business requirements.
Supply chain workforce Managing automation.
Mainly focus on customer satisfaction.
Focus on customer satisfaction.
Provide customer tailored services.
Skill set Information technology.
Strong focus on teamwork and customer satisfaction.
Decision making skill.
Focusing on education and training of employees.
Focus on Leadership skill.
Strong focus on customer satisfaction.
Training and feedback Education and training provided in areas of:
Strengthening leadership skills. Education and training provided in areas of STEM:
Training to develop leadership and teamwork skills.
Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 2 – Industry benchmark
6. Regional versus Global Operations
Conducting global activities is becoming more diverse, resulting in the need for restructuring processes, while addressing the issue of scarcity of knowledge and resources. One way of tackling such issue is to allocate activities according to strength of certain countries CITATION Nec17 l 6153 44. This increases efficiency and leads to the creation of open innovation, meaning sharing common goals and creating local responsiveness to global problems. Innovation also helps driving development, thus reducing the risk of scarcity of talent in knowledge-intensive industries, such as technology services; allowing for increase in competitive advantage through skilled human resources.
The following chapter lists the disadvantages and advantages of global operations in order to answer the second research question, whether to shift from regional to global planning.
6.1 Disadvantages of Global Operations
Globalising a company has advantages and disadvantages. Unmanaged global expansion could lead to wastage of company’s resources and money. It is easier to change systems and processes, but extremely difficult to change employees and their mindset. Therefore, effective change management plays a crucial role in globalisation of a company. Some of the complications of globalisation a company may face are resistance from the employees, cultural conflicts and limited employee’s knowledge. Ineffective change management can damage the company’s reputation as this could result in job cuts if employees are not trained properly. Successful change management makes the company ready for embracing globalisation.
6.2 Advantages of Global OperationsDespite the challenges described above, expanding your business globally, can also have advantages. Operating globally permits potential additional revenue streams and growth potential. Besides creating a greater customer base, moving to global operations also means having access to new resources or forming partnership to further strengthen business performance CITATION NKo18 l 6153 45. Operating in multiple markets also spreads the risk in case of market failure as diversification decreases the exposure to domestic economic developments CITATION NKo18 l 6153 45. Additionally, having a global workforce with diverse skills that are able to interact well with business partners from various cultural backgrounds is highly beneficial as when different people with different backgrounds and culture work together, they are exposed to varying viewpoints and innovative ideas CITATION NKo18 l 6153 45 . Therefore, resulting in a competitive advantage to a company.
The below table gives a brief overview of challenges and opportunities with regards to global positioning of operations.
Summary – Advantages and Disadvantages of Global Operations
Advantages of Global Operations Disadvantages of Global Operations
Encourages knowledge transfer
Helps develop shared vision
Helps to create participative approach
Reduction in micromanagement
Reduces hierarchical management
Opportunity for developing new skill set
Encourages relationship building
Increases innovation across teams Hard to manage communication
Difficulty in creating realistic goals across teams
Expensive to execute
Cultural conflicts, Lack of transparency
Inability to synchronise processes
Regulatory and legal barriers
Technological incapability – infrastructure issues
Tasks may differ regionally to accommodate local markets
Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 3 – Advantages and disadvantages of global operations
7. Recommendations After conducting extensive research using both primary and secondary sources, new findings are established, and valuable conclusions are drawn for Dell EMC in the following chapter. In more detail, the final chapter entails a framework showing the skills needed in the near future and an introduction into the concept of learning. Moreover, this chapter includes a recommendation on whether global operations are beneficial and lastly, a framework showing the required skills for global operations.
7.1 Future Skills Set
Digital technologies such as AI systems and cognitive tools are transforming the nature of work and consequently, the skills required. It has been estimated that 47 to 53 percent of the tasks can be automated in the next two-three years with the technology that exists at present. However, many organisations are re-creating the jobs that will now involve a blend of technology and employees (“augmented workforce”) to work together efficiently for better productivity and results. Organisations are now analysing the “essential human skills” required for the specific roles.
As identified in the research section of this report, there is an increasing need for soft and interpersonal skills across businesses. With the use of automation, it is becoming harder to prepare the workforce for jobs that have not yet been invented CITATION Sea16 l 6153 46. With the increased popularity of virtual teams and the markets adjusting to the new ‘millennial’ workforce, the standard nine-to-five will no longer be the norm. Developing skills continuously as opposed to acquiring a skill and applying it to perform work is also becoming an outdated practice CITATION eLe17 l 6153 47.
The framework on the following page shows the skills required within the specific roles in the near future. This framework comprises of the skill set mix, which will allow Dell EMC to match the people with the right skills to the right tasks, after automating business processes.
Figure SEQ Figure * ARABIC 6 – Future skills framework
7.1.1 Interpersonal Skills
According to managers, interpersonal skills are the second highest skill required after teamwork skills. Even though accelerating technology is at the forefront of how and through which businesses operate, knowing how to work effectively with co-workers and customers is still essential. CITATION Pil18 l 6153 48. Effective interpersonal skills result in a successful team player at work and moreover, promote a positive work environment. Poor interpersonal skills may result in dissatisfied customers, lawsuits, and conflicts in the office. Some interpersonal skills might be a part of one’s personality and others can be learned over time CITATION Tuc17 l 6153 49. Some of the future required interpersonal skills are as follows:
In the future, change will be the norm and an individual performance will be important to the team and the organisational success. Coaching encourages creativity and resilience. Moreover, it gives organisations a competitive edge and an effective way to operate in a continuous changing environment. Many successful companies, such as HP or IBM, have acknowledged the importance of managers coaching their co-workers and moreover, included coaching in the management and leadership development CITATION Coa12 l 6153 50.
Conflict in a team is inevitable but preparing to deal with it in a positive and logical manner can save oneself from further disruptions. Conflict occurs when people have different opinions on subjects, lack of respect for each other, power imbalances and divergent goals. Unmanaged or poorly managed conflicts result in breakdown of trust and lost productivity CITATION Don18 l 6153 51. However, positive conflict resolution in a team leads to better long-term team dynamics and helps preventing demotivation, stress and general employee unrest. One should always talk to the other person, listen carefully and patiently and be soft on people and hard on problems.
Leadership is a crucial function of management which helps to maximise effectiveness and to achieve organizational goals CITATION Its15 l 6153 52. Leadership skills in a workplace play a very important role. It helps in providing focus and drives the team forward, empowers team members to work at their full capabilities and take responsibility in strategic decision making CITATION 17La l 6153 53. One can always develop leadership skills in the workplace by volunteering for new tasks, teaching and sharing of the information, motivating employees and co-workers, willing to admit and learn from the failures and weaknesses and setting a goal and following a concrete action plan CITATION Buj12 l 6153 54.
With good leadership skills, Dell EMC would be able to further develop its own culture and communication will be effective and open. Everyone would understand the vision and goals of the company, and everyone may input into how it can be further improved. Moreover, employees at Dell EMC will feel that they are an important part of the organization and they will give their best for the success of the organization.
It is the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and getting aware of their feelings and understand their requirements. In the workplace, empathy can show a deep respect and care for the co-worker. An empathic leadership style can make everyone feel like a team and increase productivity, ethics, and loyalty CITATION Pre12 l 6153 55. By understanding co-workers, Dell EMC employees will develop closer relationships which will further help in building trust within the team. And this trust will help in achieving better results.
7.1.2 Cognitive SkillsThe importance of cognitive skills in a workplace has been increasing CITATION bus17 l 6153 56. There has been a 12% decrease in repetitive work, and a 60% increase in highly cognitive non-routine work CITATION Del17 l 6153 57. This data proves that automation does not necessary take away jobs, but it creates them elsewhere. Employees with strong cognitive skills are able to learn faster and are good at handling multiple tasks simultaneously without much supervision CITATION Fis17 l 6153 58. Various studies point, however, to a challenge in employee retention, suggesting that those with strong cognitive abilities although learn and adapt faster, are also more likely to look for opportunities elsewhere CITATION Fis17 l 6153 58. Additionally, as cognitive skills tend to decline in adult life, it would be strongly beneficial to allow employees to continue to learn new skills in multiple areas of the business. Therefore, it is increasingly important to channel employees’ talents accordingly and allow for tailored development plans. Ineffective, ‘one-size-fits’ all developments plan can cause employees to become demotivated or stagnant, which in turn can demotivate whole teams CITATION Bes17 l 6153 59.
Creativity in the workplace does not relate to the typical artistic abilities such as drawing; more often it requires creative thinking, planning and thinking ‘outside the box’ CITATION Pla18 l 6153 60. Creative planning can be especially beneficial when developing new or redesigning existing processes. Therefore, it is of high value to Dell EMC, as after successful implementation of RPA, employees will be able to work more on project-based tasks. Additionally, good visual processing will be required as employees shift from data crunching to data interpretation.
When collaborating with international teams, creative planning will become increasingly important. Being able to think ahead and anticipate consequences of actions is essential, especially if there are many parties involved in the process of planning, there are varying lead times and transparency between teams located in various geographical regions is limited CITATION Fis17 l 6153 58.
Matching people with similar problem-solving experiences but ensuring they come from a variety of backgrounds, i.e. different educational background or different culture, can significantly increase their creativity CITATION Pla18 l 6153 60. Additionally, employees tend to be more creative when given the freedom to choose their own approach in resolving assigned tasks CITATION Pla18 l 6153 60. Good leadership can also increase the level of creativity of the teams, however, this can only be achieved with the feeling of safety across the entire team or organisation, as employees who do not feel safe to express their ideas are likely to mimic the ideas of the leader. Therefore, building a good work environment which is enjoyable and sometimes even fun can enhance employees’ ability to become more creative CITATION Bes17 l 6153 59 CITATION Pla18 l 6153 60.
Whenever there are multiple parties involved in the planning process, there is a greater risk of encountering problems. This is simply due to the lack of visibility among teams operating in different regions CITATION Owe17 l 6153 61. To deal with problems as they arise, employees should be able to refocus their attention and to become more resourceful in order to easily switch between tasks and projects. Strong observational skills and lateral thinking are valued in early stages of problem-solving CITATION Ric17 l 6153 62.
Teamwork has also been linked with improved problem-solving, due to collaboration and ideas being discussed during the brainstorming sessions. Participating in brainstorming sessions, such as mind-mapping, has also been linked to increased productivity and creativity of employees CITATION Ric17 l 6153 62. Interestingly, change of setting of collaborative problem-solving can also significantly improve the quality of ideas; therefore, moving away from the areas designed specifically for ideas creation can improve creative problem-solving CITATION Ric17 l 6153 62.
Additionally, there are various tools available, which can significantly improve the process and outcome of working on a problem. 8-Disciplines (8D) problem solving tool is a proven way of dealing with problems and preventing repetitive issues from happening. This tool has been widely used in automotive and manufacturing industries, where cross-department collaboration is key in resolving problems CITATION Qua18 l 6153 63. The tool requires teams to work collaboratively on tackling problems, as opposed to having employees working on problems individually – this also strengthens relationships within an organisation and builds a ‘what-if’ mentality, which can further benefit organisations as it encourages continuous improvement CITATION Ric17 l 6153 62.
Strategic decision making requires extensive knowledge of the company’s vision, mission and values, as well as the long- and short-term strategy. It is necessary for employees to be able to carry out a precise and accurate analysis of possible risks and outcomes before making decisions. While computers are great at optimising, they lack common sense. Therefore, even though an increasing amount of processes can be automated, leading to increase in productivity, strategic decision making remains a task that only humans can perform CITATION HBR18 l 6153 64.
It requires the ability to connect factual data with the non-written procedures and affairs, which can be observed in the work environment. As such, relationships employees have with the suppliers or colleagues, or psychological variability, such as tiredness can impact the decision-making process, which in turn can influence the organisation’s competitiveness and performance CITATION Ces17 l 6153 65. Therefore, to increase employees’ ability to make better and strategic decisions, it is advisable to allow for cross-functional training to increase knowledge sharing CITATION IES18 l 6153 66. It is also advisable that employees are capable of emotional intelligence, as it allows people to collaborate and achieve maximum effectiveness, while building stronger relationships CITATION Meh17 l 6153 67.
Technological and socio-economic changes are impacting businesses globally, which results in mounting amounts of new information coming into the spectrum of corporate decision-making. In the era of readily-available technology and social-media, however, the attention spans are getting shorter and employees are much more prone to distractions CITATION MAn17 l 6153 68. Critical thinking does not only relate to assessing arguments, it is also the ability to set priorities and being adaptable to changes. It is a complement to creative thinking, and both are required to effective problem solving and decision-making CITATION Ree17 l 6153 69. Therefore, there is an increased need for employees to be able to build better understanding and being able to weigh all solutions before reaching conclusions.
To improve this soft skill, it is necessary to exercise objectivity and becoming impartial in the decision-making. Depending on the issue and severity of problems, it is advised to build a response mechanism, which inhibits impulsive, and sometimes automatic responses CITATION MAn17 l 6153 68. Helping employees to develop this skill requires effort, as it needs to be a bridge between work and education, but it is in turn very advantageous for business, as it improves productivity, employees’ communication, and reduces conflicts. It can help employees focus on differences of opinions and treat them not as conflict but as opportunities for improvement CITATION Ree17 l 6153 69.
7.1.3 Communication SkillsAccording to a US survey, miscommunication costs a US company of at least 100,000 employees more than 62.4 million US Dollar per company per year CITATION San18 l 6153 70. Communication skills are therefore a key business skill and they are only getting more important.
One of the key communication skills in the future will be to know how to speak and collaborate with others. Automating business processes will give employees time to collaborate more with other teams, which increases their business intelligence. In specific, if lead times are now automatically updated, an employee at the Dell EMC planning department might use this time to collaborate more with other teams such as the marketing and sales team to identify trends in order to even better forecast.
For successful collaboration it is important to excel on all the previous mentioned skills, but also to know how to build trust. Trust can be built by agreeing on a common goal, self-disclosure or by focusing on the future CITATION Tho11 l 6153 71. A collaborative work environment can be built by leveraging on each other’s strengths. A personality test such as the Myer-Briggs can increase one´s own self-awareness and help understanding team members CITATION cam l 6153 72.
One of the ways people talk to each other is by telling a story. Storytelling is a powerful tool as it evokes emotions, it helps understanding complex circumstances and it helps when sharing knowledge. A study conducted at Stanford university found that if people combine a story with statistics, the probability of the statistics being remembered is 65-70%. Besides using data and statistics, it is recommended to tell a story people can relate to in terms of language or characters. Lastly, stories should have a clear structure, so that the audience can follow easily CITATION wes l 6153 73.
Active listening has been ranked third in the top 40 list of most important workforce skills in the UK CITATION del l 6153 74. The simple physical ability to hear does not imply that everyone listens. Actively listening is a skill and it is crucial to understand other people’s thoughts thoroughly in order to excel in both, personal and a business context CITATION ros l 6153 75 CITATION Rou18 l 6153 15. When actively listen the right body language is key. Maintaining eye contact, leaning towards the speaker and nodding can help processing content. Paraphrasing what has been said is another way to aid active listening CITATION ros l 6153 75.
Whether people like it or not, negotiations are happening on a daily basis. Especially in organizations, employees have to negotiate regardless of the position. The Dell EMC client leadership and planning team may need to negotiate terms and conditions with other teams such as the sales team. The ability to successfully negotiate is therefore recognised as one of the top skills. When negotiating it is important to plan ahead, to assess the other party and the situation. Win-win agreements can be reached by applying strategies such as taking the other person´s perspective, asking question to unbundle issues that can be traded off or by making packages deals CITATION Tho11 l 6153 71.
7.1.4 Functional Skills
Although there is a significant incline in soft skills being recognised as of rising importance, the functional skills are still needed to bring and create value for the business. Functional skills are the practical, tangible and usable knowledge of a particular business function. It helps people to understand and perform business activities CITATION tec l 6153 76.
In the technology sector, those skills have been the main area of focus in the pre-automation era. With the shift in the scope of work, hard skills, such as data analysis need to be redesigned, to better fit the requirements of the business.
Design thinking is a very important skill in the near future. Some of the world’s leading brands, such as Apple and Samsung have rapidly adopted a design thinking approach. Design thinking is also being taught at leading universities around the world such as Stanford, Harvard and MIT. At the heart of design thinking lies the ability to ask the right questions. To apply design thinking, the most important step is to determine what the root cause is that needs to be addressed. Design thinking helps companies to do the right kind of research so as to uncover new ways to improve their offerings CITATION dam l 6153 77. As the technology keep evolving, it’s important for Dell EMC to have the design thinking ability so that they can solve the new problems they may face in the future.
Aptitude for technology
Most job advertisements list MS Excel skill as a minimum requirement – but this is not enough. Supply chain professionals should also know how to use those industry-specific software such as SAP or ERP CITATION man l 6153 78. Although supply chain managers do not need to be experts in IT system, they do need to be familiar with new technologies, so that they can have intelligent conversations with staff in the IT department. Some IT knowledge will also help dealing with the challenges when selecting the right state-of-the-art technologies for the company CITATION Bre l 6153 79. This being said, training in how to use the ERP system will be very important for Dell EMC.
Commercial intelligence is the knowledge of business environment, competitors, products, customers and the organization itself CITATION kah l 6153 80. As digitalization and machine learning evolve so quickly, the business environment is very uncertain and complex CITATION Ben14 l 6153 4. For example, the nature of products and needs of customers is changing rapidly. To survive in the future, Dell EMC must have commercial intelligence such as knowing the future trends to decide its supply chain strategy and adapt to the future changes. An idea would be to inform staff on the above mentioned subjects on the frontpage of a company´s own intranet.
Data analysis is one of the most important functional skills in the future, and 82% of companies’ leaders agree that data analytics will be important in the next five years CITATION ama l 6153 81. Companies today do not lack the technology to collect and store data. However, the data itself is of little value. Being able to convert the data into something that can be interpreted and acted upon is what makes it valuable CITATION mcg l 6153 82. However, 53% of companies do not know how to use the data they have CITATION bis l 6153 83. To make use of big data, companies need people with good analytical skills to be data storytellers. These people should be able to turn the data into information for people who make the business decisions CITATION mcg l 6153 82. By improving employees’ data analysis skill, Dell EMC may be able to improve its forecast accuracy and thus shorten customers’ lead time.
7.2 Lifelong LearningIn the face of rapid technological advancements and ongoing organisational and economical shifts, engaging in lifelong learning is essential. Employees need to continuously develop and learn new skills in order to stay up-to-date of the latest technological innovations, which makes learning how to learn a key skill in the future CITATION Lea18 l 6153 18.
The European Commission has identified key competences for lifelong learning such as communication, mathematical-, social- and digital competence, cultural awareness and learning to learn. The latter is described as a meta-competence as it enables people to attain other skills. Learning to learn means the ability to organise one´s learning, to be aware of the process and to build on prior experience when acting in various contexts CITATION HKo18 l 6153 17.
Success in business is learning as fast and continuously as the world is changing. As the economy improves and new ways of working, new technologies and processes and new opportunities emerge, it is essential to fully adopt the concept of life-long learning and the continuing development of the workforce CITATION the l 6153 84. In today’s workforce, higher education is no longer “once and done”. One should never only earn a degree and stop learning. Learning must continue throughout a person´s life.
To make lifelong learning a reality, Dell EMC is advised to offer short-term and targeted training, particularly for mid-career employees CITATION Job17 l 6153 21. Dell EMC must encourage their employees to consider their aptitude, interests and employment ambitions – and only then select the training route that best suits them. Moreover, continuous encouragement and cross-functional team training will make employees more flexible and adaptable to the new changes happening around the world.
By adopting the concept of lifelong learning, Dell EMC, and by associating the employees within them, will be agile and therefore, could rapidly respond to changes and innovation in the future.
7.3 Global Operations
This chapter entails the recommended strategy the consultant team proposed in regards to the global operations to Dell EMC. Moreover, the future skills required for global operations will also be covered in this chapter.
7.3.1 Global integration – local responsiveness’Think global, act local’ is a phrase widely used in business nowadays. This means that organisations should answer the needs of their local markets and do so by improving their operations locally – but keeping in mind the global strategy of the company, therefore focusing on the bigger picture. With global supply chains and an international brand name, standards become higher and quality more consistent and reliable. However, it is the local customers’ needs and requirements that will shape the marketplace CITATION the1 l 6153 85.Although a shift from regional planning to global planning is possible – the creation of a unified, truly global team requires redesigning existing processes and careful crafting of a global strategy. The new, global strategy would need to be aligned with needs of the regions it would serve, and this could be especially difficult to achieve. This is especially true when we consider international teams and the geographical distance, counties’ legislation, sometime even software incompatibility and especially cultural differences. Therefore, introduced in section 3.2 of the report CAGE framework, could be especially beneficial when measuring differences between countries before redesigning operations. Key decision criteria such as access to markets or consumers trends should be evaluated and assigned ranking. Only matching criteria should be considered as suitable CITATION cag l 6153 86.
Implementing a global strategy is also challenging due to communication errors. Although latest technology enables cross-country communication, it does not help with understanding of the messages as they are being exchanged internationally. Global teams are much more vulnerable to communication noise than local teams.
Psychological noise is more present in local teams and refers to the way individuals perceive and interpret conversations. Global teams face the challenge of both the psychological and cultural noise CITATION Owe17 l 6153 61. For example, there is a difference in how Asian countries and Western countries perceive time. The word ‘now’ means ‘immediately’ in Asia, but it may signify that a task needs completion in near future in the United States.
Therefore, in order to make international operations and global teams work successfully, there is a greater need than ever to build a common culture – and not just using a common language CITATION Owe17 l 6153 61. To increase the effectiveness of communication in an international setting, it is necessary to determine the most appropriate channel or medium. Ideally, bringing people together to increase their chances of building trust and getting to know one another is proven to decrease communication errors as it allows people to be able to read the non-verbal cues, such as body language 90.
7.3.2 Skills for global teamsGlobal virtual teams are teams whose members are geographically distributed, thus using electronic means instead of face to face interaction to work together CITATION mal l 6153 87. As a result, global virtual team members not only need skills that traditional team members should have, they also need extra skills to handle these differences. The figure below shows the skills required in a global setting.
Figure SEQ Figure * ARABIC 7 – Global skills set frameworkCultural intelligence
As global team members are from different cultural backgrounds, it’s important for them to have cultural intelligence. Cultural intelligence is not only about having knowledge of different cultures, it’s also about having the ability to adapt one’s behaviours quickly to new cultures which are not aligned with his or her own. Global members should respect cultural differences as there is no right or wrong cultures, there are only different cultures CITATION Owe17 l 6153 61. Another important aspect of cultural intelligence is to be careful to avoid stereotype, as individual personality may vary largely even within the same culture CITATION Tho11 l 6153 71.
Growth mindset is helpful in terms of increasing global teams’ productivity. One obvious advantage of global teams is that diverse groups are far better at creating good ideas than cohesive groups. According to McKinsey, firms in the top one fourths for ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely to outperform CITATION Owe17 l 6153 61. To make use of this advantage, global team members should be open-minded and be willing to accept new ideas and ways of working.
it’s important for global team members to have pattern recognition. As conditions vary from countries to countries, global team members should be able to spot the consistent pattern of success. They should not only learn from their own experience to know what works and what does not work, they should also look at other success models, and be able to adapt to new patterns of success CITATION Owe17 l 6153 61.
Global team members should know how to collaborate virtually. For example, they should know how to build relationship through technology. As global team members have less opportunities to talk face to face about their personal life and experience, it is more difficult for them to build relationship with each other. To overcome the obstacle, they can try using the first five minute of a virtual meeting to talk about their personal life and achievement to get familiar with each other CITATION mal l 6153 87. Another method to build relationship through technology is simply trying meeting more frequently through video conferences. Although it will not feel the same as face-to-face meeting, at least it can make the interaction more personal. Besides, global team members should also have related technical skills so that they know how to set up a virtual meeting and how to troubleshoot when things break down CITATION Liu l 6153 88.
As team members in global teams are isolated from others and lack stimulation from others, they may not know what to do and lack motivation. Therefore, leaders in global team should know how to motivate team members remotely. They should give team members result-oriented task with specific deadline CITATION Liu l 6153 88 and recognize team members’ achievement in time so that team members do not feel their contribution is overlooked CITATION mil l 6153 89.
ConclusionsThe future of work is the future of the society and the economy, and it is a bright one for employees that manifest the concept of lifelong learning. Technological proliferation requires a flexible workforce that rapidly adapts to changes.
Whilst the report at hand recommends Dell EMC an infinite skills framework, entailing interpersonal-, cognitive-, communication- and functional skills, it is important to repeatedly stress that Dell EMC is advised to constantly reassess the status quo and act upon it. No one knows what the future holds, but one thing is sure: an agile company that embraces changes and lifelong learning is set for business success. With technologies advancing at such fast pace and partly overtaking human labour, it is crucial that human beings will not put a machine´s above a human´s judgement. Human beings are unique creatures that are formed by experience and are capable of complex emotions. Artificial intelligence should therefore only be seen as a helping hand to improve productivity and hence, overall business performance and by no means, with the goal to outsmart and replace us, human beings. Ethical boundaries are imperative and at the current state with no regulations, it is a company´s responsibility to discuss how, and to which extend, to incorporate the latest technologies.
Investigating the future skills required at the Dell EMC supply chain department, has its limitations. One cannot predict the future and the next digital revolution might just be around the corner. Whilst the consultancy team believes in the practicability of the proposed future skills framework, it might be outdated in the future. That is why the concept of lifelong learning is so essential. The latter serves as an impetus for further research on how lifelong learning can be best implemented in a business context.
With respect to consolidating the planning operation into a united, global operation, there are some uncertainties. Although having one team strictly designated to conducting the planning activities could free up the regional teams from the need of conducting market analysis; in the long term, it is the regional centres that have the best access to the customer trends and market analysis. Many international companies have recognised the value of global integration and local responsiveness, as it enables greater visibility and helps ensure better customers service. Keeping the planning operations regional also helps to ensure that the risks are spread out throughout the regions. Having just one global planning team could increase the severity of problems, if encountered.
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8 Disciplines Problem Solving Process
Report compiled by:
University: UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School
Program: MSc Supply Chain Management
Date of delivery: July 27, 2018