How a Human Centric Approach Enables Successful Adoption of Supply Chain Technology 

Human-centric approach in supply chains
How a Human Centric Approach Enables Successful Adoption of Supply Chain Technology 

Share

Like what you're reading?
Subscribe to our stories.

As supply chains evolve into more digital and automated ecosystems, the influx of technologies offers several opportunities to enhance operational efficiency and decision-making. However, without a human-centric approach, these technological advances risk underutilization due to resistance from the very people they are supposed to help. A human-centric approach ensures that technological solutions are implemented seamlessly, embraced, and optimized across the organization.  
 
In this blog, let’s dive deeper into understanding why a human-centric approach is essential and the challenges and strategies to overcome resistance to technological adoption. 

Understanding the Need for a Human-Centric Approach

The rapid integration of advanced technologies across supply chain operations can often encounter significant hurdles, such as resistance, misunderstanding, and underutilization. These challenges are frequently aggravated when the deployment focuses solely on technological advancement without considering its impact on the workforce. A human-centric approach addresses these issues by emphasizing the adaptation of technologies to enhance and complement human efforts, not merely to replace them. 

“These technologies don’t need to be complicated. It should be like how we started using smartphones—one day there was a cell phone, then a smartphone, and we all just evolved with it. It became second nature. Technology in supply chains should also just slide in and make life easier.”

– Ninaad Acharya, Co-founder & CEO, Fulfillment IQ

Adopting a human-centric perspective ensures that technology integration supports the workforce, facilitating smoother transitions and greater acceptance. This approach allows employees to engage meaningfully with new systems, ensuring that technological enhancements work for them, not against them. 

The benefits of a human-centric approach are:  

  • Enhanced Collaboration and Morale: Technologies designed with user input and consideration improve trust and morale among staff, fostering a more collaborative and innovative work environment. 
  • Increased Adaptability and Resilience: A workforce that is well-integrated with technology is better positioned to adapt to changes and challenges, ensuring long-term sustainability and resilience. 
  • Optimized Technological Utilization: When employees are comfortable and proficient with new technologies, the utilization rates improve, maximizing the investment in technology.

“Instead of just instructing operators to follow the system, we should ensure the technology is easy and safe to use. This enables employees to go home safely to their families.”

– Ann Marie Jonkman, Senior Director of Global Industry Strategies at Blue YonderQ

Challenges in Adopting a Human-Centric Approach to Technology in Supply Chains 

Integrating a human-centric approach to technology within existing supply chain operations presents a unique set of challenges that organizations must navigate to ensure smooth adoption and effectiveness. These challenges can significantly impact both the implementation process and the long-term success of technology initiatives.  

The challenges are:  

1. Organizational Resistance: One of the most significant challenges is overcoming the inherent resistance to change within organizations. Employees may feel threatened by new technologies, fearing job displacement or the demands of acquiring new skills. Addressing these concerns requires thoughtful change management strategies that not only reassure but also actively involve employees in the transformation process. 

2. Bridging the Skill Gap: The introduction of advanced technologies often creates a gap between the current skills of the workforce and the skills required to maximize the new systems. Developing comprehensive training programs and continuous learning opportunities is essential, but it also demands time and investment, which can be substantial. 

3. Aligning Technology with People: Ensuring that new technologies align with the users’ needs and the company’s operational workflows can be complex. It requires a deep understanding of the day-to-day tasks and challenges faced by employees, which can sometimes be overlooked in the rush to deploy the latest solutions. 

4. Sustaining Engagement and Adoption: Initial training and introduction of technology do not guarantee ongoing engagement and adoption. Continuous efforts are needed to integrate technology into the natural workflow of the organization, requiring persistent leadership support and regular feedback mechanisms to adjust and improve the tools in use. 

5. Cultural Shifts: Adopting a human-centric approach often necessitates a cultural shift towards more agile and collaborative work environments. This shift can be challenging for organizations with a strong legacy of hierarchical or siloed structures, where rapid adaptation and cross-functional collaboration are not the norm. 

6. Cost of Implementation: While not unique to human-centric approaches, the costs associated with reconfiguring systems to be more user-friendly and training employees can be a barrier, especially for smaller organizations. Balancing cost with the expected ROI of technology adoption is a critical challenge that requires careful planning and management. 

“Overcoming organizational resistance to change is a significant challenge. Addressing these concerns requires thoughtful change management strategies that actively involve employees in the transformation process.”

– Ninaad Acharya, Co-founder & CEO, Fulfillment IQ 

Strategies for Human-Centric Technology Adoption in Supply Chains 

Successfully integrating a human-centric approach to technology within supply chains requires a thoughtful blend of strategic initiatives and practical solutions. Here’s how businesses can effectively address the challenges and ensure that technology enhances, rather than disrupts, human work: 

1. User-Centric Design and Development: Prioritize user experience (UX) in all phases of technology design and implementation. This involves collaborating with end-users to design systems that are intuitive and meet the actual needs of daily operations. Technology should be seen not as a replacement but as a partner that supports and enhances human tasks. 

2. Tailored Training and Engagement Programs: Develop training sessions that are not only informative but also engaging and responsive to user feedback. Training should highlight how technology acts as an aid, improving job quality and reducing strain, thereby positioning technology as a tool for empowerment rather than a threat. 

3. Incremental and User-Focused Integration: Adopt a phased approach to technology implementation, starting with pilot areas where technology can immediately enhance job performance. Allow users to experience firsthand the benefits of technology, which can lead to more organic growth in acceptance and reliance across the organization. 

4. Sustained Support and User Empowerment: Provide ongoing support and create channels for continuous feedback, making adjustments to technology use as needed. Empower users by involving them in discussions about technology adaptation, showing that their input directly shapes their work tools and environment. 

5. Empathetic Change Management: Use empathetic change management to help users see technology as a partner. This involves clearly communicating the benefits of technology, how it complements their skills, and how it can make their work easier and more impactful. 

6. Building a Collaborative Culture: Foster a workplace culture that views technology as a collaborative partner. Celebrate successes achieved through technology and highlight stories where technology has significantly assisted or improved work processes. 

7. Prioritizing Security and Trust: As new technologies are integrated, emphasize the security measures being taken to protect user data. Building trust is essential when users must adapt to new systems that handle sensitive information or alter their workflow. 

8. Flexible and Adaptable Technological Solutions: Implement flexible technologies that can adapt to various needs and expand as user proficiency grows. Modular systems that users can customize or adjust themselves can enhance the sense of technology being a responsive partner in their tasks. 

9. Leveraging Data for User Benefit: Utilize data analytics not just for operational efficiency but also to improve user experiences. Analyze feedback and usage patterns to continually refine tools, making them more effective and user-friendly over time. 

By incorporating these strategies, businesses can enhance the successful adoption and utilization of new technologies in supply chains. Emphasizing user experience and positioning technology as a supportive partner ensures that technological advancements contribute positively to organizational goals and employee satisfaction, leading to a more resilient and adaptive supply chain. 

“Technology should be an enabler for people, making their work easier and safer. Effective communication and change management ensure that employees understand and embrace new technologies, supporting their adaptation and growth.”

– Ann Marie Jonkman, Senior Director of Global Industry Strategies at Blue Yonder 

Conclusion

As we advance into a more digital and automated era of supply chains, the integration of technology must be accompanied by a human-centric approach. This ensures that the workforce embraces and optimizes new technological solutions, enhancing operational efficiency and decision-making. A focus on the human element is key to overcoming resistance, bridging skill gaps, and aligning technology with the needs of employees. 

Dive deeper into the benefits and strategies of a human-centric approach for effective technology adoption with expert insights from the episode of the eCom Logistics Podcast, sponsored by G&P Construction, featuring Ann Marie Jonkman at Modex. 
 
If you are looking to enhance your supply chain operations through a seamless integration of technology with a human-centric focus, our team of experts is here to help. Connect with us today and discover how we can support your journey towards a more efficient, resilient, and adaptive supply chain. 

Book A Call
How a Human Centric Approach Enables Successful Adoption of Supply Chain Technology 

Share

Like what you're reading?
Subscribe to our stories.

More Posts

borde-image image
When to Consider Warehouse Automation: Key Indicators for Your Business 

Ninaad Acharya • 5 min read

Discover key indicators that suggest your business might benefit from warehouse automation and those that might suggest it's not the right time. Explore…

borde-image image
Are You Evaluating Supply Chain Software? Here’s How to Choose Between Custom and Off-the-Shelf

Ninaad Acharya • 5 min read

For companies looking to operate a more efficient supply chain and create a competitive edge, selecting the right supply chain software is critical. Part…