Saturday, March 5, 2011

Very Interesting Article in NYT: Does Technology REDUCE The Need for Education?

This is really interesting and it may apply in the logistics' field.  Paul Krugman asks the question if technology reduces the need for an eduction ?  He also cites an article in today's NY Times about software which is making a lot of junior lawyers and paralegals' jobs obsolete (combing through documents during the discovery phase). This article is titled: Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software.

So, the question this poses for all of us is as supply chain software gets ever so sophisticated will it reduce the need for much of the higher education currently being used in supply chain management (i.e., Masters in Supply Chain Management, Ops research, etc.).  This is also being debated right now over at Linkedin.  Logistics and supply chain will continue to be extremely important in the firm and the overall structure of a corporation, the question is will the people managing it be that important?

1 comment:

  1. Kevin,

    I think you answered this question yourself on LinkedIn when you mentioned the world's population went from 3B to 7B in 50 years. There is just more there to do.

    The original Watson only thought there would be a hand full of computers. Famous quotes abound that declare all of humanity has reached its pinnacle. One Patent person said that everything that could be patented has already been patented - he said it in the late 1800's.

    What's happening is that all of the non-value add cost is being removed. Unfortunately, some new non-value add cost is always being added (think regulations). But most of work that we do today was unthinkable just a few short years ago.

    If we look back just 20 years ago in supply chain so much has already changed. Dot Com hadn't even made it into the language. ERP's and Best of Breed applications, unfortunately, we also laying the foundation for their applications that still run businesses today. George Herbert Walker Bush was still President.

    So education will not be replaced by technology. Instead, education becomes even more critical. I'm not talking about a quadruple masters in SCM, Operations Research, Legal and Finance, although I'm sure that's what many supply chain executives already possess through experience.

    As an example: collaboration. For decades there have been strategies that call for seamless collaboration with vendors and customers. The goal being as frictionless a supply chain as possible. Yet all these years later every effort has fallen short. Standards based approaches always struggle to reach their potential as the "bar" gets raised too high for most - especially since many customers have different versions of the standard. Integration based approaches always struggle because disparate systems that weren't designed to work together both have tremendous risk, cost and budget/resource constraints to achieve it. Add the fact that if one of the underlying systems changes version, everything has to be redone.

    Achieving collaboration delivers tremendous results. Education, both in the classroom and in the field, have given us the ability to solve the collaboration problem. Now the administrative time that both vendors and customers incur will drop. Inventory levels will be optimized, production will be in synch with demand and customer service, product availabiltiy and product quality will all go up.

    The administrative time spent placing/taking orders, chasing down errors and guessing/forecasting at inventory levels can now be applied to more productive endeavors. There will always be more there to do. Some people will push the boundaries and create the new normal and everyone else will play catch up. With twice the number of people, there must be a couple more good ideas than when I was born.