Supply Chain Digitalization, ESG, and the Enigmatic World of AI 

Nulogy’s Christine Barnhart joins Sarah Barnes-Humphrey to talk about how the industry is leveraging digitalization and AI to create a smarter, more resilient supply chain.

Christine Barnhart, Chief Marketing & Industry Officer at Nulogy
WRITTEN BY Christine Barnhart

Any time I get to chat with my friend, colleague, and Let’s Talk Supply Chain host, Sarah Barnes-Humphrey, about the supply chain industry’s latest happenings, I know it’s going to be a good day. So, of course, when she asked me to join her on the Thoughts and Coffee webcast, it was a no-brainer! By the way, if you missed our last discussion, I highly recommend checking it out.

In this latest chat, we honed in on trends in the supply chain industry related to digitalization, ESG, and AI. Let’s dive into specifics now. 

Does the acronym ESG give you the ick?

The positioning of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) has been a topic of debate  in our industry for some time now. Sustainability reporting and criteria quickly evolved from a “nice to have” to a “must have” but now we are seeing some companies backpedaling. What’s up with the ESG rollercoaster? 

Sarah and I wonder if the problem is that ESG is simply going through some growing pains. In the absence of a universal definition, companies are using the term in different ways and it’s creating confusion in the marketplace. The misuse of ESG and related terms can also have regulatory implications, as seen in the EU, Canada, and the U.S., where the Securities and Exchange Commission is preparing to finalize its climate risk disclosure rules. 

Sustainability office

The term ESG is also wrapped up in politics and 2023 was a watershed year for the so-called anti-ESG movement. Sarah and I understand why it’s becoming a sensitive subject in our industry and one that some companies would prefer to steer clear of in business. We also see that the term is increasingly being used to signify responsible business practices and integrated business planning – which is really all it was meant to mean in the first place, right? 

At the end of the day, all businesses should be held accountable for their practices and operate in a way that’s sustainable in nature, and if that means we need to establish a common definition to all get on the same page, then we’re on board. 

Can technology like AI solve labor shortages?

It may or may not surprise you to learn that significant labor shortages are a problem in 76% of supply chain operations today. If you’re in the industry, however, you’ve probably struggled with workforce issues to some degree in recent years and are well aware of the situation. What I found surprising, though, is how widespread the issue is.

The talent gap in manufacturing and other industries was set to increase by 2030 well before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s only grown wider after the fact, considering many people who left their jobs ended up not returning for one reason or another. 

Although labor shortages aren’t necessarily breaking news, opportunities to solve them remain top of mind. Sarah and I agree that the first step is to understand the unique business problem you’re trying to solve and then apply solutions strategically.

We’re hearing all about these huge layoffs, but then we’re also hearing that there are millions of unfulfilled job positions. So, does that imply that there’s a reskilling problem? How much time will that take and will it build a more resilient supply chain ecosystem? Is this where AI fits in? 

What are your thoughts about AI in the industry? Comment below – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Check out Nulogy’s latest ebook!

Collaboration between brands and suppliers is essential for success in our fast-paced world, and we here at Nulogy believe that the secret to building strong external supply chains lies in synchronization. I’m pleased to get the word out about Nulogy’s latest ebook that takes a deep dive into this topic, with a focus on helping you thrive during periods of economic uncertainty. 

Me to We: Supply Chain Synchronization eBook cover

Working in an orchestrated ecosystem where external supply chain partners can collaborate in real time isn’t a pipedream; it can be a reality. This ebook is for companies managing external supply chains who are interested in digitally synchronizing with their partners for improved responsiveness, fulfillment rates, and customer satisfaction.

The last time Sarah and I got together, we discussed women in the supply chain and the importance of building a tribe. I’m always looking to expand my little tribe and would love to connect on LinkedIn. Until next time!

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