Is this the time for companies to hunker down and delay investing in technology, just to survive current crises? No way, says Shari Christofferson, president of Connect.
In a time of uncertainty and concerns about cost, shouldn’t companies be pulling back on plans to invest in new technology for the supply chain? On the contrary, says Christofferson. While acknowledging that companies are struggling with constrained resources, she notes that they’re also continuing “to push in growth mode.” Their ability to embrace automation to optimize the flow of product is key to their survival, both in the short and long term.
That said, business executives are looking at new technology with some trepidation. Every major investment entails the risk of adversely affecting the bottom line, and stakeholders are demanding a rapid return on investment for every dollar spent. But Christofferson believes there’s a new attitude in the corporate suite, one that has learned some tough lessons from the disruptions of the past several years. “Business has to be solvent for the long term,” she says, and to ensure that degree of resilience, companies need to take chances on technology spending.
It's the job of technology providers to allay those fears while providing a “soft cushion” for companies looking to mitigate the risk of investment. At the same time, the current labor shortage in many parts of the supply chain is serving as a strong message for businesses striving for continuity of operations. Automation, they realize, is essential, not just to replace people but to enhance their performance and improve employee retention. “That’s becoming a huge priority,” Christofferson says.
Investments can, of course, be driven by far-seeing executives, but another way to promote the long view is to assemble a global innovation team that can serve as liaison between front-line manufacturing and warehousing, and the C-suite, she says.
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