The importance of human touch in supply chain

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The human element in supply chain relationships. The special magic that pushes a contractual partnership to greater depth and results. Impossible to cultivate, manage, measure?

From chatting to Alexa in our homes to self-driven cars – Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer science fiction. It doesn’t need refreshment breaks and doesn’t make human errors. However, we still possess a massive employability advantage: the human touch.

In the supply chain, we’re witnessing tech advancements that are playing a significant daily role, such as Blockchain 4.0 and the Internet of Things. However, it’s the soft skills – so often underplayed and even historically undermined – that are rightfully resurging as essential for both procurement and collaborative supplier relationships.

Machines are yet to develop empathy, nor does it seem likely. Empathy is fundamental to relationship management. Taking time to observe what does/doesn’t work and deploying empathy to appropriately predict and manage relationships is a significant contributor to a proactive, versatile and resilient supply chain.

The human brain is more complex than any other known structure in the universe. Made up of billions of cells, it is built for learning. We do not require data for learning. We can learn from our experiences, each other and our environment. Our teams can easily improve their individual and collective experiences via small, simple steps. For example, fear of failure or poor results can be challenged within the safety of our team meeting and learning environments and solutions found together.

There is a huge advantage in making the effort to truly understand the culture of our suppliers and partners – whether that’s national culture or the culture and values of their organisation. Cultural sensitivity and an awareness of the importance of trust and accountability can, in many companies, pay dividends.

These natural human skills demonstrate our care and consideration for our supply chain partners; and it is at this point that relationships transcend the standard contractual constraints and are able to scale great heights. Such skills are vital not just for strengthening partnerships, but for building long-lasting relationships.

True collaboration exponentially drives business, pushing forward with shared belief, shared vision and the innovation and trust to make things happen.

SUPPECO is the combination of human relationships and smart AI technology – a fresh approach to collaborative relationship management within supply chain and the ecosystem.

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