Why AI and Robotics Fail to Conquer Supply Chain Challenges

Technologies such as Artificial intelligence (AI) and robots alone cannot save the day when it comes to fixing supply chain problems. While many organizations = believe that these advanced technologies can make sure everything runs smoothly, from getting raw materials to delivering products to customers. But according to experts at Gartner, that’s not entirely true. They say that relying solely on technology won’t solve the decline in supply chain productivity.

According to a recent survey conducted by Gartner, titled the Global Labor Market Survey,  2,613 supply chain employees were asked about their work challenges. The results were quite surprising:

  • Only 25% of the supply chain workforce is fully engaged. That means most workers aren’t really invested in their jobs.
  • Turnover in the supply chain function is 33% higher than before the pandemic. More employees are leaving their roles.
  • Just 16% of the supply chain workforce is willing to go the extra mile and do more than what’s expected of them.

So, why can’t AI and robots fix all the supply chain problems on their own? Let’s find out.

Technology has its limits: Technology has done wonders for supply chain management. It has brought automation, data analytics, and AI tools into the picture, which have improved efficiency, visibility, and decision-making. But relying solely on technology overlooks the complexity of the problem.

The human element: Supply chain operations involve many people, like suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and customers. Technology can make things easier, but we still need human expertise and collaboration. Skilled professionals who can make smart decisions, manage relationships, and adapt to unexpected situations are crucial.

Process optimization: Technology can automate and optimize parts of the supply chain, but it’s only effective if the underlying operations are well-designed. Even with latest technology, inefficiencies and bottlenecks can hamper productivity. Organizations need to regularly review and improve their strategies to make lasting progress.

Dealing with change: Introducing new technology often means changing the way organizations are structured, their culture, and even employee roles. But people can resist change, which can prevent the successful adoption of technology and limit its impact on supply chain productivity. It’s important to have a comprehensive plan to manage change effectively and make the most of new technologies.

Taking a holistic approach

To tackle supply chain productivity challenges, organizations need to take a holistic approach that considers people, processes, and technology. Here are some key things to focus on:

Developing talent: Hiring and training the right people is crucial for supply chain success. Organizations should identify individuals with the right skills and provide training to enhance their abilities. Encouraging collaboration and sharing knowledge across different roles can create a culture of continuous improvement.

Optimizing processes: Regularly reviewing processes and using lean principles can uncover areas that need improvement. By eliminating bottlenecks, reducing waste, and streamlining workflows, organizations can boost efficiency and productivity. It’s important to involve everyone in the supply chain to ensure everyone benefits.

Collaboration and partnerships: Building strong relationships with suppliers, distributors, and logistics providers is essential for supply chain productivity. Transparency, coordination, and agility can be achieved through collaboration. Embracing technologies that facilitate collaboration and data sharing can create a responsive and efficient supply chain network.

Continuous improvement: Organizations should establish ways to monitor and evaluate supply chain performance on an ongoing basis. Key performance indicators (KPIs) can help identify areas that need improvement and measure the impact of interventions. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, organizations can adapt to changing market dynamics and stay ahead of the competition.


While technology undoubtedly plays a vital role in improving supply chain productivity, organizations must recognize that it is not a panacea. Addressing the underlying challenges requires a holistic approach considering the human factor, process optimization, and collaboration across the supply chain.

By investing in talent development, optimizing processes, fostering collaboration, and embracing continuous improvement, organizations can unlock the true potential of their supply chains and overcome productivity declines. Organizations can achieve sustainable supply chain success in the increasingly complex business landscape through a balanced integration of people, processes, and technology.

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