Have You Become a Late Adopter of Technology Like Me?

I started my career almost 30 years ago packing boxes, doing deliveries, counting inventory, pulling parts, invoicing customers, and ordering items to replace stock. I learned on the job. I worked hard and made sure that each day I took on extra work. I was a sponge, and I was motivated. As the years went on, my pace of learning diminished, and I recognized that my skills were stagnating. I needed to look outside my organization to develop my skills.

In my early thirties I became very strategic and goal orientated when it came to career growth. I earned a credential and master’s degree, completed certificate programs, read voraciously, and through that process I saw my competency grow. I am driven to learn, driven to continue to develop my career opportunities, and the drive I had in my early career to add extra value in my role has never faltered.

At the end of each year, I analyze my current role, current competence, and set new goals. In this analysis I recognized a weakness – TECHNOLOGY.

The pace of technology is something that I have been monitoring both as a function of my role, and for personal interest. Through the summer I moderated panels for Supply Chain Canada in our Technology Adoption Series. The series broke down the issues and challenges related to tech adoption. When I did my goal setting for this year, I recognized that when it comes to technology, my skills have stagnated.

To plug this gap, I am joining the first cohort of the Applied Machine Learning Professional Certificate in Supply Chain. I fear that technology is passing me by, and I need to get a handle on it. I need to develop my skills. To be completely honest, this is the second time I am going into a personal growth mode that I feel intimidated and daunted – the first was my MBA. Now, Machine Learning scares. I am not a coder, and frankly I am not sure I have the prerequisite skills. I have been assured by the experts training the certificate program that my fears do not have foundation, but the concern remains.

Machine learning is taking data that we have all captured and analyzed over the years. It does not have to be ‘big’ data or even perfect data. So instead of looking at a snapshot of what happened in the past and attempting to divine the future e.g., a demand forecast, you use Machine Learning tools to model the future thus taking the information out of your rear-view mirror and put it in your windshield, a much cleaner one at that!

It is a game changer. It is not only a powerful tool, but it is cost effective. It will become a pervasive and foundational technology that I believe we all need to learn.

I recognize the need to develop my competence in this foundational technology, but that does not remove one clear and definite fact – I am terrified. I am not a “tech guy”. I have 28 years’ experience in compiling, reading, and making decisions based on data, but I am not an “Excel guy”. For those of you that might feel my pain and concern, I decided to be transparent about the journey I am about to undertake.

I am far from old at 46. With 28 years of supply chain experience I feel I would struggle to get a leadership role in today’s supply chain job market without having a full suite of data analytics competence. I may have many years of experience, but the pace of technology development and adoption is too rapid. I do not want to be left on the sidelines.

From here you can follow my plight in regular installments of this blog. I will be tracking my successes and failures open and honestly. For those of you that are thinking of jumping into new technologies but are fearful you are not tech or data-savvy enough, we can take this journey together. I will do my best to dispel the myths and deny or confirm the concerns I have built up in my mind.

John image for bio Supply Chain Canada


President & CEO, Alberta Institute

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