Want to hire the next generation? It’s time for a software update.

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Move over, Millennials. Generation Z is entering the workforce this year. The first members of the cohort, born between 1997 and 2012, are ready to be wooed by recruiters, but they aren’t impressed by the free food, ping pong tables and start-up style workspaces that once wowed Millennials. Instead, they want something simpler: state-of-the-art workplace technology. Nowhere is this more important than in the supply chain.

The supply chain recruiter’s dilemma: How to compete with digitally-savvy companies

“Should I accept this offer at Tech Company A or this offer in Supply Chain at Company B?” You see this question come up again and again and again and again in online forums for supply chain planners. The challenge for these recruits often boils down to one thing: Which job will prepare me for a long and successful career? New graduates feel like success is certain in the tech sector. They will join a well-known brand, learn cutting-edge capabilities and receive a large paycheck. But tech’s popularity has also increased awareness of its drawbacks, like long hours, fiercely competitive work cultures and the high cost of living in tech hubs. Gen Z recruits see an alternative to tech in supply chain, but a less certain one. They appreciate that supply chain planners have career longevity and the flexibility to work in a variety of locations. However, they encounter stagnant technology in their first internships and in entry-level job descriptions. Many worry — rightly — that starting out in supply chain won’t give them opportunities to develop the technical skills they need for professional advancement.

91 percent of Gen Z-ers say that a company’s technological sophistication matters

Gen Z is the first generation of true digital natives — the iPhone was released in 2007 when the oldest were 10 years old. Many believe their professional success will depend on the technological skillsets they have, and they expect workplaces to help them cultivate those skills. Ninety-one percent of Gen Z-ers say that a company’s technological sophistication would affect their decision to work there, according to research conducted by David Stillman and his son Jonah Stillman, authors of Gen Z @ Work: How the Next Generation Is Transforming the Workplace. But supply chain operations lag behind. “Sixty-eight percent of planning is done on Excel spreadsheets, and… planning of a complex, non-linear system cannot be done very well in an Excel spreadsheet,” says Lora Cecere of Supply Chain Insights.

The future is not spreadsheets

Eliminating Excel spreadsheets may be the one area where change management is easy and straightforward. Despite the widespread use of spreadsheets, they're not a beloved supply chain planning tool. They are a workaround for other, more complex systems. “The Baby Boomers like myself, we’re more comfortable with the traditional environments, which were hard to use, but we’re seeing a declining satisfaction with supply chain planning tools,” says Cecere. Most planners understand that Excel isn't a sustainable solution either. "You really cannot model constraints and bottlenecks very well in Excel and most of our organizations have very complex supply chains where Excel is just not equal to modeling," she adds. In Cecere’s surveys of supply chain professionals, she finds that supply chain planners from all backgrounds are ready for software that’s modern, easy-to-use and capable of performing complex analysis without Excel.

Supply chain planning for all generations

The good news is that spreadsheets and technological sophistication don’t have to exist apart. Concurrent planning software like Kinaxis® RapidResponse® combines the functionality of a workbook with cloud-based computing, so data is always online and always updating. Planners can run complex forecasts and what-if scenarios within the application without exporting, analyzing, and emailing Excel spreadsheets. And software like RapidResponse integrates with the platforms Boomers know and love, like SAP and Oracle, while playing nice with the new generation of services, like Salesforce and AWS. Learn more about the importance of eliminating outdated processes — and bringing in new, user-friendly software with Excel: The frustrating reality of supply chain planning on SAP IBP.

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