SAN DIEGO—By 2020, almost half of the workforce will be made up of people born in the digital age, Nabil Malouli, VP for global e-commerce in DHL’s supply chain unit, said in a keynote address at Industry of Things World this month.
“This will impact the way we work, the way we communicate and interact with each other, expectations, systems,” he said.
“Now everything that is good comes with some strange behaviors,” he added, showing a photo of dozens of people at a Hillary Clinton rally—all of them with their backs to her. It took a couple of seconds to register why: They were all taking selfies.
Strange indeed. But important nonetheless—because it points to the need for customer-centric interactions, Malouli said.
Consumers are also constantly connected. They can instantaneously search the Web for information that can impact purchase decisions.
“They also want things to be easy—and fast,” he said. “Speed is a key topic, of course, in transport.”
For makers of clothing, like Levi’s, the relationship between supply chain and manufacturing processes is being turned upside down, Malouli said, recounting a presentation he had seen a few days earlier in Las Vegas—from a Levi’s executive focused on the company’s “direct-to-consumer” business.
Malouli shared a photo of a Levi’s distribution center that he noted is “now being used for personalizing jeans that are basically designed by consumers.”
“So in the future, Levi’s consumers would be able to go to the Levi’s app and design your jeans the way you want them. And that manufacturing process, which today is a manual process, is going to be automated.”
“This is a very good example of the evolution of supply chains and your needs for IoT, and how we will connect between the different functions and the different industries that will need to work together in the future.”
Speed is of the essence, especially in mass customization. “That’s something we are looking at very closely,” he said.
“The other element is choice,” and manufacturers must be aware of the fact that “today, more than 40% of search starts on Amazon,” Malouli said. “So the number of choices you’re going to offer is very important.”