Future Digital Roles Will Reinvigorate the Manufacturing and Supply Chain Industries

Dec 26, 2017
5 Min Read
Future Digital Roles Will Reinvigorate the Manufacturing and Supply Chain Industries

Future Digital Roles Will Reinvigorate the Manufacturing and Supply Chain Industries


Old manufacturing and supply chain jobs aren’t coming back, but three new role categories that maximize the impact of digital technologies can replace them.

A recent Manpower survey of 14,000 employers found that most organizations expect manufacturing to be one of the sectors most heavily impacted by digitization over the next two years. The study asked participants what they’re doing to keep up, and the upshot is that most leaders aren’t burying their heads in the sand!

Upskilling related to digital transformation is an enormous priority, with two-thirds commenting that they are investing in internal training, and 40 percent bringing in outside experts to build their digital workforce capabilities.

According to a corresponding report produced by Manpower and research institute UI Labs, The Digital Workforce: Succession in Manufacturing, the technology conversion of digital transformation is easy compared to moving people, culture, and leadership forward fast enough, and success here depends on understanding the emerging role categories in digital manufacturing and design.

In their Job Role Taxonomy, UI Labs and Manpower identified three types of roles that will most heavily impact succession of the conventional manufacturing industry as it grows through Digital Manufacturing and Design technology (DM&D) adoption: pioneers, keystones, and producers. “As companies are executing plans to advance DM&D, this framework should become key in considering what roles to grow, position, or leverage to achieve business goals,” said the report.


The Pioneers

Pioneer roles in DM&D establish primary digital capabilities and play broader roles initially that can lead to related yet more specialized roles. People in these roles tend to learn and evolve rapidly as they hold both general and specific responsibilities. Examples in this category include Digital Twin Architect, Manufacturing Cybersecurity Engineer, and Product Life Cycle Quality Data Specialist. About a quarter of the DM&D role community is comprised of these forerunner roles.


The Keystones

Working across the broad view of DM&D activity, people who hold keystone roles have capabilities that are critical in influencing broader processes and the outputs of others. Keystone roles will naturally be smaller in number, but they will exert a significant impact on the growth and performance of an organization’s digital manufacturing and design operations overall. Roles like Factory Automation Manager, User Experience Designer, and Product Life Cycle Quality Data Manager are examples of keystone roles that serve as central hubs for complex workflows.


The Producers

Producers represent the largest contingent of the DM&D role community (60 percent of workers). They can be in any function or at any level (e.g. technician, engineer, entry-level, manager). Producers amplify given resources and convert them into value for the business, Responsible for much of the continuous work output of a manufacturer, they enable the ecosystem to flourish. Digital Design Specialist, Digital Manufacturing IT Systems Analyst, and Digital Product Manager are among the roles within this category.

If you lead a manufacturing or supply chain organization and are struggling to conceptualize where you are today and where you are headed with respect to DM&D workforce development, this taxonomy should help you examine the blend of capabilities you currently have as well as those you need to hone. While the manufacturing and supply chain professions are changing quickly, with the right roles and training in place, there’s no need for any of your people to feel in danger of becoming obsolete.


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