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BW Businessworld

Wanted: Managers Skilled In Logistics

Ecommerce has also witnessed a huge surge in demand during the pandemic and these rapid changes in business and commerce have quickly reflected in management programmes.

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Every year business schools get intimated of market demands by industry, so they may course correct their curricula to meet the emerging requirements. The world-encompassing pandemic has led to developments that have necessitated drastic adoption of technologies and alternative styles of working, particularly in ecommerce, which is largely driven by the internet. 

Ecommerce has also witnessed a huge surge in demand during the pandemic and these rapid changes in business and commerce have quickly reflected in management programmes. Recently the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta announced an executive programme for professionals, managers, policymakers, and leaders to build new capabilities focussed on digital currencies and techno-economic disruptions to facilitate more growth in business and profitability. 

Similarly, IIM Lucknow is coming up with a first-of-its-kind programme in talent analytics and human resource management. These innovations in B School curricula clearly suggest disruptions in the business ecosystem. The rapidly evolving ecommerce sec tor suggests that the demand for new skills from this segment of industry will be phenomenal. Future managers engaged in ecommerce will require new skills and management institutes will need to impart these skills to managers of the future. 

The ecommerce marketplace Moglix, which expanded into the United Kingdom and European markets only a few months back, has categorised four crucial areas where management graduates need new skills. To be able to realise their potential in the world of business and to be able to contribute positively to it, management graduates will need proficiency in technology, adaptability, leadership and engagement, according to Moglix. 

Saumya Khare, Director of Human Capital, Moglix, says, “A close collaboration between B-Schools and organisations to develop life-long learning programmes will be useful. Given the accelerating change of pace, those graduating today would probably need to learn new skills every eight to ten years to remain a productive part of the economy.” Given the scale of the problem, the question that arises now is whether the educational curricula of management schools is equipped to meet industry demands. 

Anindya Mallick, Partner, Deloitte India says, “Nowadays, most B-Schools have courses around data analytics, which I think has direct relevance on the ecommerce platform. A lot of how an ecommerce platform operates optimally is based on how they use the data and the machine learning behind it – what kind of stocking is needed, analysis requirement in customer behaviour by age groups, by region and by what kind of profession they are in.” 

According to a report, by the end of this year, the ecommerce market is going to grow to five per cent of the retail market from three per cent now. This implies that a huge population will be dependent on e-commerce. More focus on data analytics is inevitable to enable customers to be served with precision and scope. Ecommerce companies are obviously looking for proficiency in IT- enabled skills in B-School graduates. Other managerial skills that ecommerce companies are likely to look for in fresh BSchool graduates are warehouse and logistics management. 

Mallick has more than two decades of professional experience working with Deloitte’s Consulting Practice and is an expert on education and skill development. He feels that future managers will require skillsets in managing facilitation centres and warehouses. “These skills,” he believes, “will be available partly from what they will learn at the B-Schools and partly from people handling stocks, stocking and stacking.” He says, “It involves maintaining possibly thousands of stock keeping units of various categories of goods that are there.” In July Amazon India conducted a skilling programme across its various warehouses in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. The six-month  training programme focussed on warehousing and inventory management skills for the roles of warehouse associates and process associates. Akash Hegde, Co-Founder and MD, ShakeDeal, points to the need of BSchools to leverage the use of case studies in the tech and ecommerce space to help future mangers better understand the fast-changing dynamics of busi nesses in the digital space. “We need BSchool grads who are not only familiar with the unique business models that come with new-age technologies but are also versed and comfortable with important skills like data analytics,” says Hegde. A major development and challenge has erupted in the ecommerce market involving logistics. Unlike brick-andmortal retail, ecommerce firms have to ensure that the goods being ordered by customers are delivered first from the vendor to the facilitation centre and from there to customer premises.

Secondly, given the pandemic restrictions in place and forced technological adoption, operating models in operating, fulfilment and delivery has clearly evolved. A recent report by Alvaez & Marsal (A&M) India and the CII Institute of Logistics substantiates that view. The report says the customer needs for quicker deliveries and the drive of ecommerce marketplaces to reduce the cost of logistics has brought rapid localisation and regionalisation of the seller base, which has further led to the deepening of the pickup and delivery supply chain requirements from ecommerce logistics companies. According to the report, “Around 40–50 per cent of overall shipments are picked up from fulfilment centres, with the rest directly from sellers. In addition, to drive penetration in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, both captive logistics arms of ecommerce companies and logistics service providers have been working with delivery partners/business associates to add network without the associated fixed costs.” Logistics management skills, therefore, are likely to remain in high demand. The question now is, are management institutions curricula focussed on these skills?