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Over the course of history, there have been famous divides that shaped society: East and West Berlin, Caesar and Brutus, and even Sonny and Cher, for pop culture enthusiasts. However, one of the most prevalent divides in our modern day is a simple one: the generational demographic divide, with each generation being heavily fueled and influenced by different trends and technologies.

These same technologies are playing a large part in increased process efficiencies and advanced digitalization in supply chains around the globe, and many are asking what the key ingredient is to fast-track these processes. Simple, one word: Gen-Z.

Now, I may be biased being a Gen-Z-er myself, but, as we ask the daily question of ‘what is the future of work?’, let’s take it one step further, and ask, ‘what does the future generation of supply chain leaders look like?’

Mobile Phones are the New Office of the Future

Nine hours. This number may seem like the average hours of daily work for most employees, but for Gen-Z, it has a different meaning. For the new generation of workers, this number represents the average hours of daily screen time, including the use of multiple devices, from television to video games to their smartphones.

For senior managers, this statistic may be worrisome, sparking concern regarding productivity levels driven by young professionals. The stigma surrounding smartphones in the workplace is a thing of the past and there’s a solution to this worry: let them be on their phone. Yes, you heard that right – let Gen-Z use their phones at work. Don’t fret, it won’t be used for scrolling social media, but instead, to promote advanced optimization and digitized processes in their supply chains.

Supply chain, specifically warehousing, can be deemed far from a glamourous job so how can warehousers attract and retain new talent? Easy - through devices and technology they already know and love. With advanced mobile phone solutions, users can utilize apps, right on their own smartphones, tailored to warehouse operators’ needs to perform critical warehouse tasks wherever they are, supported by the latest contextual awareness and visualization features.

Managers and executives can now attract the newest wave of talent by promoting and utilizing technology has become second nature while simultaneously accelerating their digital transformation journey. The way I see it – it’s a win-win.

View the Workplace Through a New, Augmented Lens

Ever wish you could do a dry run of tasks before they became mission-critical? Or have advanced training in handling hazardous materials without putting yourself in harm’s way?

3D visualization technology solutions allow users to see a piece of equipment through a whole new lens; with these solutions, users can view a piece from all angles, including the interior and with real-life dimensions, allows for easier judgment if an object fits into a specific environment. This type of technology is changing the way companies work.

In addition to this, it can turn all factories into smart factories by embracing the new wave of technologies. In a recent episode of The Future of Supply Chain Podcast, guest, Mike Lackey, Global Vice President, Digital Manufacturing at SAP, spoke about an innovative factory that transformed their workplace into an immersive experience; he speaks about the Innovation Lab, where ‘every employee has to spend an hour a month in that room; it’s talking about what they’re [doing] from a manufacturing standpoint, from a business standpoint, it showed lean concepts. It was educational and they had a computer in the middle, where they took tests, but they were interactive’; Lackey goes on to state that ‘they went the final mile. [Workers] walk out of that room and they’ve got ideas, and at the end of it, [they ask] how can we be better?’

The use of immersive technology and gamification opened the door for steady employee development, technical growth, and strengthened purpose within the company. Augmented reality and emerging technologies have the potential to revolutionize the supply chain and Gen-Z is ready to lead in that revolution.

Become a Tech-Savvy Trailblazer to Attract the Next-Gen

recent study by Dell Inc states that 80% of Gen-Z aspire to work with cutting-edge technology, and when it comes to choosing an employer, 91% say that technology would influence job choice among similar job offers. Rightfully so – this generation has grown up seeing constant technological evolution, and we want to have a hand in the next generation of change.

Knowing this, how can companies tailor their workplace to not only attract this fresh, new talent, but retain and empower them throughout their career? Simple – through digital transformation and a new sense of purpose.

While the generation has a growing list of qualities that define the demographic, one of the strongest is their belief that technology is the driving factor in addressing the most complex societal challenges, we, will face moving into the future.

With that, companies should not shy away from this transformation, but instead, utilize Gen-Z as the catalyst to harness the potential for digital growth, success, and innovation.

Read the IndustryWeek paper to discover how a transformative Industry 4.0 approach enables manufacturers to become future-ready to build anything, anytime, anywhere.