Seeking to Optimize Fulfillment. No — the Other Fulfillment

Recently, while posting an article to, I hopped on a photo stock site to find an appropriate piece of art to accompany it, typing “omnichannel fulfillment” into the search box. A slew of photos popped up, most of them including boxes and warehouses and delivery trucks, but the very first option was of a man standing in contemplation atop a mountain, gazing out over the expansive and sublime vista before him.

My first thought was “garbage search engine,” but then it hit me. Ah. Yes. Fulfillment. The other fulfillment.

I was reminded of that incident last month as I listened to Charles Phillips, CEO of Infor, speak about talent and human resources and job engagement at Inforum, the company’s customer technology conference. Among the facts that Phillips shared are these:

*There are more job openings in the United States than there are qualified employees to fill them

*65 percent of employees are not engaged with their work

*The cost of that disengagement is $400 billion annually

How is it possible, with so much advanced technology, that we can still not be capturing so much potential? One reason for this, says Phillips, is that even as people have become more engaged and more productive on an individual level with technology, via smartphones, wearables, and so forth, those productivity gains have not migrated into the enterprise.

In other words, as a whole, business and industry have not yet figured out how to integrate people and technology so as to optimize the different types of value each provides, and that each lends to the other. If you’re skeptical, consider how much time you devote each day to deleting emails from your in-box — which, even though it may not seem that way, are just a small fraction of the 140 million emails sent every minute, to the tune of 2.5 exabytes of data daily, according to Amy Donovan, principal at Deloitte.

While some jobs are better suited to technology, and some to people, says Phillips, the ideal scenario is one where “people and machines work together,” and in which technology is not a deleterious force, but one that enhances and improves employees’ lives. Technology, rather than eliminating jobs, he says, should lower the barrier for entry to allow employees to understand their industries better and faster, and to make better and smarter decisions. Or, as Donovan says, “[Using technology] is not just about leveraging robots, sensors and smart machines, it’s about how to leverage it to be more creative and strategic.”

As Van Jones, host of The Van Jones Show and CNN contributor noted at Inforum, “Everyone has a future in technology.” It’s up to businesses, among others, to harness the potential of today’s youth by offering wide-ranging and inclusive training programs.

Technology also can help to identify the types of tasks, jobs and careers that are best suited to each individual in terms of temperament, personality, leadership and negotiation skills, and so forth.

Infor’s Human Capital Management (HCM) suite includes a survey that helps determine the people that are the best fit for a role, says Matt Bragstad, system architect, who calls it the suite’s “secret sauce.” Built on Coleman, the company’s AI platform, which undergirds the company’s entire suite of enterprise software products, the tool “leverages everything about a person’s record, skills, talent and experience to figure out and understand who is suited for what position and what is the best team make up,” he says. It has a wealth of data to draw from, assessing more than 17 million applicants annually.

AI can process so much more data than a human can, and it can find connections among that data. In other words, says Bragstad, it can unlock the unknown.

AI can allow companies to build teams that work naturally together, made up of people who are “now fulfilling the role that they want to fulfill,” he says.

Why is this important? Because employees who are happy in their jobs stay longer, build connections, produce better work, and contribute to higher profitability.

If you’re not on the road to it already, it’s time to optimize fulfillment.

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