Mastering MRO supply chains is crucial for many companies’ operating performance. Industrial writer Emily Newton lays out how MRO personnel use AI, data analytics, cloud computing and digital project management tools to keep their supplies in stock.


Emily Newton

Integrating a supply chain with a maintenance, repair and operations program requires dedicated effort and critical skills. People who excel in this role must have strong digital capabilities and be open to using various technologies — including emerging ones.

Here are four top skills that will set people in this industry apart from their peers and ensure success in their careers.

1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has rapidly emerged as a notable technology, particularly as people grapple with item shortages and demand fluctuations. However, anyone who currently works with MRO-integrated supply chains or plans to soon should get some AI skills under their belt and progressively work to improve their competencies.

Predictive algorithms help professionals know which supplies to order and when, greatly reducing the chances of stockouts. Executives are also realizing AI is essential to their operations, which suggests they should see it as an in-demand skill when hiring new team members.


A 2023 poll of C-suite members found that 90% were using AI to achieve better operational resilience. Additionally, 88% depended on it for supply chain enhancements. The potential uses span from interacting with a chatbot to place an order to getting predictions from algorithms about when specific products will sell out or start to run low.

2. Data Analytics

Data analytics skills are also proving essential. Professionals in these roles use them to evaluate the sensor data associated with a piece of equipment or estimate when the current stock of a vital component will be depleted. Knowing how to use data analytics platforms is increasingly important as the number of products moving through supply chains rises.

For example, during a single year, the supply chain for technology brand Lenovo included 2,000 suppliers working to deliver more than 130 million devices. An MRO-integrated supply chain specialist might use a data analytics tool to determine the most reliable suppliers according to their performance across several key performance indicators.

Even if someone doesn’t have strong data analytics skills, they can set a goal to gradually improve in that area. Besides making them more of an asset to their employers, this plan could increase job satisfaction by providing a well-defined career path and growth opportunities. Notably, a 2023 survey found that 84% of employees said clear career paths strengthened their commitments to employers.


3. Cloud Computing

Many leading industrial apps run in the cloud. Authorized users can access them from anywhere, making it easy to check statistics, communicate with stakeholders and more. People also use the cloud to store paperwork or streamline its distribution, such as to approve repairs on specific pieces of equipment or keep track of when maintenance occurred.

Another handy thing about cloud computing platforms is they support remote working arrangements. Even if someone doesn’t work from home all the time, it’s increasingly likely they will eventually. One 2023 survey of Americans found they spend 27% of their workdays at home on average.

Cloud computing tools have some similarities, but people must also learn to work with brand-specific features. It’s helpful for those working with MRO-integrated supply chains to dedicate themselves to learning the ins and outs of cloud software. That might mean using built-in help guides or signing up for provider-offered online courses.

People who grow their skills might spend time mentoring peers or encouraging colleagues to embrace the organizational changes that cloud computing products often bring. This enables employees to become crucial parties that show others how these apps can improve their workflows.


4. Project Management

A continuing commitment to digital skill growth will also put MRO supply chain professionals ahead of their peers. Roles increasingly include time spent with various internet-connected tools and platforms, and many suppliers and distributors prefer digital-only transactions.

Digital project management tools simplify tracking what responsibilities people must handle and when. They also enable smoother communication between various stakeholders, allowing people to comment, upload images or documents, and assign subtasks to other parties.

Once people improve their cloud computing skills, they’ll likely find significant similarities associated with using project management tools. That’s because most of them work in the cloud to make it easier for people to get things done in on- and off-site locations.

Commit to Ongoing Growth

These four skills are among the most necessary in today’s fast-paced and digital-centric world. Anyone involved with MRO-integrated supply chains should stay aware of emerging technologies that could become more prominent in their industry.


Some companies are experimenting with augmented reality to support workflows and improve training. Others use mobile robots to carry supplies around distribution centers and other large facilities. People should pay attention to what’s new in their companies and the industry and be ready to capitalize on new learning opportunities. That will help them prepare for whatever’s ahead while setting good examples for others, bringing their company to the forefront.

About the author

Emily Newton is an industrial writer reporting on how technology disrupts industrial sectors. She’s also the editor-in-chief of Revolutionized, covering innovations in industry, construction, and more.

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