Supply chains were on the path to digitalization well before the coronavirus pandemic, but the fallout has opened the eyes of many to significant gaps and shortcomings. This year will bring accelerated implementation of various technologies for businesses of all sizes — and data will be key to post-pandemic supply chains.
Leveraging data analytics will be important for business strategies such as product development, expansion into new regions and achieving financial goals. In addition, company-wide data visibility will allow organizations to make critical decisions like what suppliers to use or what sites, parts and products may be at risk in any given situation.
Visibility will also help tear down internal silos and bring all business partners to the table. This is key during unexpected events — like a global pandemic — when items or services may cost more, and any consequences need to be understood throughout the organization. Compiling business costs into any meaningful analysis is further complicated because of silos.
Business visibility is a step toward agility. The agile supply chain is competent, fast, responsive and flexible in its daily operations. Adopting agile practices enables companies to better handle market volatility, political and economic changes, natural disasters, strikes and other risks that supply chains face. Agile supply-chain practices can also significantly improve performance in industries where the market is unpredictable, customer demand is ever-changing or new innovations are frequent.
The post-COVID-19 era will also usher in more internal and external collaboration among supply-chain partners via video conferencing, business communication platforms and project management tools. Technology used to book, manage and track shipments and payments will flourish as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused companies to operate in the short term, leaving long-term vision neglected in favor of more immediate challenges. Using technology to boost supply-chain visibility and agility, companies will adapt to a post-pandemic environment without sacrificing strategic goals.
Chase Flashman is co-founder and CEO of ShipSights.
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.