The pandemic has many logistics providers on the ropes. John Garden, vice president of freight and logistics with Mastercard, discusses three key areas on which they must focus in order to survive the current crisis.
Problems in supply chains were already present before COVID-19 came along, but the pandemic has served to highlight those weaknesses. “It’s just one of several shocks that supply chains have experienced over the past couple of years,” Garden says. Others include friction over global trade agreements and, for the U.K. and Europe, Brexit. “Hopefully, the pandemic has been an accelerator for positive change,” he adds.
All of those factors have made supply chain resilience a priority in the C-suite. Supply chains need to be able to withstand and respond to future shocks, as well as take steps to mitigate their impact before they happen.
In addition to the focus on resilience, Garden cites two other top priorities for the freight and logistics sector. One is advancing automation, as a replacement for expensive and inadequate legacy systems. Companies need to break down silos of information through systems that enable visibility across supply chains. New tools draw on cloud-based applications in areas such as freight audit and payment, duty assessment and customs declarations.
A third priority is the creation and maintenance of “ecosystems of trust.” The idea, says Garden, is to establish seamless workflows across supply chain partners. The result is reduced cost of operations and more agile organizations that can better respond to future crises. Regulators, too, are looking for increased visibility into transactions moving across their borders, Garden says.
Future success requires the streamlining of manual workflows and optimizing processes throughout the supply chain. “Driving greater visibility and transparency into the supply chain is ultimately what it’s all about,” Garden says.
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