It's time to move beyond short-term cost cutting to a more strategic approach to supply chain management, says James Hendrickson, president and general manager of Verses Enterprise.
The COVID-19 pandemic placed many companies into “panic mode,” says Hendrickson. But it also motivated them to view their supply chains through a more strategic lens.
It’s no longer purely about saving money in the short term. Companies are beginning to take a more strategic view of operations, with an eye toward becoming more resilient in the face of unexpected disruptions.
Businesses always knew intuitively that their supply chains were the “central nervous system” of global commerce, he says, “but not until it stops working do we pay attention.”
The shift in thinking isn’t easy to do. “Buyers have been given a mandate that feels unnatural to them,” Hendrickson says. “They’re looking at things that are future-facing, but it takes time to get out of this cost-control mode.”
Technology can help, in the form of “Web 3.0” applications. Hendrickson defines the term as comprising such innovations as blockchain, edge computing, virtual and augmented reality, and the internet of things. It’s all about a “more immersive” computing experience, which can operate in multiple dimensions.
Such developments are especially crucial in a time of chronic labor constraints. “Technology can help employers do a better job of attracting and retaining talent,” Hendrickson says. It can “bring us back to the level where we were pre-pandemic — we can use the labor we still have, but need automation just to stay where we were.”
It’s not about getting rid of the human worker, who still excels at many tasks. Technology, says Hendrickson, “can create a better environment for the worker, and make the job more attractive.”
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