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Supply chain recovery post-COVID-19: Risk, disruption and tech

 

Learning from past supply chain disruptions

In the 1990s, supply chain management was a hot topic. As globalization became the new normal of the time, companies moved manufacturing to lower-cost countries across the globe. Business technology implementations were focused on integrating and providing visibility to these new global supply chains.

In the 2000s and 2010s, however, much of the world had put its attention on newer technologies. E-commerce entered the global conversation in the 2000s, while the 2010s saw the rise of cloud computing, predictive analytics, blockchain and other technology innovations. Supply chain management was largely in the shadows of these exciting new technologies.

But when COVID-19 disrupted the delivery of essential goods such as food, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and even toilet paper, virtually everyone gave the supply chain more attention.

Supply chain vulnerability shouldn’t have been hard to spot. But hindsight is always 20/20. Procurement departments are constantly tracking tariffs, geopolitical, weather-related, and other catastrophic risks, but they didn’t anticipate the magnitude of a pandemic such as this one.

Looking at the state of current supply chains, it is clear that companies had the intelligence to know that they had concentrated too much supply chain risk in too few areas. They failed to recognize the tradeoff between lower cost versus flexibility and adaptability. Yet most had the data at their fingertips — either in their ERP systems, supply chain management software or other technologies.

 

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