After being officially declared a pandemic earlier in March, the infamous Coronavirus (COVID-19) has created unprecedented panic among the world’s population. For companies across all industries, the lockdown has compelled business leaders to act fast, make decisions in the blink of an eye, and take action to protect workers while ensuring business continuity.
The current priority is to stop the spread of the virus by taking care of people’s health. In the context of COVID-19, the supply chain industry is at great risk. With countries and regions on lockdown, the world’s economy is dealing with unparalleled supply chain disruption. Delivering goods and services to the people is now riskier than ever, and companies must work their way around implementing the best strategies to make sure everyone is served safely, quickly, and securely.
During this time of uncertainty, employees need guidance, too. For all organizations to stay at the forefront, the key ingredient is for business operations to serve communities, employees, clients, and customers.
The time to act is now!
With 94% of companies (Fortune 1000) anticipating supply chain disruption following the COVID-19 pandemic and 75% arguing the lockdown will have a strongly negative impact on companies and businesses worldwide, the one thing left to do is act fast. The scale and nature of the impact will be incredibly dramatic, not to mention, financially devastating for many supply chain leaders.
To survive, the key is to stay focused on end-to-end optimization, monitoring, and ongoing assessment of all processes, operational and otherwise. For organizations that don’t like change and are rather skeptical about digitalization, the pandemic will force them to adapt or die. Short-term business and tactical plans are solutions that must be considered as they can mitigate risks pertaining to the health of people working in global supply chains.
Data analytics to the rescue
There has never been a better time for advanced technologies like Big Data and Analytics to prove their worth. To be able to understand the complexity of the pandemic and anticipate further disruption, businesses must come up with an action plan that encompasses a detailed assessment of current operations as well as a structured outline with on-point recommendations.
For rapid response deployment to occur, a command center must be set in place to adjust operations and ensure a continuous response cycle. Last but not least, ongoing operating capabilities should be backed up by an ongoing cycle of configurations to mitigate risks and optimize results. All actions, regardless of their nature, must also include steps to protect the workforce:
- Place your bets on transparency; set a list of components that are a determinant factor in the origin of supply and don’t ignore alternative sources.
- Perform an estimate of your available inventory across the entire value chain and use that as leverage to maintaining an ongoing production and make sure customers are being taken care of.
- Analyze and optimize both distribution and production capacity to make sure your employees are safe. Protective equipment, working from home capabilities (whenever possible), remote counseling, are all matters that enable leaders to understand the situation better and act accordingly.
- Identify and lock-in logistics capacity; run stress tests to determine cash flow and have a better understanding of supply chain issues causing financial impact.
Minimizing costs, driving up asset utilization, and reducing inventories are among some of the priorities supply chain management should take to survive amid the COVID-19 disruption. The good news is new emerging technologies will rise to trump the linear supply chain model.
To fully embrace connectivity and drive end-to-end agility, visibility, collaboration, and optimization, companies will have to become more open to leveraging technologies like AI, the IoT, 5G, robotics, and DSNs. At full capacity, they can successfully face upcoming challenges and unforeseen events like COVID-19 and other calamities.