Technology is taking the guesswork out of supply chain resilience

November 13, 2020 Tradeshift Editorial Team

The experience of COVID-19 is shifting the status quo on how global supply chains should operate. As part of Tradeshift’s Q3 Index of Global Trade Health, we asked Tony Menezes, Managing Partner - Service Line Leader, IBM Services, to provide his perspective on how organizations can take a more proactive approach to handling future shocks.

A recent survey by the IBM Institute for Business Value revealed that many supply chain executives surveyed were caught unprepared by COVID-19 pandemic and had to quickly strategize to help meet demand in response to the confusion and disruption it caused. The COVID-19 pandemic served as a wake-up call to many business leaders surveyed who are now thinking proactively about building resilient systems to help better prepare for future unforeseen disruptions.

You see, so much of modern life appears seamlessly efficient that it can be easy to forget that it rests on a complex foundation. But when disaster strikes, we come to recognize how fragile that foundation is. We have seen this reality hit home hard when people accustomed to full and immediate supplies of goods like meat, toilet paper, medicine and personal protective equipment were shocked to face empty store shelves and long waits.

Many companies surveyed realized their supply chains—many of which are staggeringly complex, involving hundreds of suppliers, providers, and distribution centers across the globe—were much more fragile than they realized. Many chief operating officers (COOs), alert to the possibility of further disruptions in the future, have been using this time since to better understand and find ways to help improve their processes.

Building resilience into supply chains is not a simple task, but there are some steps enterprises can take on that journey, like enhancing traditional sales and operations planning with continuous collaborative planning. For example, IBM can provide an approach to its clients using what’s called the Continuous Intelligent Planning (CIP) solution. This solution is designed to utilizes AI-augmented capabilities to help enable its clients to:

Look forward and see across the entire supply chain and better forecast demand By inputting data from all their sources, companies can see where their products are—in near real -time and in full view—across geographies. AI helps predict potential disruptions allowing you to prepare for them. Replacing spreadsheets—often assembled by hand—with dynamic near real-time data makes demand forecasting much more accurate, allowing you to better stock inventory.

Automating workflows, which helps employees focus on higher-value work Surprisingly, many organizations still use inefficient and resource-intensive planning processes. Using automation can save time and free employees to more interesting work and can drive both cost and operational improvements.

Constant collaboration with ecosystem partners Siloed departments both inside and outside a company can lead to data hoarding and make timely decisions difficult. CIP can allow supply chain leaders to join forces with ecosystem partners to help understand impacts across their joint supply chains in near-real time. Together, they can help determine how to respond to and resolve issues—sometimes before they occur.

By taking much of the guesswork out of their current ecosystem realities and demand forecasts, technology can enable organizations to help drive efficiencies, build resiliency, and ensure that their company is prepared to handle future external shocks.

Read our latest guide on how technology can help accounts payable become a leader in building efficiency and resilience across your supply chain.

About the Author

Tradeshift connects buyers, suppliers, and all their processes in one global network. We help you transform the way you work with suppliers today – and adapt to whatever the future brings.

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