Making supply chains stronger, more resilient and responsive in 2021

In 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic transformed so many aspects of everyday lives, and it impacted supply chains across all industries. Consumers and businesses began paying more attention to the supply chain as lockdowns and other measures – and panic shopping – led to delays, disruptions and shortages of product.

In 2021, as the pandemic-related uncertainty continues, the supply chain remains an ever more important topic for businesses and their leaders as they focus on making their supply chains stronger, more resilient and more agile.

In a recent interview in DC Velocity, CJLA CEO Ed Bowersox was asked what he considered most important for companies to focus on now in their supply chains. “Companies must focus on strategies for building robust, resilient supply chain networks that can respond quickly to dynamic change,” Bowersox said. “It is time to accelerate plans and strategies focused on increasing visibility, innovation and automation.”

Other industry experts echo Bowersox’s remarks as they discuss the challenges facing supply chains and report on the trends they see. “In 2021, the focus must be on preparing for the unpredictable and strengthening supply chains across the globe,” Dr. Madhav Durbha, Group Vice President of LLamasoft, said in Supply Chain Digital. Durbha expects to see change in businesses’ resiliency to risks and disruptions. He describes CFOs as being increasingly interested in the ways supply chains can support business growth and reduce financial risk.

Developing more agile supply chains is a 2021 trend covered in multiple industry sources. Writing in SupplyChainBrain, Dan Weinberger, CEO of Morpheus.Network, discussed the need for agility as an important learning from the pandemic for the supply chain industry. “The supply chain has to be flexible enough to absorb any shocks, major or minor, that comes along its way,” he said. “This includes natural disasters and unpredictable demand.”

As they continue their customer-centric focus on making their supply chains stronger and more responsive, businesses will be exploring technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning), blockchain, IoT (internet of things) and big data, robotic automation and more. According to SupplyChainBrain, they might also be looking at smart contracts, transaction protocols that are meant to execute when certain conditions are met automatically, and at layering multiple technologies.

In “Seven Supply-Chain Trends to Watch in 2021,” Weinberger emphasizes the vital role of technology for supply chains in these unprecedented times. “By embracing innovation in the form of various technologies, the industry is all set to face the challenges in the times to come and help businesses achieve greater operational efficiency,” he said.

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