Future supply chain disruptions are unavoidable. Digitalized supply chains that run on advanced technologies can help manufacturing organizations assess and mitigate potential risks to safeguard their longevity. 

 The general consensus is that the working world as we knew it is gone for good. Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, organizations were embarking on digital transformation at varying degrees of speed. Most manufacturing businesses understand that digitalization is unavoidable and, if done well, will result in improved efficiencies and renewed relevance – some just thought they had more time to make the transition. The pandemic has not only fast-tracked organizations’ digital transformation journeys (with varying degrees of success), it has permanently pushed operations such as customer engagement online as well as essentially ratified the hybrid remote working model.

In addition to accepting these changes, manufacturers need to accept that global market volatility is here to stay and further disruptions – be they caused by viral, geopolitical and/or environmental events – are to be expected. Rather than hunkering down to reduce exposure, organizations can strengthen their competitive positions (without compromising their ambitions) by ensuring that their entire operations – including their supply chains – are effectively and successfully digitized.

Advanced supply chain planning capabilities

An important learning or reminder from the COVID-19 pandemic is that the future is full of unknowns. Advanced supply chain planning capabilities include smart management tools that can sense disruption and deliver “what if” analyses based on data-driven scenario planning.

“Smart management tools, driven by digital technologies like cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D-printing, artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and automation, deliver enhanced insights which can help organizations mitigate uncertainty and prepare for future supply chain disruptions by improving their resilience and increasing their value creation. However, to harness these benefits, organizations need to acquire and develop digital technology skills and talent.” – Jacques Matthee, Products Director, CCi.

The digitally empowered supply chain

Traditional corporate production systems operate in silos that divide people, practices and processes into distinct teams and departments. A modern production system such as a digital operating system (DOS) breaks down these operational barriers to create a fully transparent and holistic organization. Intelligent, real-time data is easily accessible which enables employees to work together towards shared business goals. Improved accountability improves productivity and, crucially, customer care is heightened thanks to the agility of advanced technologies keeping step with changing consumer demands.

In a traditional setup, the supply chain is viewed not only as a separate silo but as an external entity, something that sits outside the organization. The big benefit of a well-orchestrated digital transformation is that it transforms an outdated supply chain into a strong, smart and interconnected demand-driven value network (DDVN) that aligns the entire organization as one.

Digitally-enabled end-to-end visibility across the DDVN means that a salesperson working from their home office can assess stock levels, engage with customers, communicate with colleagues and suppliers, and respond to requests with the correct, most relevant information. Added to which, all stakeholders – the salesperson, the supplier and the customer – involved in the transaction can track and trace the order at all times and catch any potential issues before they happen. This informed agility and visibility strengthens an organization’s ability to pre-empt and respond to supply chain disruptions as and when they happen.

 A smart supply chain needs smart people

A successfully digitalized organization is immediately identifiable by how it collects and uses its data to make better, faster decisions and solve problems more strategically. This data-driven intelligence depends on two key elements: advanced technologies and digitally fluent employees who can operate them with confidence. The value in intelligent, shareable data is unlocked by people who understand how to action their newly gained insights and knowledge to serve their organizations’ best interests and mitigate the impact of supply chain disruptions.

A technologically enabled, digitally driven organization achieves sustainable success by putting both its data and its people at the center of its operations. Key to this is positive leadership guiding employees’ engagement with the digitalization process, their adaptation to new ways of working and their adoption of digital tools to meet their mandates. Digital transformation is a cultural as well as a technological overhaul of the old, outdated status quo, creating a future fit organization that can respond to changes and disruptions calmly and effectively.

Ultimately, a successfully digitalized organization can reduce its vulnerabilities in the global economy thanks to the power of a smart, strong, integrated and more resilient supply chain.

Download the whitepaper Digital operating systems: The organisational need for guidance to find out how you can fortify your supply chain with a customized digital transformation strategy.

CCi is a privately held global company that enables organizations to deliver sustainable results across the supply chain through TRACC, a continuous improvement solution.