Rethinking the Supply Chain

Staying Connected in Times of Uncertainty

Executive Summary

Rethinking the Supply ChainSupply chains have always been subject to unexpected shocks. Sometimes these disruptions are local and relatively discreet: a particular supplier gets acquired or goes out of business; regional dynamics disrupt transportation or access to materials. Sometimes, as we’re experiencing now or as we saw during the financial crisis of 2008, these disruptions are global in nature.

While companies have continually prepared for supply chain disruptions, their approach to this ongoing challenge has evolved over the past decade. This process has been driven by technology on many fronts—the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud and edge computing, and advanced data analytics in particular. These technologies have provided companies with powerful new tools for forging deeply collaborative relationships between supply partners.

Shared visibility and robust communication are the cornerstones of this collaboration. They are also key to helping companies anticipate and adapt to supply shocks, whatever the scale.

Thanks in part to the technological innovations just mentioned, supply chains have become increasingly complex. We have seen growing specialization across the supply chain, with more and more companies devoting themselves to specific niches in design, manufacturing, testing, assembly, and service.

SpecializationOn the other hand, having multiple tiers of suppliers creates new challenges when it comes to keeping teams on the same page during the new product development (NPD) and new product introduction (NPI) processes. Communication and maintaining a single source of truth connecting all supply partners are key.

This brief examines how forward-thinking companies have created visibility across the supply chain, streamlining communications and fostering strategic collaboration by using connected technologies and cloud-based resources. These innovations in supply chains are even more relevant given the disruption caused by COVID-19.

We hope you will find it provides a framework for thinking through the current challenges we are facing and it offers practical guidance for overcoming them.