Time will prove that the global Coronavirus pandemic has marked a major inflection point across the entire history of Supply Chain Management. Largely unknown and not understood before the pandemic, Supply Chain’s visibility and importance has seen an unprecedented level of exposure during the pandemic.
Everyone now understands that when Supply Chains fail, much of what enables our personal and professional lives also stops. The fragility of Supply Chains experienced during the pandemic demands improvements in the robustness and resilience of this core function.
It has created a Moment of Truth for Supply Chain. Will companies revert back to their old ways of doing things after the pandemic or will they make the improvements needed for the future?
We conducted our Supply Chain’s Moment of Truth Poll to find out.
Hopes and Fears
In our article, “Supply Chain’s Moment of Truth Has Arrived” we talked about the current state of Supply Chain, the enablers and disablers for both the current and future states, the promise and potential of the Supply Chain Renaissance and the dangers of remaining in the status quo, and finally a call to action.
Our recurrent fear is that as we get past the pandemic, companies will be in denial about their need to change anything and they will be stuck in their status quo and their old ways of doing things.
Our recurrent hope is that conditions for a great new age of Supply Chain advancement, what we call the Supply Chain Renaissance, holds the promise of decades of exciting change and revolution which will shape the future of civilization for the foreseeable future.
Supply Chain’s Moment of Truth Poll
To understand where people are in their thinking, and in their strategies and actions, we conducted a poll to see how companies are positioning their Supply Chains for the future.
In our poll we provided 4 possible responses, which we felt captured the range of action, or inaction, that companies were likely experiencing:
- Reverting back to old ways (aka the Supply Chain Boiled Frog)
- Whether because of denial about the need to change, lack of leadership that can strategize and lead change, or inertia or lack of resources, these companies will just be going back to the ways they have always done things
- Nearing a moment of reckoning
- Beyond dealing with the day to day fire fighting to keep their Supply Chains running, these companies have not taken action yet. But circumstances are coming to a boil, forcing these companies to make future executive decisions as to whether they are going to make changes or just go back to the old ways.
- Recognized need to advance
- These companies have recognized the need to change. Pressures of survival and/or competitiveness have placed these companies at perhaps the hardest step, which is just to recognize that things need to change.
- Implementing future strategies and changes
- These companies have seen the light. They know that things must change. And they have already started on the journey to create new strategies and implement them across their operations and their companies.
The possible responses to our poll were constructed to run the gamut of scenarios that companies or institutions are facing as we move past the pandemic.
While bigger sample sizes will certainly improve the statistical significance of our results, our survey responses are, we believe, directionally correct as to how companies are dealing with the new normal of a post-pandemic reality.
Reverting to Old Ways
In our survey 17%, or 1 in 7 responses, indicated that their companies were reverting to their old ways of doing things. As stated previously these companies may be in denial, they may lack leadership or resources, or they may have miraculously escaped the effects of the pandemic unscathed.
Unfortunately for these companies, future disasters (whether natural or man-made) and competitive and financial pressures will continue to wreak havoc on their operations, ultimately compromising their future survival.
Unless you enjoy jumping from fire to fire and dealing with disruptions every day, these are not companies that hold the promise of providing a long term career. They continue to keep their heads in the sand.
Approaching a Moment of Reckoning regarding future Supply Chain improvements
Similarly as above, 1 in 7, or 17% of our respondents viewed their companies in this category. These companies haven’t yet made the leap to making future improvements, but the continued strains and fallout of the pandemic’s cataclysmic effects are forcing these companies to come to terms with what they must do next.
They may not know what to do, and that may be what is holding them back, but there are enough forces to provide the catalyst for change that addressing this in some fashion is inevitable, and hopefully the sooner the better.
There is the chance that they won’t have the wherewithal to make revolutionary changes, but even evolutionary improvements will place them in better stead for the future.
Recognized the Moment of Truth in Advancing and Improving Supply Chain
These companies have realized and accepted the fact that they must make changes to their Supply Chains. 28% of our respondents viewed their companies being in this category.
This is encouraging. Even though they are at the beginning of the journey to make changes this is entirely reasonable given the long-term, multi-year nature of the changes necessary to create more robust and resilient Supply Chains.
They know that they can’t go back to the old ways. They need to develop the strategies necessary to define the future, and then proceed to rally the resources and create the action plans to construct this new and improved reality.
Implementing Strategies Having Accepted Supply Chain’s Moment of Truth
These companies are the most enlightened and the most advanced. They didn’t think to revert to their old ways. They understand that change is a continual process. And what is most encouraging is that 39% of our respondents viewed their companies being at this advanced state.
They understand the importance of Supply Chain both now and for the future. They see the convergence of technologies, motivation, resources, attention, awareness, and intellectual capability which all provided the foundation for a Supply Chain Renaissance.
These are companies which will be exciting to watch or to be a part of, as they will define what ideal Supply Chains will look like in the future. For us the Supply Chain Renaissance will encompass:
- The Digital Supply Chain
- The Resilient Supply Chain
- The Circular Supply Chain
- Supply Chain as a Service (SCaaS)
- Global Holistic Leadership
- Supply Chain Seated at the Head of the Table
- Technology Everywhere
This is what will make Supply Chain the most exciting profession to be a part of for literally decades to come.
It will be curious to conduct the same Supply Chain’s Moment of Truth poll a year or more from now. As we get further and further from the pandemic the real strategies and actions, as opposed to intentions, will become more apparent.
That being said, it is a sign of hope that 2/3 of our respondents have at a minimum recognized Supply Chain’s Moment of Truth, many of which are implementing the strategies to make this a reality.
As we’ve stated before, anyone in or entering the Supply Chain career path has an exciting future ahead. But as a word of caution, that excitement will be a function of whether their company is embracing and acting on what constitutes the Supply Chain Renaissance.
Being stuck in a company stuck in their old ways will be a painful and unrewarding experience. Demand for Supply Chain professionals will remain very high, enabling these people to pick and choose which are the best companies to be work with.