Covid-19 crisis shows supply chains need to embrace new technologies

containers_

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Frederic Laluyaux, president and CEO , Aera Technology.


Hospitals desperate for supplies and empty supermarket shelves have become hallmarks of the coronavirus pandemic worldwide. While governmental decisions and factory shutdowns have attracted most of the blame, the crisis has thrust the widespread confusion that plagues global supply chains throughout the year into the global spotlight.

Put simply, entities throughout a supply chain, from manufacturers to retailers, all too often don’t have a firm hold on just how much they need to be ordering, creating, shipping, and selling. Yet they’ve shied away from technologies that could help turn this around.

“Many companies have yet to leverage big data analytics to transform their supply chain operations,” Professor Nada R. Sanders of Northeastern University wrote in her book Big Data Driven Supply Chain Management. “Many are awash in data but are unsure how to use it to drive their supply chains.”

Through my work helping Fortune 500 companies improve their operations through new technologies, I see these problems at play all the time. But the coronavirus crisis has magnified these problems to a massive scale – and made solving them more urgent than ever.

I’ve heard from leaders of manufacturing companies who are unclear whether a business, such as a hospital system or grocery chain, has made one order for something or three different orders for the same thing. Amid the panic, some organizations are mistakenly putting in multiple orders without realizing it – and are unprepared to pay triple the cost.

Other manufacturers are unclear as to whether some vendors have been hoarding materials such as hand sanitizer or masks and storing the excess in warehouses. Some vendors are hoping to drive up prices for desperately needed goods, while others are simply doing the same things consumers do – “panic buying” things they fear they’ll run out of. Some manufacturers have little sense of whether the amount vendors have ordered matches the amount the vendors are selling to consumers.

This problem isn’t driven by human error. Supply chains have become so complex that only machines can do the work of keeping track of all this information. To ease the burden, supply chains need to leverage key technologies. Among them? Cognitive technology.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

How exploring new technologies solves these problems

Cognitive technology is defined by one source as “a field of computer science that mimics functions of the human brain.”

Here’s a simple way to think of it: Pull together as much data as you can from your company and other companies in your industry. Then, apply artificial intelligence to that information in a way that approximates what you, as a human being, would want to do with it. (This is why cognitive automation involves a combination of “big data” and AI.)

With cognitive technology, supply chain data and transactions from some of the world’s largest corporations can be loaded up to a single place in the cloud. There, the numbers can be crunched and key lessons derived, such as:

● Exactly how many orders anyone in their company has put in for any good or service

● How much of what they need is being manufactured, how much is on the way, and where it is in that journey

● Whether the amounts of products being ordered match the amounts people are buying

These results can revolutionize operations. Throughout this crisis, I’ve seen companies with cognitive technology in place be able to make better, quicker decisions. They have the information they need to adjust their strategies in real time.

Such technological readiness is essential for agility – which, in turn, is essential for building strong industries and a strong economy.

How to advance operations now

Amid the ongoing crisis, business leaders have a great deal on their plates. But adopting new technologies will be important to weathering future disruptions.

For some, this may require a mindset shift. Far too many businesses have avoided taking advantage of new technologies because leaders are confused or overwhelmed by them. This is understandable. But as experts note, new mindsets that embrace technology are important to keep businesses on the cutting edge.

Businesses should ensure that someone on their team is always keeping abreast of new developments disrupting their industries, in order to stay aware of the opportunities available.

The key is to build a business culture in which an organization is always willing to change and embrace new technologies – even those that may make some people uncomfortable.

The time we’re living in is filled with confusion. But it also offers unprecedented ways to cut through some of that confusion. The more businesses seek clarity, the more prepared the world will be to face the many challenges that lie ahead.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This is what a planet-wide network of ocean sanctuaries could look like

Everything you need to know about Ireland’s economy (Post Brexit)

This Central Asian lake is a stark reminder of the impact we have on the planet

IMAGINATION, FACTS AND OPPORTUNITIES – THE UNLIMITED POWER OF CHINA

Western Balkans: MEPs take stock of 2018 progress

Parallel downfalls of Merkel and Deutsche Bank threaten Germany and Europe

International Women’s Day 2019: more equality, but change is too slow

Asylum seekers in Sri Lanka fear for their safety, in wake of Easter Sunday terror attacks

FIAT Chrysler: from Geneva Motor show to the World, and back

Public consultation: Commission seeks citizens’ views in preparation of new European Democracy Action Plan

Commission supports normalisation in Greece through activation of post-programme framework

Arctic policy: EU opens consultation on the future approach

How to look after someone with coronavirus

Facts and prejudices about work

Why we need different generations in the workplace

G20: Less growth, more austerity for developing countries

Syria: At least seven children killed in yet another airstrike

Why Renewable Energy is an attractive investment

Von der Leyen on Coronavirus Global Response: World stands united against coronavirus and will win

Towards a tobacco free India

Libyans continue ‘spilling their blood on the battlefield’ as fight for Tripoli rages on

New Iraqi Prime Minister-designate urged to act on reforms and accountability

2021-2027 EU Budget: €378,1 billion to benefit all regions

Making the most of our ‘extra time’ – for ourselves and society

What’s needed now to fight COVID-19 – Updates from today’s WHO briefing

UN lauds special chemistry of the periodic table, kicking off 150th anniversary celebrations

OECD sees rising trade tensions and policy uncertainty further weakening global growth

How India’s new consumers can contribute to a $6 trillion opportunity

EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: €5.6 billion out of €6 billion now allocated in support of refugees

Brussels to point the finger to Washington for lack of commitment over TTIP

A poor kid died just now. Do you know why?

Security Council approves ‘historic’ political Haiti mission, ending UN peacekeeping role in the country

10 start-ups that are helping to change the Arab world

Efforts to save the planet must start with the Antarctic

Norway’s electric car market has overtaken traditional vehicle sales

Samsung’s profits fall as cheaper smartphones gain market share

Thousands of health professionals call on world leaders to prioritize a greener future, post-pandemic

Portugal can use its economic recovery to build up resilience

Spain locks down, Denmark shuts borders – today’s COVID-19 updates and expert analysis

Car bomb attack on National Police Academy in Colombia, ‘strongly condemned’ by UN

Spotlight Initiative – EU and UN fight against domestic violence in the Pacific region

EU opens a third antitrust file against Google

Why Eurozone can afford spending for growth

The European Parliament floating over the South China Sea

This wristband tells you what food to buy based on your DNA

UN spotlights wellbeing of seafarers on International Day

Does the West reserve the fate of Libya and Syria for others? How does this relate to the EU’s Neighborhood Policy?

Monday’s Daily Brief: the future of food and digital tech, labour justice in focus, denuclearization, and Kosovo

FROM THE FIELD: Faces and Voices of Conflict

Germany not famous for easy way outs from political stalemates

Terror attacks strike people ‘from all walks of life, the UN included’

Spring 2019 Economic Forecast: Growth continues at a more moderate pace

Is the EU competent enough to fight human smuggling in 2015?

FROM THE FIELD: Hardy seeds bear fruit to protect Colombia’s environment

How do we build an ethical framework for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

European Commission kicks off major EU trade policy review

Zimbabwe facing man-made starvation, says UN expert

Trump’s Russophiles under investigation, Europe remains ‘en garde’

UPDATED: Guterres condemns armed attack against UN peacekeepers in Mali

South Sudan: UN condemns ‘brutal’ sexual assaults on roads to Bentiu

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s