Managing Supply Chain Disruptions: Event Summary Report

On June 29th, 2021, The Economist Corporate Network held the first event of a series of meetings that aim to examine how senior leaders can safeguard their businesses by identifying supply chain risks and how they can turn those risks into competitive advantages. 

New concepts are disrupting business models in a way that makes supply chain management more important than ever. As technologies evolve and companies adopt new strategies for reaching their customers, we find that consumers do not just choose between products; they also choose how to buy them. Customers have a choice of platforms from which to purchase, and sellers must provide a good experience through all of them. Managing the supply chain has become an essential element of the customer experience, but it is especially difficult as the multi-channel sales environment continues to evolve. This discussion will help participants understand how the planning and execution of the supply chain process helps satisfy customer demands. The goal is for companies to turn their supply chain management into a competitive advantage while minimizing the negative impact of new challenges.

Disruptions to the supply chain are the new normal. Some disruptions have a long-term effect that builds over time, much like how rising wages in China led to the movement of some manufacturing to Vietnam. Others may come out of nowhere and carry a long-term impact, such as a global pandemic, or a more immediate effect, like a ship getting stuck in the Suez Canal. The word “disruption” can have a wide range of meanings, and companies need a wide range of possible responses.

Not all disruptions have to be negative. A new regional trade agreement that tidies up a mix of bilateral relationships and creates a consistent system for the intermediate goods market is disruptive, but useful. New technologies are also disruptive, but provide opportunities for enhanced transparency of fulfillment, better management of the “last mile” of delivery, and improved demand forecasting and customer satisfaction. Speaking of customers, their changing buying habits have upended business models and supply chains, but in the process have created opportunities to reach new customers…if only companies can take advantage of them.

In the end, any disruption can be turned into an opportunity, and effective supply chain management can be a growth engine for your company. A seemingly negative disruption that affects an industry gives you a chance to pull ahead of your competitors, if you have the agility to respond quickly and effectively. A positive disruption can improve or create revenue streams, or perhaps allow you to reduce problems such as overstocking or out-of-stock issues. Are you ready to turn disruption into opportunity?

The challenge for companies, then, is to build a resilient supply chain that provides a consistent customer experience while being flexible enough to respond to disruptions. At the same time, it should consist of sustainable processes that help companies make the best use of valuable natural resources while minimizing damage to the environment.

This paper summarizes the key findings of a virtual event on managing supply chain disruptions. The event was held on 29 June 2021, and was chaired by The Economist Corporate Network and sponsored by Accenture and Google Cloud.

To learn more about what was discussed at this event, download the summary paper.