The COVID- 19 pandemic severely affected and disrupted the global supply chain and the transportation of goods and materials across all sectors. While this breakdown can be attributed to policy decisions and the closing down of manufacturing facilities, it has brought to the fore key issues that supply chains also face at almost any given time leading to major inefficiencies and similar disruptions. 
A new report from the IBM Institute for Business Value, “Covid 19 and Shattered Supply Chains”, highlights that the pandemic has revealed vulnerabilities in global supply chains, causing unanticipated chaos, while emphasizing a need for resilience and smarter systems based in AI, automation and blockchain technologies.

Key Covid 19 Learnings: 

• Stakeholders in the supply chain do not have the necessary tools to assess the quantities that they need to create, order and ship based on sales forecasts. 
• The few organizations and supply chains that did endure the lockdown attribute it to the fact that it was their adoption of technologically focused systems that helped them to thrive and survive.
• The adoption of technology and predictive analysis could be a key game-changer here. Organizations must gear themselves up to adopt techno- intelligent systems so as to be prepared in case of any similar situations in the future. 
• We will continue to witness lesser public gatherings out for entertainment, shopping or dining. These activities are economically impactful. The Internet will play a key role here. For the online marketplace to function, logistics will be the focus areas as demands for hyperlocal logistics and door–to–door deliveries ramp up. 

Transforming supply chains by incorporating technology: 

Businesses need to be aware of the changing dynamics and deliver according to the demands of this new consumer behavior. Companies at the forefront of adopting technology to implement newer and faster processes will receive a bigger pie of the business. 
As such, companies will be open employ and leverage technology to optimize people and process resources, meet the new emerging demands, and mitigate risks in the supply chain delivery model.
  
The technologies to look out for will focus on 
• Free flow of information and data-driven systems
• Artificial intelligence
• Cognitive intelligence
• Automation and Robotics.
•3D Printing
• Drone Deliveries

Supply chain and logistics companies need to re-do and overhaul their systems.  Digital tracking on a real-time basis, route alerts, route optimization, enhanced navigational capabilities and focus on safety and security of man and goods are the immediate needs of the hour. 


 (Source: allerin) 3rd party image

Value-added Services for deliveries:

The transport and logistics industry is by default prone to various risks. With social distancing being the new norm, the delivery model will see ongoing efforts like 
• OTP based contactless deliveries
• Mobile & digital payment transactions
• Real-time Tracking and Relaying of Information 
• Drone deliveries in the near future 
With Covid-19, these will ensure risk segregation and mitigation, which can only be conducted with technology.

Resource and manpower optimization through technology: 

Supply chains and logistics are, now more than ever, prone to the vagaries of the socio-economic and business scenarios. With the massive exodus of migrants and laborers, supply chains will face challenges vis-a-vis manpower resources.  Here, emerging technologies like blockchain and robotics can and will play a key role in ensuring smooth and seamless continuity. 
Real-time trace and track systems, 24/ 7 visibility, and total control on operations will make the systems more agile. Control on operations through integrated logistics, maintain low inventory levels and correct demand forecasting, financial forecasting and resource optimization will facilitate clean and more efficient processes leading to quicker decision-making, thereby impacting bottom lines considerably.



Spotlight Areas: 

Transferring the consuming work of data inputs and analysis to artificial intelligence systems, employees can move their focus onto tasks that are more impactful and value-added to their personal and professional growth. 
Organizations can look at minimizing and mitigating the risks of supply chains assisted by thereby allowing for more cautious planning and less volatile decision-making. Integrating teams around smart workflows will help to calibrate the business flow more effectively so that it can meet the ever-evolving needs rapidly and efficiently. 

The Route-Ahead:

So the case definitely is in favour of adopting new technologies.  Embracing technology will be the crucial aspect to separate the leaders from the rest of the competitors. The key is to work in a business environment of continuous innovation and technology is a part of the work culture. 

The customer is King- an oft repeated but most truthful statement as without the customer there can be no business to talk about. Today, effective and responsive communication is the key to customer delight.   Companies are offering real time updates and redressal of queries to customers to improve customer satisfaction.  While it has been a time of crisis, many learnings too have emerged leading to innovations, and improvisations leading to better long term sustainability for companies.


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