Across the world the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed inequalities between the haves and have-nots. Nowhere is this clearer than in supply chain management.
Many companies with global footprints have been caught flat-footed, unable to adjust to the sudden factory closures and supply chain disruptions that began in China at the start of the year. Close to three-quarters of U.S. businesses have experienced supply chain disruption as a result of the outbreak, according to a survey by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).
By contrast, companies with comprehensive supply chain visibility have been able to proactively rework their supply chains. “In the first few weeks of January 2020,” according to a commentary in the Harvard Business Review, “companies that had mapped their supply chain already knew which parts and raw materials were originating in the Wuhan and Hubei areas and, as a result, could bypass the frantic hunt for information and fast-track their responses.”
Supply chain visibility has provided these firms with an early-warning capability, and to some extent, supported prescriptive decisions, for COVID-related disruptions. But what exactly does supply chain visibility today entail? And how do companies go about improving it while contending with tightened budgets amid (likely) the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression?