The corona crisis has revealed what was already clear to logistics experts. Thanks to the blessings of the digital age, supply chains can be made more resilient. Anyone who misses this crucial point is in danger of being left behind. More than ever before, decision-makers need to look at how they can make their supply chain management more transparent and what questions they should ask themselves in this area.
The year 2020 is not yet history, but already at half time the International Road Transport Union (IRU), an interest group for global road transport, was forecasting a loss of 550 billion euros in the industry it serves. The corona pandemic has clearly demonstrated the risks that disasters of various kinds can pose to the globalized world economy. Few people will believe that these globally dramatic events represent a unique experience that should simply be quickly forgotten on the one hand, and on the other hand will not leave a clear mark on the world. So that – within this not widely spread line of argumentation – the fields of life affected by the epidemic, and that were almost all of them, will simply return to normality after the acute (medical) emergency situation has been overcome.
Logistics as the bloodstream of the economy never quite stopped pulsating, even in the most uncertain phases of the crisis, but it could not remain unscathed either, because it is also a seismograph for the economic status quo, as the IRU figures show. The industry will therefore have to ask itself what it can learn from the experience of this derangement and how it can become more resistant to stress. It will be increasingly asked by all its clients what it can do to strengthen the resilience of supply chains in the future. For example: What is needed to make the system less susceptible to failure? How can we make our supply chain visible from start to finish? What are the prerequisites for more security or which services can be purchased on the market for this purpose?
Digitization of central importance
In connection with these questions, in almost every conceivable context at least an essential part of the answer is: Logistics needs more digitization. Closely related to this statement is another important word – transparency. Company bosses, board members and department heads on the shippers’ side, or those responsible for logistics in industrial and commercial companies, can make appropriate supply chain management decisions above all when they have all the important information they need.
During a precise inventory analysis, which many companies were forced to carry out in the course of the corona crisis, many companies realized that, first of all, there is still a lot in this field that is in a muddle. Secondly, it became clear that existing structures cannot simply be replaced overnight – even if the will to do so exists. Companies like Synfioo, which have set themselves the goal of bringing transparency to supply chains, must therefore develop solutions tailored to the actual conditions in the industry. These should either create uncomplicated digital structures, where analog work has dominated up to now, or program interfaces to their own IT systems in order to integrate themselves into an existing software environment without any problems.
In many companies, the procurement department plays an important role in modernization measures. The financial pros and cons of investments are calculated there for the higher decision-making levels. Learning from the experience of the corona crisis, it is important to create awareness that spending money on modern IT solutions, for example, may be a strain on the budget at the moment. However, the proverbial ostrich effect (burying one’s head in the sand and hoping that the danger will somehow be averted) usually means that the next emergency situation will be just as difficult to respond to adequately.
For this reason, Synfioo decided in the middle of the crisis year to give access to one of its products, the OnTime Navigator, for 30 days without payment (an offer that is still valid, by the way). This allowed companies to try for one month without risk the immense benefits that real-time supply chain visibility generates for managing their own logistics processes. Based on the experience gained, it will then be much easier for logistics managers and buyers to get the “green light” from decision-makers for investments in this major field.