Supply Chain Disruptions  Problems and Solutions - Watch: Supply Chain Disruptions: Problems and Solutions

The last year and a half have been rife with supply chain disruptions. Amy Thorn, chief executive officer of the Distribution Business Management Association, says the crisis has brought a new awareness of the importance of global supply chains to economic health.

“What hasn’t been disrupted?” Thorn asks. No part of the supply chain has escaped the effects of the pandemic and ensuing congestion over the past few months. The crisis has elevated public awareness of the importance of global supply chains to an unprecedented degree, with strategic discussions taking place in boardrooms and the C-suite. “They realize that without the supply chain, there’s no business,” Thorn says.

This newfound sense of awareness will spur major investments in supply chain and infrastructure, she predicts. Robotics and other aspects of automation will play a major role. It’s essential that planners address the bottlenecks that are occurring at every stage of the supply chain.

Expect to see permanent changes in the labor market, Thorn adds. Many businesses will operate in a hybrid environment in which workers have more freedom to move between the office and home. The result should be a boost in labor productivity. At the same time, though, companies need to reach out to students who are still in college — the so-called leaders of tomorrow — and convey the message about the value, importance and security of a career in supply chain. “People are realizing that you always have a job, and you save lives,” Thorn says.

Collaboration among supply-chain professionals will be essential in the years ahead, even if it takes place in a virtual setting. “The medium has changed,” says Thorn, “but the message remains the same.”

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