It’s time we face it: As supply chain professionals, we’re working in an environment of perpetual chaos. Inflation continues unabated. Labor shortages are only getting worse. Both consumer confidence and business confidence graphs look like rollercoasters. After 20 months, the Russia-Ukraine conflict shows no signs of a peaceful resolution. And a record-setting 23 separate weather- and climate-related disasters in the U.S. have each caused at least $1 billion in damages in 2023.

It’s not surprising that, in a recent Blue Yonder study, 87% of executives reported that their organizations have experienced disruptions over the last year. It’s clear that disruptions are a fact of life — and our jobs just might require us to succeed amid continuing chaos.

At Blue Yonder, we recognize that it’s impossible to eliminate disruptive events. But we believe it’s possible to purposely and intentionally build a resilient supply chain that’s capable of mastering disruption. We also believe that every disruption comes with both risks and opportunities. Building a resilient supply chain positions you to minimize the downside of risks — and, more important, maximize the upside of opportunities.

Five Keys to Supply Chain Resilience

 In our work with thousands of leading manufacturers, retailers and wholesale distributors, Blue Yonder has personally witnessed the power of supply chain resilience. Based on that hands-on experience, along with our technology expertise, we’ve published an e-book, “The New Must Haves for Supply Chain Resilience,” that outlines five keys to achieving supply chain resilience.

While I encourage you to read the e-book, here’s an overview of the five “must have” capabilities we think are critical for success in today’s chaotic and disrupted world:

1. True end-to-end collaboration and synchronized planning

Too many supply chains are characterized by siloed and sequential planning approaches, managed by mixed tools and systems. They’re simply not built to resolve disruptions in an orchestrated, collaborative manner that maximizes outcomes across all functions. Supply chain resiliency requires process alignment, a unified data model and an integrated, interoperable solution suite.

2. Seamlessly integrated AI and ML for transparent decision-making

A growing number of organizations see the promise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to master disruptions via rapid, data-driven decision making. While companies are investing aggressively in these capabilities, AI and ML will never deliver on their full potential unless they’re seamlessly integrated into existing workflows and processes — part of the organization’s planning and operational DNA. AI and ML must represent a fundamental, transparent decision-making capability that plays an everyday role in resolving disruptions across the supply chain, whether large or small.

3. Supply chain optimization and automation for empowered decision-making

Today disruptions occur too quickly, and too often, for companies to manage them via manual analysis. Instead, organizations need an “always on” solution that empowers them to automatically identify disruptive events and pivot quickly. Resilient planning solutions don’t just react, they predict — and that creates a real competitive advantage. While many disruptions can be handled autonomously, planning solutions should also support accelerated scenario planning and real-time simulations that preview the results of various resolution strategies.

4. A scalable technology platform

Just as supply chain challenges evolve, technology will continue to evolve in its capability to master those challenges — so it’s critical to have a technology platform that’s designed with scalability and extensibility in mind. Look for a flexible, cloud-native architecture; automatic upgrades; a microservices-based approach; easy configurability and interoperability; and a track record that includes hundreds of successful implementations.

5. A trusted partner ecosystem

It truly takes a village to master today’s complex disruptions, which can occur at any time, and at any point in the end-to-end supply chain. Building long-term resilience means finding a best-in-class partner with deep supply chain experience and advanced technology expertise, a flexible platform that’s built for growth, and the ability to create a rich technology ecosystem via its own partner network.

Where Does Your Organization Stand?

So where does your own organization stand with regard to these five core competencies? How prepared is your supply chain to weather inevitable disruptions? If you’re looking for new technology solutions that will help you master disruption, are you sure they’ll deliver all five of these must-haves?

Our new e-book includes vendor assessment criteria that can help you choose the right partner to create true supply chain resiliency. The series of checklists will help you focus on the five keys to supply chain resilience and ensure that you’re actively designing a resilient supply chain with a partner who’s “been there, done that.”

These checklists provide critical questions you can pose to potential technology providers, including:

  • How will the proposed technology platform support you as you integrate, extract and share data, both inside and outside the enterprise?
  • Do your technology solutions enable cross-organizational collaboration?
  • Will your technology enable you to simulate market conditions in near real time, leveraging always-on access to real-world data?
  • Is your technology architecture compatible with AI and performance optimization?
  • What’s the process for updating and upgrading your solutions as new features and functionality become available?

You can use the checklist included in the e-book to collaborate with your team and understand the current state and where you need to be, how existing solutions fall short, and which key capabilities your business needs to infuse in their supply chain to increase resilience, powering performance and strategy.

In considering any new vendor, always ask for reference customers from your specific industry. Every company faces distinct disruptions and other challenges. But a technology provider with a strong track record will understand your industry at a deep level, offering industry-specific configurations and workflows that will dramatically speed your time to results.

Embrace Disruptions via Improved Resiliency

In today’s chaotic business environment, it’s essential for every company to purposely build resiliency into its end-to-end supply chain. After all, revenues, profits and customer satisfaction are on the line. Instead of fearing disruptions and struggling to minimize their consequences, leading organizations are transforming disruption management into a competitive advantage, as they leverage advanced technology to identify the hidden opportunities that come with every disruptive event.

By making thoughtful technology choices to build a resilient supply chain, your company can not only master “macro” supply chain problems such as port closures, but also those smaller, everyday events that often throw off your plans, like a missed supplier delivery. Disruptions are increasing. So should your capability to master them, easily and resiliently.

It’s time to expect more from your supply chain technology, learn more.