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How CIOs Can Take Control Of Supply Chain Crisis With Better IT Infrastructure

Here’s what we’ve learned from helping our customers and their CIOs navigate and fix the gaps in their supply chains:

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There is little that the pandemic has left unchanged in its stride. From straining the healthcare system to slowing down previously thriving industries, it is the headwind compelling businesses of all sizes to re-think their growth strategies. 

Closer to home, India also faces its own set of challenges with navigating the pandemic. That said, we are also witnessing encouraging signs of an economic recovery indicated by a GDP that is expected to grow by 9.2% this fiscal year1 driven by a revival in services and manufacturing. At the World Economic Forum held at Davos this year, India also extended its commitment as a reliable partner in the global supply chain as it works to incentivize investments and production.  

However, as supply chain leaders have realized during the pandemic, going from ‘point A’ to production is not always straightforward: shortage of products, surges in commodity prices, decline in customer loyalty and imminent inflation rear their heads as bottlenecks in the industry’s steady effort to rebound. While organizations are swiftly adopting digital transformation to tackle the global supply chain crisis head on, they have a long way to go in the quest for better-managed, resilient IT infrastructure. 

As a company, we have spent decades working with customers to digitize their global supply chain operations. It is amply clear that organizations need to utilize the right technology frameworks to help them make faster and more informed decisions across their entire IT infrastructure. Adopting digital methods and technology in manufacturing for “Industry 4.0” also requires cross integration right from product development and purchasing, through to manufacturing and logistics, and it drives changes in processes and capabilities within the supply chain.  

Here’s what we’ve learned from helping our customers and their CIOs navigate and fix the gaps in their supply chains:

First, don’t pretend it’ll get better by itself. Even if your supply chains are up in order and you’re already implementing the right demand forecasting solutions, every tech leader still needs to become a student of their supply chain and take notes. That means getting to know who your freight border and shipping representatives are, across all agents and components of the supply chain. Clear communication, not just technology that helps you communicate better, is key to getting commercial teams and partners to prioritize and assess their supply chains and their products. And, when it comes to communicating, be straight with your business leaders and in turn, that will help them better communicate and work with their customers. 

Second, assess your technology portfolio and build your product roadmap. To understand your desired future state, first assess your current state. Examine how robust networks, artificial intelligence (AI), and edge computing capabilities can help you understand exactly what the pain point in your environment is and how to immediately be able to connect with customers before they become former customers. These functions include accessing and scaling troves of unstructured on-premises data across a scattered network, then automating data processes through AI-driven critical risk models that can identify vulnerabilities and mitigating structural risks in real-time. Implementing Internet of Things (IoT) enabled solutions, through inexpensive sensors and controllers, is fuelling enormous volumes of data from the manufacturing process. All this data needs to be available in real-time supported by enabling technologies such as Blockchain, IoT, machine-to-machine systems, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and Digital Twin solutions through a robust, optimized, and integrated network. 

Keep in mind that storing data across multiple IT estates and moving it between partners and third parties can leave companies more vulnerable to cyber security risks and data breaches. Assessing infrastructure solutions that support the ability to protect data even when it leaves your platform is crucial. 

Third, identify, invest, and capitalize on the right digital strategy at the right time. For supply chain networks, this long-overdue infrastructure overhaul has been the source of bottlenecks that brought us to where we are today. We live in a “new normal” of global epidemics, natural disasters, and infrastructure deterioration. It becomes important to prioritize your needs. Just as your company can’t get everything it wants shipped today, you also can’t implement all the IT changes you need to make immediately either. Increasing operational efficiency is a matter of skills investment, as well as bringing in advanced technologies. Several CIOs we have worked with tell us that their biggest challenge is IT infrastructure management, and they’re correct. They often don’t have enough skills, security, or resiliency to make the changes they believe are essential to compete in a tightly constrained market. 

Whether the world’s supply chain “normalizes” in a post-COVID economy, it may take far longer than most businesses or consumers desire. If your organization is lagging, the time to accelerate your IT transformation journey and improve your logistics and supply chain management is now. To speed up the process, finding the right technology and infrastructure services partner is the answer to complex and compounding supply chain disruptors for many companies today. The partnership between talent and technology will be fundamental to bridging these gaps because it performs many of the critical functions underpinning a truly robust, reliable, and connected supply chain in 2022. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Hussain Zaidi

Executive Director, Growth & Transformation, Kyndryl India

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