COVID-19 influenced 74% of digital supply chain planning transformations

Survey from ToolsGroup and CSCMP finds that companies are noticeably better at managing COVID-related demand and supplier uncertainty after executing digital planning transformations

42% of organisations surveyed by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals said the pandemic has accelerated their digitisation plans[Credit: ToolsGroup]

Just 3% of companies experienced no COVID-related business impact, according to a survey from ToolsGroup and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).

Instead, the vast majority of companies faced difficulties and had to re-evaluate their supply chains, with the result that they increased investment into digital transformations.

In the survey, which questioned more than 200 supply chain professionals around the world, 42% of organisations said the pandemic has accelerated their digitisation plans.

The survey showed among those that said they were 'reaping the benefits of digital transformation', 54% said that they were managing COVID-related demand and supplier uncertainty 'very well'. However, only 13% of those in the 'evaluating' or 'not pursuing' stages reported handling this area 'very well', indicating that digital technology and processes can be effective buffers against disruption to supply chains.

The majority of those surveyed (90%) are somewhere along the digital journey, but the biggest obstacle to this transformation for respondents is the skills deficit among staff, with 41% noting this as a problem. Forty-two percent of respondents also said that they are handing staff/skills shortages poorly or very poorly, underlining how this could put the brakes onto digital transformation in the space. 

The need to increase automation to focus staff on higher-level activities was a top business driver for digitising planning, with 43% noting this. Other key drivers for increased automation were:

  • Evolving customer behaviours and expectations (44%)
  • Improving business performance (42%)
  • Improving customer service levels (39%)
  • Improving reaction to unplanned disruptions (35%)
  • Increasing supply chain resilience (34%). 

"In our 2019 survey, the biggest factor holding back digital transformation was 'fear of change'. Today we see a sharp contrast as COVID-related demand uncertainty has accelerated digitization to enable future resilience," said Caroline Proctor, chief marketing officer of ToolsGroup. "Technologies such as demand forecasting and inventory optimisation, which automate decision making and free up working capital while guaranteeing service, are top priorities for investment." 

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