Why a digital strategy in a post pandemic world is not a choice 

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Our Service Offerings & Thought Leadership team are working closely with the University Of Bath and the students of the MSc in Operations, Logistics and Supply Chain management to investigate the trends driving changes and the common ways organisations are tackling them.

COVID-19 has caused disruptions to businesses across many industrial sectors and this has led to significant challenges to the management of global supply chains. Procurement leaders have an increased focus on managing upstream supply disruptions from tier 1 and 2 suppliers to mitigate supplier challenges, maintain business operations and fulfil urgent and unpredictable levels of demand.    

Innovative technology for procurement leaders

The coronavirus pandemic drove a dramatic shift in IT investment priorities and a significant rise in remote working. This will have a major impact on operations in the long term, with research from PwC (2021) highlighting that more than 65% of IT executives expected at least a quarter of their workforces to work from home permanently after the pandemic. Procurement departments have adopted procurement technology to support their day-to-day activities e.g. supply chain collaboration tools to automate the process to invite suppliers to showcase products and easily communicate order changes in realtime to reduce administrative costs. Whilst robotic process automation works on repetitive tasks, procurement leaders can concentrate on strategic value-adding activities and decision-making rather than more tactical activities such as managing purchase orders. Moreover, machine-learning tools could enhance negotiations by interpreting the clauses in contracts and then using data analytics to provide staff with appropriate recommendations.  This is not new news, but the acceleration of deployment is.   

Recent technology for warehouse operations

Advanced robotic automation technology could improve efficiency and cope with the demand spikes for some industries such as retailers during the pandemic. Kroger, for example, announced the use of software and technology from UK grocery automation company Ocado in 2021 to boost in-store fulfillment of pickup orders. This picking system uses artificial intelligence-powered vision and motion control to identify products, allowing employees to locate goods faster with fewer errors and batch together orders across multiple workers and store zones in the warehouse.  The emerging wave of technology improves the efficiency of the organisation with new ways of working and can also support the transformation of internal operations and new operating models  

However, while the adoption of technology can yield significant improvements in operational performance, there are still challenges in the technology industry. For instance, cybersecurity risks are more likely to increase as a result of more people working remotely. The lack of training of employees towards a new system or process is also an obstacle to implementing technology in procurement and business operations. As we know for any (procurement) transformation project to be successful, people, processes and systems must be fully aligned. 

4C has a long-established history of working with leading organisations on projects from cost optimisation through to end to end supply chain re-design and transformation.  To hear more about our service offerings and capabilities, please contact Allison.Ford-Langstaff@4cassociates.com 


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