Supply chain risk: Same title, new chapter

Charts and data
Neil Wheeldon

Neil Wheeldon

Chief Digital and Product Strategy Officer

Supply chain risk has always remained top of mind for businesses and supply-chain executives alike, in fact, even pre-COVID era, and pre-financial crisis, “supply chain risk” remained one of the most searched topics within key supply chain phrases. 

What has interestingly changed is the nomenclature around how we deal with risk. Post financial crisis, we focused on “agility,” the ability to be swift, and nimble, to change and transform in a market where vessels were layed up, orders postponed and slow steaming became the norm (capacity for the bounceback existed!). In the COVID era, “resilience” is the new buzzword, “the ability to bounce back” from the onslaught of challenges. In reality, a practitioner building resilient supply chains is part of the day job, it is how we plan for the future in a world fraught with risk (and indeed evidence suggests we are pretty fixated on risks), but resilience is not a transitory term like agility which seems to have lost its shine.

If resilience is the art of building for the bounceback, agility is a large part of that bounceback strategy – so let’s not lose sight that supply chains need to be both agile and resilient as we seek to define new eras.  

When reviewing the data, it's also interesting to call out a few more trends; supply chain sustainability has increased in importance year-over-year, overtaking cost considerations and becoming firmly (if still underrepresented) in our supply chain thoughts. It's also interesting to see that today, supply chain practitioners have far more topics top of mind than in 2006 representing the current complexity of the industry. 

In a world that is more complex, has more considerations and larger consequences of decisions, terms matter – even the ones that may not be en-vogue.