Coronavirus: Secure Your Supply Chain with CDX

As you’ve likely heard, 2,000 passengers and crew aboard the Holland America cruise ship Westerdam are being allowed into Cambodia after having been stranded at sea, spurred by fears that the ship could bring coronavirus into another country. This isn’t an isolated case; a ship is also docked at Yokohama with confirmed coronavirus cases. 

It’s not just the leisure ship industry that’s taking a hit on the open seas. According to the Wall Street Journal, the coronavirus toll on shipping has reached $US350 million a week, representing the removal of 350,000 boxes from global trading. Troubles extend beyond ocean freight: truck drivers are camped in their vehicles waiting to unload cargo that will never show, or will be processed late due to staff shortages and highly inaccurate (or missing) shipping data. The origin of that inaccurate data? Lanes that have been blocked or rerouted because of the coronavirus.

In a day and age when manufacturers, retailers and others are trying to model themselves after Amazon’s supply chain, the truth is few are really prepared for coronavirus or even less severe disruptions (weather, economy, supply, etc.). In fact, most are dealing with regularly occurring minor events that defy their ability to align supply chains with customer demand while minimizing production shortages or, conversely, excess inventory. 

The rub, however, is that most supply chains are built on static data, static systems, and static methodologies. Therefore, their ability to dynamically respond (let alone react intelligently based on business and other constraints) is hampered, often severely. Customer service and planning teams - buried in even more spreadsheets and post-its - have to work often long overtime hours just to try to address the influx of additional “exceptions.” The bottom line: billions of dollars of lost sales, written-off inventory, expedited freight expenses, loss of productivity, and manual workarounds that become “standard operating procedures” in a fragmented, static supply chain.

In a world where fewer than 70% of international freight shipments arrive on time and 25% veer off course (metaphorically) in some way, there has to be a better way. Many transformation-minded businesses have adopted a data-first approach, which is great if the data is high quality, timely and accurate - otherwise, you’re just applying analytics, software and domain knowledge to bad information. Garbage in, garbage out. 

A Continuous Delivery Experience (CDX) approach, adopted by Fortune 500 and other retailers and manufacturers, continuously ingests new data and, on the fly, dynamically cleans, corrects, and canonicalizes supply chain data. Machine Learning algorithms reconcile and triangulate data. This builds a stream of continuous data that helps businesses adapt plans on the fly, continuously re-plan, and figure out in real time how to optimally move freight from A to Z (delivery), and then provide customers and partners with trusted, accurate information about where the freight is in the journey (experience) - even when disasters like coronavirus threaten to rip the duct tape off already patchwork supply chains. 

Check out this WSJ article to learn more about this differentiated approach to digitally transforming the supply chain.

By Todd Rollin

Alejandro Saavedra