The 5 Key 'Vs' that Will Shape Supply Chains in 2021

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2021 should be a year of optimism and rebound as we start the process of emerging from bubbles, getting to see postponed movies, enjoying an Olympic/Expo year and setting high expectations for climate engagement in the UN Climate Conference, Glasgow 2021. 

With such optimism will come my 5 V’s for 2021: Vaccines, Volume, Variety, Variability, and Veracity. 

Vaccines: the international supply-chain of everything but vaccines will be impacted by airfreight capacity crunches just providing a single dose to 7.8 billion people would fill 8,000 747 cargo aircraft, whilst land and ocean transport mitigate these volumes we will continue into 2021 with significant capacity constraints across the supply-chain exacerbated by impacts of Brexit in Europe and port congestion in China/US as we talk about the next V. 

Volume & Variability: 2021 will see volumes return as Morgan Stanley projects strong global GDP growth of 6.4% for 2021—led first by emerging markets, followed by reopening economies in the U.S. and Europe, as volume return will not be linear (organisations need to be cognizant that in certain regions vaccine shortages and new COVID spikes may push back demand) and will favour certain sectors over others, organisations will need to continually monitor and adjust demand and supply plans to chase volumes whilst mitigating continued instability within the ocean freight market.

Variety: There could have been no better accelerator for our digital engagement and creativity than COVID-19, and 2021 will be a year when the variety of solutions pre- and post-COVID world in the technology space will offer new possibilities in areas such as Blockchain maturity, AI integration for digital networks, more IoT devices, maturing of Robotic Process Automation, improved conferencing capabilities and wider connectivity solutions for supply-chains to name some on-trend topics. Organisations will need to consider the best capabilities that will enable an exodus to work from home, enable automation, enable foresight and agility, which is where the final V takes flight. 

Data

Veracity (conformity to facts): much of 2020 was about projections, predictions, and gut feel, winning organisations in 2021 will see veracity as the watchword evaluating demand as it is sensed, reacting based on data (learned hard from 2020) and selecting from the myriad of technologies/solutions those combinations that can deliver the maximum combined supply-chain value.

So, in short for 2021: Vaccines will act as the drumbeat for global supply, volumes will return but not linear, there will be variability in supply and demand as economies emerge from or enter lockdowns/cope with Covid economic legacies, there will be a myriad of technologies to choose from where the winning organisations will choose the right mix of capabilities to manage for a more certain future than 2020.