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Will there be an end to the supply chain disaster?

By Eli Sabatier
As the bright light at the end of a very long COVID tunnel begins to emerge, people in many parts of the world are beginning to breathe a sigh of relief—hoping that most aspects of normality are just around the corner, and we can all collectively put a rough 20+ months behind us.

The unfortunate part: the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be with us for at least another 24 months. Not in the sense of public health measures. Rather, we will all suffer supply chain issues in almost every aspect of our lives.

If a global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the global supply chain—the thing that feeds the entirety of the world’s economies—is, in fact, a fragile entity. More so, the pandemic has affected almost every facet of it.

What many are struggling with right now can be traced right back to material scarcity. For instance, chip shortages are directly affecting industries such as ours. The ability to access IT-related equipment is at an all-time low—all because the parts simply don’t exist.

But there is far more in the “chain” than many may realize. There has also been a massive spike in freight costs. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, the reality is that online shopping increased more than 40% during the pandemic. This means that more goods from around the world are being shipped—leading to an increase in costs.

Then of course there is demand forecasting. From retailers to businesses, to manufacturing and more—everyone’s reality changed in March 2020. Plagued with uncertainty due to rolling lockdowns, ever-increasing and ever-present public health measures and more—no one could predict what they actually needed, let alone order it in advance. This has caused massive congestion with orders now pouring in—and no way to keep up with demand.

For example, with all the aforementioned issues, the reality is that ports around the world simply cannot handle the demand. This also affects land shipping—from trucks to trains and more, the demand for delivery can be traced back to the very first point in this article.

And last, but definitely not least, there is the change in consumer attitudes and overall behaviors. During the pandemic, consumers at all levels demanded faster shipping and delivery. This in turn placed greater emphasis on the consumer experience—to put it bluntly, people want what they want, and they want it now. And the level of urgency became almost impossible to manage.

It’s this type of demand that also placed a new emphasis on automation. From ordering to fulfillment, to shipping and tracking, through to delivery—the entirety of the customer experience required new technology. And though that sound good in theory, if we revisit the entirety of this article, the idea of getting the tech needed for automation was again stalled.

In fact, I can attest first-hand to the demand for technology. Our customers represent a broad spectrum of technology and manufacturing companies, educational organizations, government, and more. Throughout the pandemic, the demands for technology grew exponentially with companies struggling to keep up with consumer demand on all fronts.

So what’s the solution to all of this? Unfortunately, for the most part it’s “hurry up and wait” until all things come back to more manageable levels. That said, we are helping our customers with forecasting, cloud migrations and more—and we have been lucky enough to have supplies and infrastructure to weather the storm. If you need help, reach out—I can’t promise the world, but I can at least promise the tech that you may need.