Leaner, Stronger, Smarter: 2021 Supply Chain Predictions For Asia

Leaner, Stronger, Smarter: 2021 Supply Chain Predictions For Asia
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Now more than ever, a leaner, stronger, and smarter supply chain is crucial for organisations and industries to adapt and excel in this new normal. By Graham Conlon, VP, Head of SAP Digital Supply Chain, SAP, Asia Pacific & Japan

2020 was probably one the most challenging years in recent history. Across the world, people saw and experienced first-hand the impact of a disrupted Supply Chain. 


Businesses were compelled to shine a spotlight on Supply Chains like never before. While disruptions are not new, the pandemic did compel businesses across industries to re-examine their Supply Chains and accelerate digital transformation. 

Many also discovered a newfound resilience powered by technology which will continue to play a key role as Asia rebounds in 2021. 

In my discussions with customers and partners, one of the key takeaways from 2020 was the need to have a robust supply chain processes and practices which can help your business pivot when uncertainties arise. 

With a digital supply chain, organisations can design smarter, embed intelligence, and improve visibility for their supply chains. Here are some other key developments to look out for in 2021:

Supply Chains remain front and centre for nations rolling out their vaccine dissemination plans. Supply Chains were a major boardroom discussion in 2020, and this will continue into 2021. The mass vaccine distribution exercise will be an opportunity for the world to witness what a next-generation supply chain is capable of. 

Fuelled by the increased focus on modern supply chain capabilities, public and private sectors will place greater strategic importance on this and be more future-ready. 

Vaccine distribution creates a unique challenge because of the scale (seven billion customers) and the unusual parties involved such as government agencies at the top and varied players at the point of vaccination. 

Having a robust supply chain can aid with access, and also ensure traceability to avoid counterfeit vaccines.

Supply Chains become more resilient and agile. In the coming year, we will continue to see a greater shift to more resilient digital supply chain models as businesses focus on expanding or transforming capabilities to increase flexibility, visibility and control. 

This is to enable greater responsiveness to continuous disruption, demand changes and uncertainty.

Supply Chains will lead the way on sustainability. Customers are a major influence (along with regulatory and environmental) for the push towards smart sustainability to help minimise environmental impact and maximise natural resources. 

If you look at almost any corporate website, you will find the company’s values, purpose, or mission. And invariably, you will find that sustainability is at the top of most companies’ lists. 

Whether it is corporate social responsibility, a commitment to be carbon neutral or negative, or striving to be a player in the circular economy, sustainability is top of mind.

Industry 4.0 enabling technologies will continue to drive digitisation. As we look to ramp up our production and distribution volumes and still comply with social distancing guidelines, we will see more robotics and automation to augment the workforce. 

We will also see tools to make employees more productive and informed. As pointed out earlier, resilience and risk mitigation require visibility, which in turn, require reliable, and real-time data. 

This will bring the cloud, IoT and blockchain to the forefront. We have seen examples of companies being resilient and moving on from this disruption, which is testament to the importance of adopting Industry 4.0 solutions and digital transformation. 

One of the ways manufacturers can ensure viability and relevancy is to embrace a predictive and intelligent digital supply chain model. 

With a digital supply chain, businesses will be able to obtain an end-to-end digital view of their entire supply chain from the status of manufacturing partners to last mile delivery. 

Such complete visibility allows businesses to plan ahead and ensure supply chains remain intact at all times. 

In addition, the intelligent capabilities of a digital supply chain assist businesses in predicting surges and offer alternatives when disruption occurs. Supply chains, like any other chain, are only as strong as the weakest link.


A Bright Future For Supply Chain In Asia

Now more than ever, a leaner, stronger, and smarter supply chain is crucial for organisations and industries to adapt and excel in this new normal. 

Disruptions are the new normal and businesses must always be on ready to ensure continuity and viability. There is a need to start on that digital journey now, to innovate and transform towards an increasingly digital future. 

Organisations need mechanisms to put visibility into their supply chains in order to cope with future disruption and be ready to rebound during the economic recovery.


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Asia-Pacific’s 5G Digital Factory Revenue Primed For US$60 Billion Post-COVID-19 Recovery In 2030

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Hitachi And Microsoft Form Strategic Alliance To Advance Digital Transformation Across Southeast Asia








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