In brief

In brief

  • Unexpected upheavals have rocked businesses, and their global supply chains in particular, more than once in the last decade.
  • But it took the prolonged disruptions of COVID-19 to make it clear to business leaders that they need to rethink their supply chain strategies.
  • Companies that apply fresh thinking in the next decade will be primed for stability and success in a world where external shocks are a fact of life.

How do you plan for continuous disruption?

Global supply chains that were traditionally finetuned for speed and efficiency have brought many benefits to companies, consumers, and societies: lower prices, economies of scale, and more. But they also came with risks.

From the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan to the 2019 bush fires in Australia, businesses and their supply chains were exposed to several setbacks over the last decade. Yet none of these compare with the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down entire economies and repeatedly disrupted the movement of goods and people within countries and across borders.

Many companies are now recognizing that their pre-pandemic supply chain models need to be reconfigured to enhance their preparedness for sudden shocks. In the coming years, more and more disruptions—whether environmental (extreme weather), economic (sudden demand shocks), technological (internet and network disruptions), or geopolitical (trade restrictions)—are expected to impact supply chains again and again.

Businesses need to find ways to turn uncertainty brought by disruption into a competitive advantage.

Three supply chain imperatives for the next decade

Our research reveals three imperatives that business leaders need to consider as they redefine their supply chain strategies for the next decade, especially in Asia and Latin America. Companies can stay prepared to seize opportunities from inevitable disruptions in the future if they:

Understand global and local are not in opposition

Companies need to be more creative in their supply chain de-risking strategies. By considering both global and local concerns, the benefits of global engagement and local resilience can be mutually reinforcing.

Increase the reliability of digital commerce

Companies must bolster digital reliability with the physical strength of supporting infrastructure. Underpinning every successful e-commerce model is a robust and scalable fulfilment infrastructure, with fine-tuned operations that run across both digital and physical worlds.

Design automation for the long term

Mature economies in Asia in particular face a looming challenge—labor scarcity. Automation is a key part of the solution. But companies should avoid the temptation of a short-term fix and instead, design automation solutions to last.

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Fresh thinking needed

Disruption may now be a permanent feature of the global economy. But that doesn’t have to undermine the safety, security, or effectiveness of supply chains. With fresh thinking, it’s possible to build supply chains that are fast, efficient, and resilient—and better prepared for a world in which external shocks are a fact of life.

Vivek Luthra

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Supply Chain & Operations and Industry X, Growth Markets

Dr. Vedrana Savic

Managing Director – Thought Leadership, Accenture Research

Jenni Lai

Senior Principal – Thought Leadership, Accenture Research


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