Though we tend to focus in on how much COVID has changed our world, the fact of the matter is, times were already changing. And thank goodness they were because as strenuous as the last year has been on the supply chain, it could have been far worse had the seeds of Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing not already been sewn. COVID simply accelerated the inevitable and created a soft landing, relatively speaking, when we were given no other choice but to pivot.
Now as we begin to turn the corner and think about where the supply chain is headed next, it’s not much of a departure from what we’d already been preparing for. Instead, one of the driving purposes of it all — the worst-case scenario that we were weary of but perhaps didn’t anticipate at such scale — is clearer than ever, tangible, and acutely menacing. We know the bleak consequences companies faced that weren’t adequately prepared. And we appreciate better than ever the importance of efficiency, sustainability, and the ability to adapt to wild fluctuations in consumer demand. We also know how something like near-shoring could have a profound effect during the next major global disruption. Smart factories were already expected to add as much as $2.2 trillion to the global economy through 2023 in gains in productivity, quality, market share, and customer service. Even in 2019, 60 percent of organizations were already struggling to scale.
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