Survive or Thrive? How Did Your Supply Chain Weather the COVID Pandemic?

Survive or Thrive? How Did Your Supply Chain Weather the COVID Pandemic?

What distinguishes companies that thrived from those that barely survived? The eighth MHI Annual Industry Report uncovers the answers.

Why were some companies able to quickstep around each supply chain obstacle, while others stumbled during the pandemic? How did certain organizations respond, recover, and excel amid the pandemic—emerging even stronger and more competitive than before?

To answer those questions, we focused our eighth MHI Annual Industry Report on assessing "Innovation Driven Resilience" (free at Researched by Deloitte Consulting LLP, the 2021 edition shares the findings of a survey of more than 1,000 manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain professionals. Operations large to small participated, with 49% reporting annual revenues of $50+ million, and 18% with annual sales of at least $1 billion. Executive positions are held by 81% of respondents.

Embracing the Digital Supply Chain

The findings showed the most resilient organizations were those that had already invested in digital supply chain technologies. Since 2013, MHI’s Annual Industry Report has studied the trends and adoption of the following technologies:

  • 3D printing
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Blockchain
  • Cloud computing and storage
  • Driverless vehicles and drones
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Inventory and network optimization
  • Predictive analytics
  • Robotics and automation
  • Sensors and automatic identification
  • Wearable and mobile technology

The most forward-thinking supply chain organizations harnessed the power of these digital technologies and innovations to respond, recover, and thrive during the 2020 turmoil.

Among supply chain thrivers, adoption of these 11 technologies is considered table stakes. Indeed, 49% of companies reported a significant expansion of their investment in these innovations. Of those, 45% plan to invest more than $1 million, and 12% will invest more than $10 million within the next 24 months.

As for which digital technologies are most in use today, 57% of respondents report cloud computing and storage deployments. That’s followed by inventory and network optimization tools (45%), sensors and automatic identification (42%), and robotics and automation (38%). Those four technologies likewise saw the biggest jumps in investment in 2020 and are expected to be adopted at high rates over the next 1 to 5 years.

By the way, we are surveying supply chain industry professionals for the 2022 MHI Annual Industry Report. We would love to include your input. Participate at

A Digital Mindset Is Critical

The 2021 MHI Annual Industry Report also found that supply chain organizations who embrace digital technologies first achieved a digital mindset. That is, overcome internal barriers to innovation across five key areas: leadership, innovation/technology, customer engagement, talent, and workplace environment.

To help organizations advance on their digital supply chain journey, MHI offers the Supply Chain Digital Consciousness Index (DCI). A free self-assessment tool (, the online evaluation enables a company to quickly determine its current digital mindset and gauge its progress on technology adoption.

Regardless of where a supply chain falls on the digital maturity spectrum, it’s important to not confuse "doing digital" with "being digital." That is, leveraging a few digital technologies to maintain the operational status quo isn’t transformative. Rather, to achieve an end-to-end digital transformation, these innovations must be leveraged to optimize business, operational, and customer service models in a profoundly different way than before.

Want to learn more about how these digital innovations will bolster your supply chain’s resilience and enable it to thrive? Attend MODEX 2022, the premier manufacturing and supply chain expo held March 28-31, 2022, at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center.

You’ll find free education sessions, daily keynotes (including one exploring the 2022 MHI Annual Industry Report findings), and early 900 exhibitors showcasing the latest technologies and solutions to help your supply chain become more agile, visible, efficient, and resilient. In short, to thrive.

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