Black Swans: Anticipate Your Supply Chain Reactions

In a report released in late April , IBM’s Institute for Business Value weighs in on how organizations can reduce vulnerabilities through smarter supply chains. As supply chains start to react to the pandemic and deploy permanent changes in their processes, how can procurement officials brace for the change?

In this post we explore what changes supply chains are anticipated to make, and what those changes mean for public procurement officials.

1. Structural Risk and Flexibility

Jonathan Wright, Global Head of Cognitive Process Re-engineering at IBM said recently in an interview with Supply Chain Management Review[1], “As businesses transition to the ‘new normal,’ there should be a significant acceleration of digitization to allow supply chains to emerge in a stronger position. But that has to start now, with businesses using emerging technologies like AI, blockchain and IoT to quickly identify patterns in supply and demand to seek out opportunities to these dynamic business challenges.”

The challenges Mr. Wright is referring to include:

  • Geopolitical risks
  • Climate change risks
  • Cybersecurity risks
  • Natural disasters

For Public Procurement Officials:

  • Look to balance the line of lean process improvements with proper risk mitigation.

2. Global Visibility and Insights

Supply chain management professionals are going to be looking to narrow-down demand patterns on the local to the global level[2] . These patterns will assist them in preparing a more diverse and reactive supply chain for future disruptions. Likewise, procurement officials , and other global insights to make their exact needs known to vendors who can then communicate them across their respective supply chains.

For Public Procurement Officials:

  • Proper visibility and market insights means having excellent supplier relations. Accurately communicating the needs of your organization sets clear expectations for your relationship and leads to a vendor being able to prepare for the needs of your organization in times of supply chain disruption.

3. Rapid Reaction and Resolution

According to IBM, data analytics cross-industry collaboration will be key moving forward for supply chains. No one can predict the future, and smarter supply chains anchored in data will assist vendors proactively anticipating disruptions.

For Procurement Officials

  • Remember our post in March about supply chain fragility? As vendors diversify their own materials supply chain, make sure you are updating your supply chain maps. Engage in conversations with your vendors about their tier 2 and 3 suppliers. Keeping up to date supply chain maps will allow you to anticipate any future disruptions and understand the impact that may have on existing contracts.








[1] Burnson, P. (n.d.). New IBM Report Explains How to Leverage Technology to Counter Pandemic Disruption. Supply Chain Management Review . Retrieved from

[2] Burnson, P. (n.d.). New IBM Report Explains How to Leverage Technology to Counter Pandemic Disruption. Supply Chain Management Review . Retrieved from


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