The global COVID-19 outbreak set many industries on their ears over the past year-plus and certainly, the logistics sector bore a particularly heavy brunt in terms of disruption to normal operations. However, many individual companies within the field did not sit idly by and just accept these conditions as unavoidable — instead, they pivoted to an increased reliance on digital processes to help shepherd them through the crisis.

Indeed, 97% of businesses in the supply chain recently told ToolsGroup that they suffered at least some kind of disruption because of the coronavirus. Of that number, almost half (42%) said this led them to put their plans for digitizing various processes into a higher gear. Of course, roughly 90% had already found themselves at some stage of that path.

More than half of the companies that categorized themselves as "reaping the benefits of digital transformation" said their efforts around COVID uncertainty were going "very well." Most often, companies reported they were digitizing to keep up with customer or partner expectations, just ahead of trying to increase automation that frees up staffers for other work. Nearly as many were simply trying to improve business performance. Other popular answers included prioritizing improved customer service, navigating around unexpected disruptions or increasing the resilience of their overall supply chain.

Is your supply chain business ready for the post-COVID world?Is your supply chain business ready for the post-COVID world?

Digging in on customer experience
The ability of supply chain businesses to meet customer demand was front and center in the past 12 months or so. To that end, it should come as little surprise that Supplyframe recently found more than 2 in 5 organizations in this sector have launched a new customer experience or digitization effort during that time. However, potential difficulties arising from the pandemic were nearly as likely to derail these efforts; 39% of respondents told the company this was the case.

"This research illustrates that the global electronics industry is still in an early stage of digital customer engagement maturity," said Steve Flagg, founder and CEO of Supplyframe. "The good news is that there is plenty of room for growth."

This comes as 56% of those polled categorized themselves as being "relatively immature" when it comes to gaining access to customer insights through business data, the report said.

What does it take?
As companies continue to get these efforts off the ground, decision-makers need to keep in mind that they should start by understanding what they need to look at in the first place, according to DC Velocity. It's all well and good to have full digital insight into your operations, but if you don't know what data is important, you might end up looking at or even prioritizing information that won't help you get ahead.

As such, you need an understanding of both what you want to achieve with digitization efforts and what data ties into those aspects of your business. Once you can separate and analyze that information more effectively, your operations — and your ability to meet partner expectations — will likely improve markedly.

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