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How COVID-19 will accelerate the transformation of supply chains?

Global supply chains will face a transformation towards a circular economy and shared value creation

Living through crises

When we work together with corporate clients, helping them meet their ambitions in terms of strategy, supply chains or operations, we look for opportunities to sustainably improve performance and sometimes simulate crises to test their resilience. When a crisis hits, it can easily cost tens of millions of euros. But what happens when the crisis is over? We wake up and go back to our day-to-day lives, doing precisely what we did before the crisis arrived. A month later, we look at our plans and strategies to prepare for worst-case scenarios and suddenly find them too encumbering, too extreme and certainly too expensive and we file them away in our “let’s not think about that” folder.

Why do we do this? Because we continue to believe in and live and work in the models that we’ve shaped over time. But COVID-19 is changing all that. Today, many of us are waking up to the realisation that this virus has the potential to do the unthinkable: to take us back to step one of Maslow’s stairs. And that’s not even the worst-case scenario. But at the same time, COVID-19 presents an opportunity. It is not the end of globalisation but maybe the trigger to reassess the models used globalisation was built on.

Reimagining the model

Covid-19 will accelerate the evolution towards other models of how we work, produce, serve and consume in a world that’ll only become more constrained. Starting this process now will not only help people, companies, economies, countries and markets to become more resilient, but also generate more sustainable value for everyone to share.

Going forward, companies should consider structurally rethinking their business models and supply chains by implementing circularity principles and digital solutions. Closing the loops to secure transparent, continued access to sufficient qualitative resources will be key. They should also look at transforming their operations and supply chains to maximise the utilisation of resources and the lifetime of the goods or services they deliver to guarantee, satisfy and outperform customers’ expectations.

Covid-19 will accelerate the evolution towards other models of how we work, produce, serve and consume in a world that’ll only become more constrained.

For primary essential goods, such as food and medical equipment, and services, such as utilities, we’ll need to shorten the chain and manufacture closer by. The same goes for other strategic support services, resources and products.

To make that happen, governments will have to speed up the transformation of their tax systems, to reduce the cost of labour for example. They have an obligation and responsibility to create an environment in which citizens and companies can manufacture and prosper.

Creating shared value for the world

Firms and industries need to start working together, collaborate across boundaries to integrate and strengthen the overall supply chains across the world. This will not only make every chain more resilient, but also generate more shared value for all. Everyone has a role to play and responsibilities to assume.

Shutting your doors and making your country great again within those models isn’t the answer. Rethinking and redesigning those models and fashioning them into something that can make the world great is the way forward.

Working in new ways is already helping us create new insights.

Playing our role

Because we believe we should contribute to the world with what we’re best at - solving important problems from strategy through execution - at PwC, we’re speeding up the integration of our unique knowledge and experience in the field of transforming supply chains and markets into circular markets and digital solutions.

Today’s the right time to start this process. Working in new ways is already helping us create new insights.


Author of the article: Christoph Vanderstricht

Contact us

Jochen Vincke

Jochen Vincke

Partner, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 477 61 12 22

Christoph Vanderstricht

Christoph Vanderstricht

RBR Expert Circular Economy & Shared Value Creation, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 477 61 92 52

Connect with PwC Belgium