A New Normal?

Paul Lavery, Director, Solutions Enablement – Supply Chain, Axway

We started this year with the lingering pressure and anxiety of “The Great Recession of 2008” still weighing heavily over our plans and budgets. The projections for recovery were bad, and the level of uncertainty regarding the potential economic climate was at an all time high. One commonly held belief was that we were in a period of a “new normal.” Not that there was a common definition of what the “new normal” was, but rather that what many of us believed to be normal had changed.

Fair enough, in terms of the consumer (savings, credit, housing, etc.), but from a supply chain operations perspective, much of the work remains the same. If anything, the pressure and intensity of the recession of ’08 put greater value on many industry initiatives and technologies that had already been in place or were in the process of being implemented. The event, if there was one, was the realization that not focusing on an implementation strategy to centralize and manage supply chain file exchange left many companies scrambling to identify the real impact of the downturn in business. This, in my opinion, cut across all three of the major supply chain industries (retail, manufacturing, and logistics).

I wrote several blog posts related to more specific examples, including:

Common among all of them is the (re)prioritization of the role of IT infrastructure and how it will now play in company planning related to supply chain. What was leading edge is now more of a norm. I do not mean to suggest that all companies are set and have established systems and processes in place. On the contrary, most still have a lot of work to do. I’m saying that we have moved from educating to planning. It’s not about how it works and what it is. It’s about when it will be in place or who will we select to get this done.

A new normal for SC professionals’ operating plans? Not so much.

A new norm for how value proof points obtain larger budgets for the IT infrastructures that support the end-to-end supply chain data flow? Yes.

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