It’s all about being prepared for the unexpected. The past 12 months have put a spotlight on the weaknesses of supply chains across the globe, prompting many organizations to rethink their strategies.

With COVID-19 putting additional strain on businesses, companies need to focus on preparing for unexpected events and building resilience into their supply chains. How can businesses build resilience? Investment. Investment can be used to mitigate risks and increase a company’s ability to rapidly recover from disruptions. This is absolutely critical to ensuring business survival.

Organizations should proactively invest in technology that will make their supply chain more intelligent and autonomous; two other crucial factors in building resilience. This can be a costly process, which is why companies should identify areas of vulnerability and focus on how they can minimize or completely eliminate those risks.

In addition to investing in technology, building resilience also requires a powerful plan along with the following characteristics: digitalization, visibility, and agility.

COVID-19 has put a strong emphasis on automation and the use of machine learning to mitigate disruptions to the supply chain. Digital transformation allows organizations to diminish the time it takes to make strategic decisions while increasing operational efficiency.

Many supply chain operators share the same goal of achieving end-to-end transparency. Digitizing processes allows businesses to have access to real-time information while simultaneously improving visibility and giving those involved in the supply chain full control.

The pandemic has paralyzed countless supply chains around the world due to their outdated systems. With social distancing and restrictions of movement in place, it can be difficult to maintain control over day-to-day operations. A digital approach that includes cloud-based applications can help businesses digitally track every single product and asset movement, helping them identify and respond to disruptions immediately.

In addition to digitalization and visibility, businesses should be agile and ready to tackle challenges and disruptions in order to build a more resilient supply chain. Agility means being flexible in decision making and being prepared to rapidly respond to unexpected changes.

Companies that have an agile supply chain are on the right track to outperforming their peers. Investing in the right technology can enable the agile adaptation of your businesses supply chain and its ability to face challenges head on.

In addition to identifying the right strategies and technologies, businesses must not overlook safeguarding themselves and their data from cyber threats. As the world becomes more connected, cybersecurity becomes even more crucial. For this reason, security should be part of every resilient supply chain strategy and companies should put additional effort into preventing the possibility of cyberthreats endangering their businesses.

Investing in resilience, digitalization, and agility is like training for a marathon. We know more disruptions are coming, and continuously developing a supply chain foundation that is robust, flexible, and capable of continued optimization is essential. By empowering your business with the tools it needs to be more agile and resilient, your team will be equipped with the knowledge and data to forecast and better prepare for future disruptions.

For businesses to thrive and be successful in a post-COVID economy, building resilience must start now.

Chase Flashman is Co-founder and CEO of ShipSights, a developer of industry-leading supply chain data analytics software & producer of enterprise-level consulting solutions.

This article originally appeared in the March/April, 2021 issue of PARCEL.