The Supply Chain Matters blog features our annual listing of our most read blog commentaries that were created and published during the year 2020.
Normally, this series features our top ten blogs for the prior year. However, as many readers are well attuned to, the year 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges as well as opportunities for industry supply chain management teams. For these reasons, we elected to expand our profile to the top 25 blogs of 2020. We will do so within a two-part series, staring with descending order and working our way to the topmost read blog during last year’s supply chain management event cycle.
As readers review these listings, focus on the topics as well as the timing during the year. Notice the patterns that repeat not only in 2020, but as we approach the end of the first quarter of 2021. Some of these topics are ongoing and some have since refined.
Let’s therefore begin exploring the most read Supply Chain Matters content last year derived from our web site analytics.
Number 25 (This was a tie among two blogs with the exact same reader uptake)
Supply Chain Matters highlighted a published report by The Wall Street Journal that the commercial aircraft manufacturer was proactively reaching out to its network of 600 prime suppliers to both prepare for eventual restarting of 737 MAX monthly production, and according to the report, “dissuade some from seeking more business from Airbus SE.” At the time, most suppliers had weathered the overall production cutbacks and outright suspension in January 2020. Speculation was that when production was re-started, some industry watchers believed it would take an additional three years to again reach the former rate of 57 aircraft per month level.
As events turned out as the year evolved, the pandemic devastated air travel and commercial aircraft demand and delivery actions. It has only been the beginning of 2021 that Boeing has begun to support the return to service and select customer deliveries of the 737 MAX.
We called reader attention to home improvement retailer Home Depot who reported record quarterly sales growth and operational performance in the quarter ending in September 2020. Comparable sales volumes grew 23.4 percent globally, with comparable sales in the U.S. increasing a healthy 25 percent. Net earnings for the second quarter were reported as $4.3 billion, compared with net earnings of $3.5 billion in the year-earlier quarter. The one report aspect we wanted our readers to especially focus on was the observation that businesses had to quickly abandon pre-pandemic business models and instincts. That included supply chain and sales and operations planning teams. A cited quote from this retailer’s CEO Craig Menear stated: “All of the historical benchmarks that we’ve used to think about the business and what the growth in the business would be, like GDP and housing…none of that has a correlation anymore” Instead, “were watching consumer demand very, very, carefully. This is our number one thing.”
This blog focused on Maryland based spice and condiments producer McCormick & Co. and the company’s reported May ending second-quarter financial performance. The company exceeded market expectations in sales and profitability areas in the midst of a market shift in channel product demand. With many consumers confined to home because of the virus, cooking at home became a new skill to be renewed. This was reflected in a reported sales increase of 26 percent in the company’s consumer segment. Correspondingly, with the many country and regional lockdowns caused by the virus spread, sales to restaurants and food service companies, long a core channel for McCormick, had declined by 18 percent. During the quarterly investor briefing, Chairman and CEO Lawrence Kurzius specifically praised the performance of the company’s supply chain management teams as a key contributor to a successful pivot.
This later turned out to be a common theme for consumer-focused product companies during 2020.
We featured a conversation with Michael Roesch, Senior Vice President for Customer Engagement at procurement technology provider JAGGAER. Our conversation focused on procurement’s role in near, mid, and longer-term windows of direct procurement strategies, with a particular emphasis on why procurement teams must be able to influence more timely decision-making needs in end-to-end supply chain management.
In this sixth initial updates of our monitoring of the COVID-19 outbreak in late February, the World Health Organization had reported over 85,000 virus cases globally, the most being concentrated in mainland China. Virus spread at the time was noted as 49 other countries including South Korea, Italy and Iran. A number of global companies such as Procter & Gamble, Hasbro and others had issued their initial warnings. Our perspective at the time was plan for the worst and hope for the best.
This blog contemplated Apple’s planned 2020 iPhone new product introductions that included four new models and speculated as to how the consumer electronics giant would leverage its aggressiveness and clout to overcome likely COVID-19 related challenges and constraints across China. As it turned out, Apple was rather successful in this effort, learning that aggressiveness and clout did pay dividends in record iPhone sales in the 2020 holiday fulfillment period.
This blog called reader attention to Supply Chain Matters Podcast Episode Two which featured Jon Chorley, Group Vice President of Product Strategy for Oracle’s supply chain management applications. Our podcast discussed ways to leverage technology in responding to COVID-19 challenges and how industry supply chains can eventually be prepared in whatever turns out to be the new normal.
This Supply Chain Matters blog provided its second update on the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus outbreak on global and regional supply chains and offered our blog content library resources on the notions of the tenets of managing emergency supply chains a guest contribution series authored by former U.S. Army officer Matt Shatzkin and some of his teachings at the U.S. Army War College.
This blog called attention to an announcement from B2B supply chain business network platform provider E2open in announcing a Visibility for All™ initiative, providing an ability to remove the existing market monetary barriers for real-time global in-transit shipment visibility across all transit modes. The provider characterized the move as not only removing a significant barrier by making real-time visibility of in-transit shipment data, but also helping companies to take an important step towards added supply chain digital transformation. The argument put forth was that customers actually own this data.
This was Part One of a multi-part supply chain management technology market education series, in collaboration with Autoscheduler.ai, The series focused on the emerging trend related to traditional Warehouse Management System (WMS) applications, and on the need for an overlay Cloud-based WMS Accelerator, that we described as a data convergence technology strategy approach.
This was our fifth update on the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak during the early phases on the pandemic. We pointed to indications that virus containment was not occurring, and the ripple impacts were becoming more visible among multi-industry customer demand and supply networks. We offered suggestions to supply chain management teams in ongoing supply chain risk assessment and mitigation.
Supply Chain Matters alerted readers to breaking supply chain technology news: namely that Panasonic Corporation taking an equity stake in supply chain technology provider Blue Yonder, formally known as JDA Software. Included was an initial technology market perspective relative to the announcement.
As a postscript, in early March of 2021, we highlighted to readers a published report by Nikkei Asia indicating that Panasonic was set to acquire Blue Yonder for a reported sum of upwards of $6.5 billion. There has not been a further announcement at the time we publish this blog.
In Part Two of this series, we will count down from Number 14 to our most read blog during 2020.
In the meantime, explore our 2021 blog content and tune into our ongoing notification on Linked-In as well as Twitter. Our Supply Chain Matters Podcast series is further providing added conversation from other supply chain management, business process, and technology experts and thought leaders regarding trends to anticipate this year.
Bob Ferrari, Founder and Executive Editor
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