Background and Introduction

On an annual basis, and since our inception in 2008, The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and our associated Supply Chain Matters blog publish a series of supply chain management focused annual predictions.

Such predictions are provided to clients, technology providers and blog readers in the spirit of advising senior and line-of-business executives, multi-industry cross-functional supply chain management and supporting information technology teams a sensing of what to expect in the coming year, Our goal is to depict how likely global, regional, economic, business and industry trends will impact and likely influence required supply chain management actions in the coming year.

The context of these predictions include a broad cross-functional umbrella of what is today considered supply chain management, and includes areas of leadership and strategy, product management, strategic sourcing and procurement, supply chain planning and customer fulfillment, manufacturing, logistics, transportation and customer service management.

There is little question that this year has been unprecedented for industry and global supply chain challenges. Thus, we have elected to change our format for annual predictions.

2021 Predictions

Our overall theme for what to anticipate in 2021 is a Year of Renewal.

In this initial two-part Supply Chain Matters focused overview, we share with readers an overall summary outline of our forthcoming annual predictions report which our research arm will publish in early January 2021.

In Part Two of this blog series, we will outline our usual compendium of quantitative global and regional economic and supply network networks related to the coming year.

In addition, readers can anticipate various added guest and other blogs adding additional perspectives on the coming year, and as previously noted, subsequent episodes of the Supply Chain Matters Podcast series will feature noted guests also sharing their views on what to expect in the “next normal.


The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group’s Summation of 2021 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains

Executive Summary

Historians will record the year 2020 as one where a global pandemic tested the resiliency, ingenuity and the resourcefulness of global populations when it counted most. The year presented a host of simultaneous disruptions few have experienced in recent history, or in personal or professional careers.

Multi-industry and global supply chains were faced with simultaneous and often parallel shocks and disruptions related to product demand, global wide supply, logistics and transportation networks. COVID-19 laid bare the cracks and fissures of supply chain business processes, capabilities and decision-making needs along with testing the abilities of work teams to either work remotely or perform essential work under challenging working conditions modified for added safety, social distancing and health monitoring.

Despite such challenges, supply chain management teams rallied to the challenge and became as MIT Professor Yossi Sheffi noted in his newly published book, The New (Ab) Normal: “It was the supply chain’s finest hour.”

In addition to needing to overcome the effects of a pandemic, 2020 was by many accounts the thrusting of supply chain and its associated capabilities to impact business outcomes into C-Suite, Boardroom and general media awareness.

For global business leaders, some would like to believe that 2020 was an extraordinary outlier that tested the limits of business and indeed many industry and specific corporate supply chains. Rather than an outlier, COVID-19 was the wake-up call for what is now commonly being referred to as the “next normal,”  a state of continuous business disruption. Some have termed the pandemic as the “Great Accelerator” for changes related either to global trade or more focused regionalization of product demand and supply networks.

Our collection of 2021 predictions reflect an upcoming year that requires continued business response and mitigation related to the pandemic and global economic uncertainties. We anticipate an increased emphasis for added efficiencies, cost reduction and control, while preserving abilities to pivot to ongoing external developments, market opportunities and business needs.

We predict that for multi-industry supply chain management teams, the upcoming year will feature a common theme of Renewal, manifested by required New Thinking, Definition and Directions for what is going to be required in “next normal” capabilities. The overall emphasis in these areas is clearly dependent on the availability and distribution of effective vaccines that can control or greatly reduce levels of infection. Once more, we anticipate that for some of our predictions, the horizon will span a multi-year horizon, beyond the coming year.

Our predictions address needs in the specific areas of:

  • Enhanced End-to-End Visibility and Continuous Supply Network Risk Mitigation.
  • Acceleration of Supply Chain Digital Transformational Initiatives
  • Augmented Resiliency in Global Supply Network Strategies and Practices.
  • Developing More Agile Omni channel Focused Customer Fulfillment Capabilities.
  • An Enhanced Focus on the Well Being and Care of People as Well As Fostering Needed Digital Process Skills.
  • Fostering Augmented Approaches and Technology Enabled Solutions in Needed Product Demand and Supply Network Operational Efficiencies.
  • Changed Approaches in Supply Chain Leadership.
  • Added Investment and M&A Among Sectors of the Supply Chain Technology Landscape
  • More Active Focus and Support on Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Aftermath of This Pandemic


Detailed 2021 Predictions

Below are our individual predictions for the coming year.


2021 Prediction One:  Enhanced End-to-End Visibility and Continuous Supply Network Risk Mitigation Becomes Essential.


2021 Prediction Two: Discernable Acceleration of Supply Chain Digital Transformation Initiatives But in the Context of Business-Driven Objectives.


2021 Prediction Three: Augmented Resiliency in Global Supply Network Strategies Becomes Far More Important to Assuring Business and Profitability Growth.


2021 Prediction Four: Omni-Channel Focused Processes and Customer Fulfillment Capabilities Now Essential to Business Growth.


2021 Prediction Five: Well Being and Care of People as well as Fostering Needed Digital Process Skills Take Center Stage.


2021 Prediction Six: The Fostering of Augmented Connected Manufacturing and Supply Chain Operational Efficiencies and Synchronization Among Product Demand and Supply Networks Remain an Important Priority.


2021 Prediction Seven: The New Normal Requires Changed Approaches for Supply Chain Leadership.


2021 Prediction Eight: Added Investment or M&A Activities Among Sectors of the Supply Chain Technology Landscape.


2021 Prediction Nine: Increasing Global-Wide Transportation Costs Foster Revised Customer Fulfillment Strategies.


2021 Prediction Ten: More Active Focus and Support of Business Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibilities in the Aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


We will further publish a separate report outlining our 2021 Industry Specific Predictions which outline unique challenges for certain specific industry product demand and supply networks.  We plan to include the following industries:

PPE, Healthcare and Pharmaceutical

High-Tech and Semiconductor


Commercial Aerospace


As we all approach the end of year traditional holidays, please take the time to enjoy the blessings of family and a truly hope-filled New Year.

Stay connected to Supply Chain Matters for added perspectives on what to anticipate and how best to be prepared for the year 2021.


Bob Ferrari

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