In today's dynamic business environment, supply chain resilience has become a critical factor for organizations to swiftly recover from disruptions and resume normal operations. Derived from psychology, the concept of resilience was initially introduced to the realm of operations over three decades ago. However, with the escalating frequency of global crises, including pandemics, natural disasters, geopolitical tensions, and wars, traditional approaches no longer suffice. Researchers and managers, seeking a way forward in this challenging landscape, must explore innovative strategies to swiftly adapt to the "new normals."
Over the years, businesses have undergone lean transformations aimed at reducing waste and enhancing efficiency. While commendable, relying solely on these practices may fall short in establishing sustainable supply chain resilience. In the face of unprecedented uncertainties, simply bolstering safety stocks and increasing supplier networks prove to be inadequate measures. To effectively fortify their supply chains, researchers and managers need to embrace new avenues, transcending traditional methods, in their pursuit of resilience.
In the realm of supply chain management, the concept of supply chain resilience shares similarities with supply chain risk management, but places distinct emphasis on different aspects. While supply chain risk management entails the systematic identification, management, and continuous monitoring of risks, along with the development of counter-measures, supply chain resilience goes beyond to address the crucial need for recovery from unforeseen shocks.
The unprecedented events of the Covid-19 pandemic serve as a stark reminder of the importance of resilience. In 2020, the closure of borders within the European Union, a scenario deemed inconceivable, became a reality. Yet, despite the unexpected disruptions, some firms demonstrated remarkable adaptability and success. The ability to effectively respond to unforeseen glitches is at the core of resilience, prompting the vital question: How can supply chains enhance their resilience (without sacrificing their operational efficiency and leanness)?
Amidst the quest for supply chain resilience, digital technologies emerge as a compelling solution. By harnessing the power of additive manufacturing, organizations gain the flexibility to defer critical differentiation decisions while also bridging gaps in disrupted supply chains. Blockchain technology offers a robust information foundation, enhancing transparency and visibility throughout the supply chain. Meanwhile, the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital twins enable real-time decision-making with unprecedented precision and depth. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that these technologies can introduce new dependencies, and in the worst-case scenario, impede resilience.
Within our research group, we delve into the profound influence of digital technologies on supply chain resilience. Employing a combination of analytical approaches and empirical methods, including behavioral experiments, our aim is to uncover innovative solutions, guide their implementation, and rigorously assess their effectiveness. Through our endeavors, we strive to establish new benchmarks for digital-technology-enabled supply chain resilience, paving the way for transformative advancements in the field.