COVID-19: Impact on Global Supply Chains

Manish Prasad, Strategy, Corporate Development and Operations, Bristlecone

COVID-19 has triggered widespread disruption on a scale that hasn’t been seen by most people alive today. No one saw it coming, and those who saw leading indicators by December 30, 2019 couldn’t have predicted a pandemic of this magnitude. This is a classic Black Swan. COVID-19 has caused catastrophic damage to the global economy. It has quickly disrupted all industries. And it is impacting every consumer, company, community and country on the planet. Supply chains have been hit hard in a variety of ways, with the most impacted being exposed at the nerve centers, especially in China.


According to an Institute for Supply Management survey, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted 75% of U.S. supply chains, and many industries are now experiencing secondary supply chain effects.


The need to build digitally resilient supply chains is becoming evident, but unfortunately, there is no magic pill or plug-and-play solution. In fact, nobody has the perfect response to deal with this disruption – and business leaders recognize this with utmost humility.


We believe the first thing businesses must do, beyond fostering the health and well-being of their employees, is organize available resources and capital to create a rapid response plan. Respond Now is phase one, a phase in which cash is like oxygen.




While some companies are fighting for their survival, others have built a war-chest and are in an enviable position to start considering the next big bet to gain competitive edge. Their approach may be twofold: responding to the current situation, while assessing initiatives to build resilience for future disruptions. Build Resilience is phase two.



A little further down the road, companies should actively seek new consumer behavior patterns to drive emerging and innovative business models – with a focus on reinforcing digital strategies and creating a stronger online presence. Reinvent Business is phase three, and some companies may be in a position to begin this phase earlier than most.


This is not the first coronavirus, and it likely won’t be the last. The question is – how do we tackle today’s challenges, while ensuring we emerge stronger from this pandemic?