By Sherief Ibrahim, General Manager, Business Applications, Microsoft Canada
The pandemic has triggered significant negative impacts to the global supply chain. Lockdowns and facility closures are only a few of the challenges that have disrupted supply chains over the last two years, resulting in economic losses and missed opportunities that stretch into the billions. This disruption has impeded delivery of essential goods and services and threatened business continuity across industries. And we’re not out of the clear yet.
I recently sat down with Donna Warton, our Corporate Vice President, Windows and Devices Supply Chain and Sustainability, to discuss how Microsoft was affected by the global supply chain disruption, key learnings that emerged and how we’re preparing for the unpredictable future. To mitigate the effects of the pandemic, Microsoft focused on leveraging technology across the business – from factories to the hybrid workplace – to scale, stay agile and transform.
“One of our first focus areas, roughly five years ago, was to digitize and connect our factories. This is more important now than ever, because of resiliency. You need to be able to move product around between factories easily and swiftly. That has been the focus for us and we’ve been able to leverage our own solutions like Microsoft Cloud and IoT, to support the agility that is required and reduce our costs,” says Donna Warton, Corporate Vice-President, Windows + Devices Supply Chain & Sustainability.
Leveraging data from technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence has been a valuable tool in Microsoft’s supply chain journey, especially during periods of disruption. Donna shares that our second focus was leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence and using the data we had available to us. First and foremost, we needed to have a good data strategy and ensure that the quality of our data was good. This is table stakes.
On the logistics side, Microsoft has been working with partners to leverage predictive algorithms to understand when orders are going to be late. Throughout the pandemic, our on-time delivery performance has stayed in the mid-90s even amidst the global chip shortage. This speaks volumes to how important it is to lean into those capabilities.
Another key aspect to building a resilient supply chain is sustainability. At Microsoft, our approach to sustainability is business imperative. For example, we’ve introduced an internal carbon fee across all our businesses that is associated with the carbon footprint that each product creates. We use these insights to help drive down our carbon fees but also to create a hard financial ROI and make informed decisions about the materials we use.
If your organization hasn’t already started digitally transforming its supply chain, now is the time to do so. Microsoft offers a suite of solutions that allow organizations to implement a robust, nimble, and transparent system that can withstand radical changes in supply and demand. Our newest solution, Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Insights enables organizations to create a digital representation of their physical supply chain and enhance the end-to-end visibility of their entire value chain. With it, they can make better supply chain decisions with proactive risk mitigation via prescriptive insights, powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Insights is currently available in public preview and will become generally available later this summer.
The innovations that supply chain leaders implement within their organizations today, can better position them to take on challenges and opportunities going forward.
“Progress won’t be linear. Celebrate your wins and stay on the journey. You’ll get there,” says Warton.
To learn more about how your organization can create a resilient supply chain, register for our March 30th event: Withstanding Global Supply Chain Disruption – Predict, Mitigate, Thrive.