Slimane Allab at LLamasoft explores how businesses can manage the inevitable uncertainty of Brexit.
One way or another, the UK’s Brexit transition period will be over on the 31st December. In a year defined by disruption, some may say this seems a fitting way to close the curtain on 2020.
However, for businesses, on top of the disruptions they continue to face from COVID-19, it will mean contending with a huge amount of uncertainty during the in-between months. Will the UK leave with a deal or without? If the UK does strike a deal, what will be the parameters of that deal? Ultimately, nobody knows, and the situation will continue to change as we move towards that end of year deadline.
While businesses must accept this uncertainty, they cannot simply stand still and wait for it to happen. Instead, they must prepare for every and any eventuality within their supply chain. The consequences of being unprepared could be both micro and macroeconomically catastrophic, in addition to being devastating on a humanitarian level too, especially if it leads to shortages in food and medical supplies. Businesses can leverage technology such as the digital twin to prepare for the unpredictable.
Since the 31st January 2020, when Brexit officially happened, the UK has been in a transition period as it negotiates with the EU to strike a parting trade deal. Already, there have been a number of twists and turns in this story and it seems inevitable that there will be more along the way.
While businesses have been given a clear timeline on when the UK will leave the European Union, the ongoing and volatile nature of the negotiations are causing a huge amount of uncertainty. Whether the UK leaves with or without a trade deal will have a huge impact on the supply chains of businesses and how they trade. The changes could demand a total upheaval of their business model and at very short notice.
There are a number of worst-case scenarios which have been touted in response to Brexit. There have been suggestions that a no-deal Brexit could result in shortages in food and medicine, especially if it clashes with a second wave of COVID-19 infections. This would be catastrophic for both businesses and the UK as a nation.
This begs the question for businesses, though: how can they prepare for so many possibilities? The answer lies in ensuring that, within their supply chains, they have a backup option for every eventuality. Fortunately for businesses, digital twin technology can help them to achieve exactly this.
Digital twins: a guiding light
Using digital twin technology, businesses can create a digital copy of their supply chain. By combining the technology with AI and advanced analytics, companies can then simulate the impacts of disruption on their supply chain. This can be anything from a spike in COVID-19 cases, resulting in lock-downs, to the possibilities of a no deal Brexit and future trade deals.
By creating a virtual representation of their end to end value network, businesses can then identify potential bottlenecks in supply chains which could be exposed by these various disruptions. The technology will then allow them to quickly model changes to their supply chain structure and policies to find the best possible solution. This will help businesses to react confidently in real-time, while taking into account both cost and service implications.
In the instance of Brexit, this will give businesses the best chance of being prepared once the clock hits midnight on the 1st January 2021. It will enable them to have multiple contingency plans ready for deployment, which have already been pre-tested and proven effective.
This means that, as soon as the conditions of Brexit are finalised, companies can adapt their supply chain to ensure business continuity and gain a competitive advantage over those who are unprepared.
The benefits of the technology have already been made plain to see in 2020. Research has shown that, among retailers that are classified as overachieving, 56% are using technology to model contingency plans for severe supply chain interruptions.
Meanwhile, just 31% of retailers either performing to industry average or underperforming are doing the same. Moving forward, it will be the 56% who continue to succeed, especially as disruptions become more regular and increasingly unpredictable.
Businesses that implement AI, machine learning and digital twin technology into their supply chain will have a competitive advantage over those that don’t. This is true in both the context of Brexit and in a wider context, with the never normal world businesses find themselves in.
Ultimately, businesses need this technology to succeed moving forward. While the end of the Brexit transition period remains the 31st December, the time for preparation was yesterday.
Slimane Allab is Senior Vice President and General Manager, EMEA, LLamasoft
Main image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com