Application Development and Maintenance

Digital data sharing is the key to a resilient supply chain

Digital data sharing is the key to a resilient supply chain. It can streamline information across carriers, improve customer experience, and protect the supply chain industry from future disruption.

As the COVID-19 crisis peaked, countries around the world closed their borders and supply chain constraints reached unprecedented levels. In fact, 94% of Fortune 1000 companies saw supply chain disruptions from COVID-19.1 This crisis put the industry to the test, and the response revealed how few companies were able to adapt, be resilient, or transparent.

The consumer supply chain provided a vital lifeline to support the response, keeping essential medical supplies, food, and other necessities flowing where they were needed most. This area of the industry made great strides in digitizing its internal operations.

The weakest link in the supply chain: the absence of shared data

However, the pandemic also exposed the weakness in our supply chains—specifically, a chronic failure by key players to collaborate and share data insights across multiple channels. This lack of visibility emerged as an enormous challenge, leading to network congestion, significant delays, and increased customer costs.

To some extent, supply chain disruptions were considered the norm, even before the pandemic. Averaging across industries, companies now expect supply chain disruptions lasting a month or longer to occur every 3.7 years, and the most severe events take a major financial toll2. Troubling as this may be, it presents an opportunity to be predictive instead of reactive by sharing data between supply chain networks to improve visibility across the channel ecosystems.

Information sharing is vital to minimize disruptions

There is a clear need for a digital ecosystem that can provide real-time insights across disparate supply chain networks. This would give supply chain businesses the ability to discover new trends, uncover opportunities, predict upcoming demand, reduce costs, and significantly increase customer experience—all leading to a more prepared, resilient response to any future disruptions. Moving forward successfully will depend on innovation, collaboration, and transparency among the major players in the industry.

This momentum has already started. One recent example is Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW), an information-sharing initiative from the Biden-Harris administration. This initiative will pilot key freight information exchange between parts of the goods movement supply chain.3

FLOW will attempt to untangle the complex data-sharing knot by working with an initial eighteen key players, including the Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, Georgia Ports Authority, Gemini Shippers Association, DCLI, FlexiVan, Prologis, CMA CGM, MSC, C.H. Robinson, Target, True Value, Land ‘O Lakes, FedEx, and UPS.

Improving logistics with a shift to digital

With our logistics partner, CAI is challenging legacy ways of working to accelerate the adoption of agile. We believe value chain transformation is necessary to develop common data, and it can be done through the convergence of several disrupting technologies, like Big Data Analytics, automation, unrivaled connectivity via machine-to-machine and human-to-machine interaction, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality.

The key to a more resilient business model for the supply chain industry is undeniably in digital transformation. Digital data sharing can streamline information across carriers, improve customer experience, and remove obstacles that have prevented smaller companies from remaining competitive with industry giants. This shift to digital tools and ways of working will also help protect the supply chain industry from future disruption.

About the author

Rohit Rathee is a Client Executive at CAI. He is also a logistics thought leader in CAI’s Commercial Division, staying ahead of digital transformation trends and service delivery technology for logistics, supply chain, and distribution business issues.


  1. Sherman, Erik. “94% Of the Fortune 1000 Are Seeing Coronavirus Supply Chain Disruptions.” Fortune. Fortune, February 26, 2020.
  2. Lund, Susan, James Manyika, Jonathan Woetzel, Edward Barriball, Mekala Krishnan, Knut Alicke, Michael Birshan, et al. “Risk, Resilience, and Rebalancing in Global Value Chains.” McKinsey & Company. McKinsey & Company, November 18, 2021.
  3. “Fact Sheet: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Initiative to Improve Supply Chain Data Flow.” The White House. The United States Government, March 16, 2022.

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