Mediascape: Supply Chains in the Wake of COVID-19 (Part 2)

In the previous post, we explored how publications have increased their coverage of supply chains as concerns grew during COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders and their impact on the economy. In this second section, we look more closely at what terms show up most frequently, the sentiment of this coverage, and what companies who play a role in the supply chain can do to get their names in the game.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Media Coverage of Supply Chains
Any business that offers a tangible product must use some sort of supply chain to transport their goods from source to retailer or consumer. The scope and reach of the supply chain will vary based on the business and products involved, but some form of trade transportation must be involved.

We recognize the broadness of supply chain operations and coverage across vertical industries, and those industries and articles may not specifically relate to the technology used by supply chain companies. In order to zero in on the media’s technology-facing areas of focus regarding the COVID-19 impact on the supply chain, we analyzed the coverage to determine which technology terms were mentioned the most throughout the hundreds of articles on the topic.

Pitching Business in the Time of COVID-19

By a large margin (47%), the most mentioned supply chain technology was “artificial intelligence (AI)”. Even before the pandemic, the ability of AI to improve supply chain operations was a common topic of media coverage. As exhibited by the pie chart above, the interest in exploring AI’s ability to support supply chain operations – especially with a reduced/remote workforce – has only increased during the pandemic. This reflects the media’s and industry’s perspective that AI technology can act as a solution and cure for supply chain problems caused by COVID-19, rather than technologies such as IoT and cloud that act more like supporting technologies. Supporting technologies can act like a bandaid to assist supply chain companies as they manage remote operations during the pandemic, but they don’t offer the wide range of industry use cases and solutions that AI provides; such as to automate critical business functions and help supply chain organizations recover from the damage caused by COVID-19.

The second most mentioned technology term, “security,” also demonstrates the supply chain industry and media’s attention toward the security of supply chain operations. Supply chain security is especially important during the pandemic when it comes to the manufacturing and transportation of medical devices, and that security risk is compounded when the company’s workers cannot execute critical functions onsite and must work remotely due to social distancing requirements.

Do’s and Don’ts of Virtual Events

Are You a Supply Chain Technology SME? Offer Solutions to Those in Need
While some of the media coverage on COVID-19 and supply chain operations is negative in sentiment, the media’s broader coverage of supply chain issues and technology during the pandemic is more often neutral, or even positive.

When reporting on the pandemic’s effect on supply chains, the media appear to be focusing on how COVID-19 is currently inhibiting supply chain operations and how the technology and changes implemented by manufacturers, logistics companies, and retailers now will shape the future of the supply chain industry – including the way that businesses approach industry suppliers and partners, as well as consumer demand. Given the supply chain challenges these organizations face, it’s no surprise that they are desperately seeking technology solutions to help them weather and recover from the circumstances brought on by this pandemic. The media’s focus on AI technology as a solution for the supply chain problems caused by the pandemic indicates that they’re most interested in technologies that can provide immediate improvements to a struggling supply chain and even potentially offer alternative sources of revenue.

Many organizations that are surviving the pandemic are innovating their processes to pivot operations and provide additional, alternative value to their customers. Take New Balance, for example. The footwear manufacturer recently announced that it would pivot manufacturing operations to begin creating masks and PPE for healthcare workers during the pandemic. New Balance’s shift from manufacturing cloth and leather footwear to manufacturing cloth masks and PPE doesn’t require significant adjustments to already-existing processes. The company was able to identify a gap in the current market and recognized that they possessed the capabilities to fill that gap without completely redesigning their supply chain.

When reaching out to media, be sure to explain how and why your technology is critically necessary in the current climate, and how it can act as a business-wide solution to specific problems caused by the pandemic. 

We at 10Fold have our finger on the pulse of media trends and take special care to observe media coverage and priorities during market upsets and Black Swan events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Be sure to regularly visit our blog for the latest tips and updates on media strategies relating to the ongoing pandemic and future events.

Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask, and help your neighbors.