Researchers use tweets to Analyse supply chain issues


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"The global supply chain has been significantly impacted by COVID-19," according to Michael Wilson, vice president of marketing and packaging at AFFLINK, the sales and marketing organisation for distributors in the US.

"This applies to just about everything we purchase, from grocery items to paper products and cleaning supplies."

For insight into what is happening, three assistant professors, one from Texas A&M University and the other two from leading business universities in India, studied tweets regarding supply chain issues. Their goal was to identify the challenges organisations are experiencing, getting products from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’. Nearly 42,000 tweets from NASDAQ 100 firms, 35,000 tweets from individual twitter users, and 7,359 tweets from supply chain professionals were collected.

Analysing the tweets, here are some of the insights the researchers uncovered: 

Demand uncertainty. 
Since the pandemic arrived, there have been spikes in demand for certain products and significant declines for others. "A sudden change in demand creates enormous challenges for [manufacturers and distributors],” wrote the researchers. “Many companies are forced to match demand-supply equations daily."

Technology challenges
"Technology has emerged as an important factor that determines success or failure during COVID-19." However, many supply chain firms are not "technology-ready" to handle the many issues they are now facing. 

Finding ways to become more resilient is now viewed as crucial to business survival. Interestingly, many organisations are building resiliency by collaborating with competitors. "We're learning during the #COVID19 crisis [that] collaboration between… competitors allows everyone to provide their greatest value," tweeted one supply chain professional.

Employee safety. 
Many people tweeted about health and safety issues. "My #1 priority is our employees and community's safety and health," is an example.

Environmental concerns
"Organisations have also started focusing on environmental sustainability across the supply chain." Many have proposed ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."We still are not fully aware of the long-term impact of COVID on distributors," adds Wilson. "But we all know changes are evolving. Hopefully, they will help us become stronger and more resilient companies in the future."

Source: "COVID-19's impact on supply chain decisions: Strategic insights from NASDAQ 100 firms using Twitter data," by Amalesh Sharma, published in the Journal of Business Research, September 2020.

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