Lessons from the coronavirus

On February 25, 2020, stock markets around the world plunged after multiple countries reported a surge of coronavirus cases, fueling concerns about new infection footholds in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. This week, market volatility has exploded once again. The S&P 500 plunged 19.4% from its February 19 high of 3,393.52 as the total number of coronavirus cases jumped to more than 118,000.

Commodity markets were also hit hard. Oil prices tumbled as Saudi Arabia threatened to flood oil markets. Copper is now at its lowest price since December 2016. Agricultural commodities weren’t spared, with U.S. wheat among the biggest losers. May corn futures in Chicago sank to a five-month low, with soybeans also dropping.

This is most likely a short-term problem, a reaction to fear and uncertainty related to a new virus. COVID-19 pales in comparison to the yearly flu, which infects millions and kills hundreds of thousands each year, but it’s a good example of how market disruptions can derail your business.

What should commodity-intensive businesses do to best manage supply chain crises like COVID-19?

1. Prepare in advance

a) Crises and market shocks are inevitable. Whether they are pandemics, wildfires, hurricanes, or political unrest, unexpected disruptions will occur. You need to prepare for the possibilities before they happen and develop contingency plans for potential disruptions so you can act fast when they occur.

2. Monitor the situation in real time

a) Monitor information constantly — in real time — so all decisions are made with an accurate picture of current events. Do not delay analyzing and responding to events, because the situation will keep changing and you need to stay ahead of it.

3. Employ advanced analytics

a) Run simulations and analyze options using modern technology — AI, ML, advanced analytics — to determine the best course of action. You need to analyze a lot of data fast, and modern analytics is the only way to handle so much data. Learn as much as you can as quickly as possible, so you can choose the best course of action.

4. Analyze historical events

a) While each crisis is different, analyzing similar events from the past can provide insight. What did you learn from the last event? How can that information help you now? What were the outcomes from your decisions — what worked and what didn’t? What other options do you have now that weren’t available before?

5. Stay flexible

a) In crises, the situation is constantly evolving. You need to quickly change direction when necessary. Stay open to new possibilities and explore creative opportunities. Evaluate new trading partners, new markets, even unconventional partnerships to develop the best plan for your business.

To thrive in challenging markets, you must invest in a digital supply chain. Digitalization connects all your data and systems together, enabling real-time visibility, collaboration across your entire value chain, and advanced analytics. Know instantly when markets are disrupted. Analyze the impact of events as they occur. Collaborate with trading partners and internal teams instantly.

Eka can help.

Eka’s Commodity Management Platform is built on a foundation of one connected data layer, ensuring you always have access to the information you need across your entire value chain. Our automated workflows replace manual processes, eliminating delays. Advanced analytics and custom discovery boards turn your data into immediate insight, so you can make better decisions faster.

Run simulations and explore potential disruptions. Prepare contingency plans. Evaluate historical events and trends and use all this information to prepare for crises long before they occur. And, when a crisis hits, use the speed and agility Eka provides to respond quickly and effectively to protect your business.

Learn how Eka can enable your digital transformation.

Mary DeFilippe spends her days creating engaging content — blogs, white papers, articles, and more — that helps readers better understand new technology. She can frequently be found walking around the office listening to heavy metal music while pondering ideas for her next blog.




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Global leader in digital solutions for trading & risk, supply chain management and financial services driven by cloud, AI/ML and analytics.

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