For me, the memory of living in Hong Kong during the SARS outbreak in 2003 will never be forgotten. The city was on lockdown and everyone was consumed by the media which counted the number of affected individuals and deaths on a daily basis. In thinking about my experience with SARS, for those of us who were fortunate enough not to come face-to-face with the virus, the impacts were largely twofold: the complete cessation of public social interaction, and the massive impact on business confidence. The former took a toll on everyone’s psychological state, and the latter was both psychological and deeply financial. I watched on as companies struggled with revenues that didn’t just slow but stopped entirely. Layoffs and forced unpaid leave policies were put into place and these had a domino effect on the health of the economy.
Today, the effects of COVID-19 are ravishing society. The loss of life is already staggering and, as I write this in early April, it is only getting much worse. These are challenging times.
Blue Umbrella’s mission is Making Business Better. From our inception a decade ago, everything that we do has been to assist our clients to make more ethical business decisions. When faced with the immense challenge of Coronavirus, we quickly searched for what we thought we could do to contribute. While I wish that we had manufacturing facilities that could quickly pivot to making respirators, or some other front line equipment, we don’t. We provide technology.
Technology can be a powerful force in today’s environment. The fact remains that while the human toll of Coronavirus has been tragic and widespread, it is even less widespread than the terrible effects on the employment market and on some companies' ability to exist, let alone to continue to provide products and services. This is an area, where our technology, specifically built in order to assess risks vendor relationships and distribution networks, can help.
It’s the business confidence issue relating to the coronavirus that’s particularly acute for most of us right now. When economic activity slows considerably, it jolts the economy in unexpected ways. Sometimes this effect is predictable, such as the cancellation of large events, but sometimes they are secondary, such as closing production of certain components which help power the global economy. Some are easy to see. Others are almost invisible until they rear their heads. Discovering vulnerabilities in the distribution and supply chain, as quickly as possible, has become essential. This is an area where Blue Umbrella is uniquely positioned to help.
Blue Umbrella has a technology that interacts with agents, distributors and vendors in order to help assess vendor and distributor risks. Our teams have been working hand-in-hand with some of our key Fortune 500 clients to establish a best-in-class methodology and workflow to help apply this amazing engine to the problem of COVID-19 impact on supply and distribution chains. I am incredibly proud of the team who created this solution. We believe that helping identify and assess these risks in advance will help reduce the impact of the virus on economic activity.
Once the SARS virus began to dissipate, the economy didn’t just spring back, it roared back. By helping companies identify and deal with short term issues, it is our hope that we lead not only to a less acute economic impact, but also to an even greater recovery. We hope that this initiative is meaningful and significant.
Learn more about how you can get started with our Supply Chain Impact Assessment module - for free.