Story originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal on May 19, 2020, produced in partnership with WSJ Custom Content. Excerpts from the story below. To see the full story visit

Recognition of the need for greater agility and digital transformation in supply chains predates the global outbreak of the coronavirus. In a recent report based on a 2019 survey of 1,000 supply chain professionals (MHI Annual Industry Report, Embracing the Digital Mindset, sponsored by MHI and Deloitte), 73% of respondents expected robotics and automation to be commonly utilized within five years. And 82% expected the same with the use of predictive analytics. The gap between current use and future adoption, however, was stark. Only 39% of respondents said they already employed robotics and automation solutions, while fewer still (28%) had adopted predictive technologies.

Crisis, however, has a way of accelerating timelines. In completely upending the global economy, COVID-19 has not only injected great uncertainty into the manufacture and movement of goods, but has also caused significant changes to consumer behavior, creating end-to-end challenges in the effective management of supply chains.