Safeguarding Supply Chains to Survive and Thrive

The Importance of Data to Business Continuity in a Crisis

Supply chains have been undergoing severe disruption, but even in the current climate, businesses can draw on data and analytics to better monitor their situation, make more informed decisions and protect their operations.

In our recent report, produced in partnership with Supply Management Insider, and Professor Richard Wilding OBE from Cranfield University, we recommend the actions your business can take to maintain continuity and safeguard its supply chains against any future global crises.

Information Gathering

Businesses now have unprecedented volumes of data at their disposal – an estimated 41 zettabytes in 2019, up from just two zettabytes in 2010 – with IDC predicting global data volumes will reach 175 zettabytes in the next five years. Data is powerful, but in times of crises there is often conflicting information, and benchmarks or classifications may differ from country to country.

We have put together a few top tips for making the best use of the vast data available:

  1. Data cannot speak and requires a skilled interpreter. As Richard Wilding OBE, Supply Chain Professor at Cranfield University, puts it: “It is how companies analyse information to turn it into wisdom that keeps supply chains and businesses operational.”
  2. Have an enquiring mind, judgement and an awareness of bias. It’s important to consider a series of questions, such as ‘What predictions are you trying to make?’ and ‘What is being learned?’ to guide thinking when using data.
  3. Question the source and whether it presents the full picture. By triangulating data from sources that do not have the same origin, businesses can better judge its accuracy.
  4. Finally, focus on what the data IS telling you. And not what you want it to tell you.

Once companies have interpreted the information, they must understand the impact to their organisation and its supply chain through risk assessment. As data changes, businesses too must be prepared to react and adjust decisions accordingly.

Traditional methods of risk assessment and continuity plans alone are no longer enough to cope with the challenges and pain points associated with Covid-19.

Risk Management in a New Paradigm

Traditional methods of risk assessment and continuity plans alone are no longer enough to cope with the challenges and pain points associated with Covid-19. businesses now need to supplement their risk assessment processes with new considerations.


Our report, Safeguarding Supply Chains to Survive and Thrive, examines how location, industry and traditional assessment should be combined with ongoing monitoring to evaluate the full impact of disruption in a crisis and make plans to combat it. We also provide four key steps to getting the right data in place and how to use it to drive evidence-based decisions.

Actionable Insights

Dun & Bradstreet has a long history of working with organisations and helping them to respond to crises like natural disasters and recessions. We have built our COVID-19 Impact Index to assist customers in building an updated risk-based assessment process for their supply chains. Through following the tips in the report and monitoring Tier 1 (direct) and Tier 2 (indirect) suppliers with the Impact Index, businesses can more effectively determine where to create contingency plans or arrange for flexibility.


Only with data can businesses make intelligent, evidence-based decisions. To do that, they need access to as much up-to-date and accurate information as they can. As Professor Wilding nicely puts it: “For knowledge and wisdom you need information, and you can’t monitor or gather intelligence without the data.”

Download the full report below, for all our guidance on using data to support business continuity in a crisis.

Download The Report