For many of us, this single year has felt like an entire decade.
Even though much of the world began to regain (albeit shakily) its footing, we all continue to experience the lasting, and compounding affects of the pandemic. Decidedly, we have pushed on in an effort to keep the world moving—together—at a time when we have never been more interdependent.
There is much to worry about. There is much to celebrate. There are still many unknowns.
This month, I had the honor of keynoting at SEMICON West, one of the largest industry conferences even prior to the pandemic era. On stage, speaking to hundreds of manufacturers in and around the semiconductor ecosystem (one that touches everything from automobiles to pacemakers and toothbrushes), I focused on those unknowns—how not just risk (but also resilience) is tied to true transparency and collaboration between business partners. Key to financial health, both risk and resilience aren’t the only ever-increasingly deep grey areas around the world.
While last year’s predictions fit neatly into categorized thematic boxes—the below encompass a wide range of ideas and prognostications that reflect the general "blending" many of us have felt throughout 2021: the financial health of suppliers and buyers, product design and impact investing, work lives and personal lives, geopolitical uncertainty and popular culture, food deliveries to the International Space Station and empty fridges.
Among them all, one thing is certain—supply chains run through everything.
Beyond the connective tissue of global commerce, they represent (both in theory and practice) the success of societies and families as we find our individual and collective way in the pandemic era.
How companies manage their supply chain risk now directly effects each of us.
Here are 22 (plus a few more) team members' thoughts ahead of 2022, after (another) year unlike any other.
Brendan Mironov (Senior Associate, Data Analysis)
Supply chain shortages, delays, and strains will continue to be rampant in 2022. Industries across the world, from computer chip manufacturers to mom-and-pop bagel shops in New York City, continue to feel the shocks of labor shortage, global trade volatility, and record-breaking shipping demand. In 2022, I predict that a strengthened supply chain will set industry leaders and laggards apart.
Jack Bertolini (Senior Client Support Associate)
I think while supply shortages and increased inflation will put a lot of financial stress on companies, the labor market will continue to add complications. With CPI/Inflation at record levels, companies will have to pay higher wages to their existing employees, so they don't look for other options. We may see higher turnover rates and increased labor costs, which can lead to more bankruptcies, supply delays, or disruptions. Transparency with your counterparties is key!
Tessa York (Integrated Marketing Coordinator)
In 2022, I predict that the "second wave" of pandemic-induced financial ruin will result in a sharp increase in companies filing for bankruptcies. The debt can that had been kicked down the road via government subsidies and payouts will no longer keep companies with poor financial health afloat. Additionally, the delayed goods/products that are being held in bottlenecks throughout the global supply chain will finally reach their destinations and be able to be sold. At this point, however, demand will have decreased as holidays pass and pre-ordered presents are foregone and shoppers are forced to shop at brick-and-mortar stores for timely gifts. Inventory levels will then increase and the perceived accounts receivables will not materialize—further compounding follow-on effects.
Brad Saegesser (Senior Solutions Specialist)
Interplanetary supply chains take off in 2022 with SpaceX launching the first robotic cargo flight to Mars.
Eamonn Mannion (Network Outreach Supervisor)
Many companies spent 2021 recovering. As we continue to see the impacts of COVID, and as The FHR Exchange continues to evolve in 2022, I predict that we will see more and more suppliers discover and join The Exchange on their own as they begin to see the value in transparency and understanding their own financial health. Not only will they benefit from this, but their clients will too.
Will Powell (Strategic Client Success Manager)
Human Rights protests at the Winter Olympics in China and World Cup in Qatar will heighten global tensions in the East and Middle East. This will pressure western companies to seek alternative supply chain partners.
Increased adoption of remote work and continued demand for Information Security is going to come to a head. A remote employee working for a prominent origination will be hacked, triggering a panic. New resources for better remote collaboration, security, and socializing will be developed.
There will be a new social media platform for avatars called Pandora, triggering a massive legal battle with the music streamer.
Ostap Nalysnyk (Network Outreach Associate)
My prediction for 2022 is that there will be a surge of suppliers expressing interest in becoming members of the FHRX as they will want to proactively know their financial health before their clients even request it.
Jaimie Anzelone (Head of Marketing)
We will see companies place an increased focus on the upskilling and reskilling of workers to improve supply chain resiliency and risk management. As supply chains become more complex and management strategies more advanced, skill requirements are rapidly changing, emphasizing labor shortages. With the demand to attract and retain supply chain talent at an all time high, there will be a significant need and investment for training professionals at all levels, from entry-level to executives, to build a more resilient future.
Will Peabody (Account Executive)
Supply chain is now a buzz topic the common business-minded person knows. As such, it will be leveraged in marketing and sales collateral by brands to win business. It’s not just their tech is better or performance is stronger, but that they can out-deliver their competition and meet their customer’s expectations. Previously the consumer didn’t even know this variable was out there, now a more educated consumer will come to expect quick, accurate delivery. I expect to see a lot of commercials mentioning not just how great the offering is—but an increased emphasis on how accessible the benefits are to the consumer.
In pop culture, in an unprecedented series of events, Pete Davidson starts dating Megan Fox, sending Machine Gun Kelly into a deep songwriting frenzy that ultimately ends up with him winning multiple Grammy Awards.
Everett Weston (Account Executive)
I predict that bankruptcies will increase significantly next year as companies will be impacted more limited lending and reduced purchasing power due to inflation and shortages of critical parts.
Brad Silberberg (Director, Network Sales)
In 2022, technology in supply chain will be big. I predict further worker shortages will prompt supply chain organizations to prioritize adding automation and artificial intelligence to their process which will result in productivity improvements throughout the year. I also think you’ll see more supply chain organizations adopt cloud storage to avoid cyber-attacks and other threats.
Kay Prince (Marketing Manager)
In 2022, I believe that more companies will have to create a dynamic and agile digital marketing approach to handle more supply chain disruptions in a handful of industries. Suppliers and distributors will have a closer relationship creating a gap in each of their marketing departments. Marketing roles will have to continue to evolve to target their main accounts, keep top of mind, and show solutions to their pain points. This will create a higher ad spend and higher need to be seen over their competitors. Companies are going to have to adapt and change their marketing approach in 2022.
Ari Goldstein (Account Executive)
With the limitations of the “Just-in-time” approach to supply chain becoming increasingly apparent over the past couple of years, supply chain teams are looking to additional supply chain management philosophies for inspiration.
In 2022 and beyond, we will see a rise of iterative “Agile Supply Chains” borrowing from the Agile methodology of product management. This solution-focused approach—to the challenges that arise in the complex, interdependent networks that global brands are reliant on—will help reduce the delays and downtime that has plagued our supply chains in 2021.
Justin Labelle (Managing Director, Head of Client Delivery & Operations)
Between the unknowns of COVID and various perspectives and policies on where and how people work within companies, 2022 will bring additional innovation in employee engagement and people operations. There is significant technological opportunity for improvements to communication, health and wellness, and safety and compliance to name a few.
Douglas Cameron (President & Co-Head of Product)
COVID will continue to be a persistent problem and inflation will continue in 2022; the spread of COVID will adversely affect global economies in 2022 as immunity wanes and new variants evade the current vaccines.
With supply chains stretched to their limits, the world’s governments cannot play the card of maintaining economic growth using stimulus that encourages consumer spending on goods. Instead, central banks would have to choke off spending with higher interest rates to avoid excessive inflation.
Putin will take advantage of COVID/supply chain/inflation issues to expand his control over Ukraine; Trump will take advantage of COVID/supply chain/inflation issues to assert his candidacy for President.
Tim Wilks (Account Director)
I feel a key factor next year and beyond will be the US / China decoupling. This won’t be a complete decouple (compare this to the US / Soviet Union relationship during the Cold War, with virtually no commercial contact between the two blocs) but will be a wind down. This will result in significant onshoring and global supply chain redesign. With change comes risk, which is the business we’re in.
Patrick Bolchoz (Account Executive)
If US consumers continue the trend of purchasing more goods and less services, and the economic climate continues to be strong, I see companies continuing to struggle to maintain enough inventory to meet consumer demand–well into 2022. With ~80% of the global supply chain being represented by private companies, the looming tightening of global credit will challenge larger corporations to collaborate more closely with their supplier network to ensure viability, and we will see new standards of transparency evolve.
Philip Murray (Senior Vice President of Product & Design)
Companies will transition additional parts of their supply chain away from just-in-time delivery models to just-in-case models, but as they increase their stocks to build resilience, the result will be further short- to medium-term shortages for certain consumer goods.
More and more e-commerce firms—and the transportation services they employ—will turn to drones and autonomous vehicles in the effort to reduce labour and congestion issues that adversely affect delivery times.
Meanwhile, environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) will become even more of a priority for businesses, investors and consumers as a factor in their decisions about where to invest their money.
Pete Tantillo (Chief Operating Officer & Chief Financial Officer)
CFOs will continue to be wary of impacts of “pandemic weariness” as new variants come and go, and the supply chain remains unsettled. They must be smarter about how they allocate capital and fund areas of highest return–restoring damaged company reputation and confidence will be paramount (example: an auto industry that clearly lost confidence by the public leading to a vertically-integrated supply chain to distribution to dealer to consumer mess).
Consumers are tired of hearing about “chip shortages” and other pandemic issues hitting supply chain and will start viewing that as an excuse to a problem. Resilient companies must depend on RapidRatings to shore-up their risk of supplier non-performance, lack of business continuity and other third-party issues.
Most people will continue to be startled by eventual tightening of credit as a reprieve was granted in the market in 2020-21 but will surely not persist–making only the most resilient companies stand out.
Paul Madonna (Network Outreach Associate)
In 2022, the oil & gas industry will take a heavy hit as governments, banks, and other financial institutions increase their investments in clean energy sources. A tap in the national reserve will bring gas prices down below $3 per gallon in the short term, but once it has passed, prices will soar right back up to $3 per gallon and higher as a result of the shift to more clean energy investments.
Maren Costello (Regional Head, People & Culture)
2020 and 2021 have changed the way we work forever.
The year 2022 will continue to be another year we will have to ride the waves of transformation. For the first time, we’ve got the potential for five different generations in the workplace at the same time since Gen Z are graduating and will be on the job hunt as we go into 2022. The multi-generational workforce now includes teams of traditionalists (born 1927-1946) to Generation Z (2001-2020). Working in this multi-generational workforce—we will need to direct our attention to finding work-life balance, keeping an open mindset, discussing topics that transcend generations and focusing on the things that bring us together.
Janet Ou (Client Success Manager)
This winter, people will be less willing to dine outdoors but are more likely to continue wearing their face masks because they really do keep you warm!
As more people return to work in the office, a market for pet therapists will be created to help pandemic pets cope with separation anxiety.
Nitin Walia (Chief Client Officer)
In 2022, I expect companies to reduce their focus on lean working capital and manufacturing strategies. They will, instead, expand the size of their supplier networks, plan for increased redundancy, and increase their inventory levels. The increased resilience that results from these strategies will ultimately benefit their customers.
Maxwell Gordon (Graphic & Web Design Manager)
Minimalism is dead. Print is alive and well. The 90s are back. Patterns will clash. The design rules you thought were untouchable are up in flames. Get ready to get uncomfortable.
It’s been a tense two years, and design is here to show it. Last year we saw a powerful revival of retro styles from the 90s, 80s, and beyond. Brands are no longer concerned with following the 2010s’ status quo of minimalist design, flat, simple colors, and familiar sans-serif typefaces. They’re here to make a statement and are bringing maximalism into their visual language. Less used to be more, but more is the new more: more realism, more textures, more typefaces, more colors, and more energy.
In 2022, designers won’t be trying to keep the viewer comfortable. We’re going to see a lot of clashing, charged elements—a design principle called tension. We’re already seeing this with brands like Spotify, where their recent “Spotify wrapped” caused a stir in the design world. Many are critical of the work’s legibility and “cleanliness,” saying a company like theirs can afford not to have “bad” design. But art and design don’t always exist to be easy, and that doesn’t make them bad. If an artist makes you feel anything, they’re successful. This new wave of design is here to challenge you.
Eric Evans (Managing Director, Business Development)
There will be continued emphasis on digitalization with a platform-to-platform approach to supplier risk management, leveraging APIs to operationalize Financial Health into your workflows.
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