Risk 2011: Society

In our last post, we discussed the top three technology risks facing your Supply Management organization that were chronicled in the World Economic Forum‘s 6th annual Global Risks report. Chronicling thirty seven types of risk divided into five categories, this report did a tremendous job of covering the types of risk that an average Supply Management organization needs to prepare for. Today, SI is going to continue its coverage of the report by discussing what it believes are the top three risks from a societal perspective.

03: Economic Disparity

Economic disparity, also known as economic inequality, refers to the disparity in the distribution of economic assets and income. Economic disparity can negatively impact a Supply Management organization in a number of ways. An obvious impact is if the majority of the target population in the geographic regions in which the parent organization operates, and wishes to sell the product, cannot afford the goods or services being offered, than Supply Management will be stressed to lower the price point or risk serious resource cutbacks as the organization faces reduced revenues and operating resources. A less obvious impact is that economically disadvantaged groups may also have restricted access to food and water. This in turn increases the severity of the top two societal risks to your supply chain.

02: Food Security

People need to eat. As a result, they need access to safe, secure sources of staple foods at an affordable price point. If they don’t have access to safe, secure sources of staple foods at an affordable price point, they riot — as we have seen in Tunisia, Algeria, Bangladesh, Mogadishu, India, China, and even the UK and Canada this year. When people riot, property gets destroyed — property that could include your delivery trucks, your goods in your warehouses, and even your production plants. Try ensuring supply with no distribution mechanisms for raw materials, no working production lines, and no warehouses to store anything.

01: Water Security

Not only do people need water, but supply chains need water. First of all, supply chains need energy. Energy production requires water (as per the Water Energy Nexus). For example, in the USA, about 2 US gallons of water evaporates to create one kilowatt hour of energy. Steel, which is a component of many goods, requires 62,000 gallons of water for the production of a single ton. Semi-conductor fabrication plants often require up to 2,000 gallons of water per minute. No water, no goods, no components, and no energy. And if water gets too scarce, so is food. And a vicious downward societal cycle will begin.