Ensuring Business Continuity in the Face of Ongoing Supply Chain Disruption
PUBLISHED 6 March 2023

By Brad Kneller, Chief Network Officer at Global Cloud Xchange

The recent pandemic coupled with a number of other regional crises has created huge disruption to telecommunication supply chains around the world. At the same time, these supply chains have been vital in ensuring critical telecommunications equipment and other key services get to where they are needed most. Recent events have certainly tested the resourcefulness and resilience of telecommunication operators and the supply chains that support them.

Global Cloud Xchange (GCX), as a global infrastructure leader, must make rapid decisions and plan accordingly to ensure our business operations continue, and that we are able to sustain the crucial services we provide to our customers. We concentrated on five key areas to mitigate the ongoing supply chain disruptions:

Sharpened Focus on Capacity and Customer management: With lead times moving from 3-6 months to 12-18 months for the equipment required to light services, we have had to tighten up our customer opportunity and funnel management whilst also changing our internal processes to implement orders ahead of time, and in many cases, the pre-installation of services in order to mitigate these longer lead items. GCX has developed a bespoke system that provides live visibility of our entire global network, tracking customer opportunity, work-in-progress projects, and upgrades, and comparing our existing base, allowing us to de-risk the possibility of pinch points in our network and identify “hot” routes well in advance.

Smart Purchasing: Cross-functional teams comprising Engineering, Finance, and procurement, work together to shorten the “demand to supply” cycle. This ensures equipment and services needs are engineered, funded, and procured well in advance of being required. We have worked very closely with our major vendors and found them extremely supportive, in some cases we even have visibility into their own internal supply chains. 

Diversity in Supplier Base: To mitigate risk, we have embraced diversification of our major supplier base whilst also working with a number of regional suppliers in the re-sale market  to provide temporary cover and fulfill shortfalls on deliveries to ensure our demand is met. 

Rethink Shipping: GCX is fortunate to have a substantial global network with the ability to move common equipment between regions and countries as needed. We had to rethink the way we store and move equipment between continents, prioritizing deliveries to countries where customs delays are more acute.

Build and They Will Come?: Even the best planning in the world cannot cater to the “lumpiness” of the subsea carrier market. GCX leadership made a conscious decision to fund and fully invest in the network by placing a number of larger purchase orders with our main vendors to ensure that we ultimately have the capacity we need on the shelves and are ready for our customers. I am pleased to say that this strategy aids future growth opportunities. We are now reaping the rewards with multiple Tbs of capacity being delivered this year despite the supply chain challenges.

We are all looking forward to a return to business as usual and I am sure we can carry over some of the lessons learned from the past two years.