Afternoon Coffee: Joe Biden becomes 46th US president; Spike in frontline e-commerce hiring; SolarWinds hack leads to critical eye on supply chain

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Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday.

President Biden takes the helm of a deeply divided country with numerous crises. On his first day, Biden is set to take a series of executive actions — on the pandemic, climate, immigration and more, according to the Associated Press.

“Biden will face a series of urgent, burning crises like we have not seen before, and they all have to be solved at once. It is very hard to find a parallel in history,” presidential historian Michael Beschloss told the Associated Press. “I think we have been through a near-death experience as a democracy. Americans who will watch the new president be sworn in are now acutely aware of how fragile our democracy is and how much it needs to be protected.”

More history was made as Kamala Harris became the first Black person, first of South Asian descent and the first woman to be sworn in as vice president.

Frontline e-commerce roles grow 73% year-over-year

As retailers or logistics companies scrambled to acquire workers to meet the huge demand of e-commerce orders, it led to a boom of recruiting and onboarding of thousands of new frontline workers, according to Supply Chain Dive.

LinkedIn records show that frontline e-commerce roles grew 73% year-over-year (YoY) between April and October of 2020, indicating the highest YoY growth reported. LinkedIn’s job numbers show that the high demand continues even after the peak season. The article reported that top job titles included driver, supply chain associate, package handler and personal shopper. The top hiring locations were Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C.

The ISM Manufacturing Business Survey for December said that supplier deliveries were delayed because of labor availability. Manufacturers' inabilities to attract and retain workers is continuing to disrupt service levels. The article also said that the demand for supply chain expertise hasn’t been limited to just frontline workers — many companies are looking to bring in supply chain managers in the C-suite as well.

SolarWinds hack provides opportunity to analyze supply chains and digital data

The SolarWinds hack that made headlines last fall has turned out to provide a jolt to supply chains that help the digital economy run, according to the Wall Street Journal.

After the hack, many public and private sector organizations worked to analyze their use of the SolarWinds software after it was disclosed that as many as 18,000 customers downloaded a malicious update. It led to businesses assessing their third-party partners’ network connections to index the ability for attackers to hack by moving through a supply chain to access or steal data, the article said.

Cybersecurity experts said the SolarWinds hack underscores how important it is to protect supply chains.

“You can’t assume that [supply chains] defend themselves,” Chris Inglis, former deputy director of the National Security Agency, said at an event that the WSJ covered. “That’s the principal failure that we’re observing in SolarWinds.”

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