The recent upheaval in the supply chain is unprecedented, thanks to ongoing disruptions tied to the pandemic, financial and trade sanctions stemming from Russia’s war in Ukraine, cyberattacks targeting the supply chain, and other factors. To become more resilient in the face of these disruptions, many companies are turning to aggressive modernization efforts, rushing to use every available technology tool while attempting to minimize the risks that come with the use of the tools. In this article, we’ll explore how better cyber-asset management is the key to striking the optimal balance.
Benefits and Risks of Adding New Technologies for Supply Chain Modernization
Supply chain challenges are likely to endure for the foreseeable future, with experts predicting supply chain disruptions to continue well beyond 2022. As companies try to adjust to this new normal of disruption and become more resilient, supply chain modernization is increasingly a target for enterprise investment and capital infusions to fund technology innovation.
The priority is to modernize across the whole service value chain — including one’s own operations and externally among the many vendors and partners involved in the supply chain. Technology modernization initiatives and enhanced connectivity across these extended supply chain ecosystems can enhance resilient operations in multiple ways.
Key focus areas for modernization include AIOps for production automation and auto resolution of issues; digital thread for enhanced visibility, traceability, and digital twin modeling across supply chain networks; and smart contracts in private blockchain networks for agility in adjusting partner arrangements and contracting agreements with a minimum of red tape.
Yet, for all their benefits, such capabilities come with risks, including new vulnerabilities that may be introduced across the broader attack surfaces that result from these implementations and the added connectivity that goes with them. To mitigate these risks, supply chain managers need visibility and control around cyber assets, ideally in the form of a comprehensive cyber-asset management strategy.
How to Plan and Implement Cyber-Asset Management Strategies
A strong cyber-asset management program can greatly strengthen the environment in which new technologies are operating. When correctly implemented, such a strategy can support maximum security, efficiency, and interoperability across the entire supply chain. The more complete picture an organization can get across its entire spectrum of assets — including their characteristics, behaviors, and interdependencies — the better orchestration and fewer surprises companies will have with their supply chains.
A good cyber-asset management strategy will facilitate data standardization, automation across platforms, traceability, and other modernization must-haves to deliver a more unified view of assets and dependencies. The ultimate goal of this strategy is to ensure the enterprise reaps the benefits of new technologies for supply chain resilience while minimizing any drawbacks.
For example, a company may look to embrace smart contracts via blockchain technology but do so on a private blockchain versus a public blockchain. This helps ensure that the organization gets the benefits of blockchain’s distributed ledger paradigm without risks such as vulnerability to possible snooping into contract details for clues about product schedules, company IP, or other proprietary information.
For this and any other supply chain modernization use case involving new technology, the cyber-asset management strategy must encompass the entire spectrum of OT and IT assets — including the IT teams’ hardware, networking, and connectivity, together with OT-related machine data and machine software.
Throughout, remember to ensure high standards across your entire extended network of partners and suppliers. This is where certifications and accreditations like ISO, CMMI, SOC2 can be particularly useful in evaluating the reliability of supply chain partners. Having strong compliance and cyber-asset management standards in place across partner networks is particularly critical in certain specialized supply chain environments — such as pharmaceutical cold chain, in which $35 billion is lost annually from failures in temperature control logistics.
New technologies can help modernize supply chains to adapt, but only if they’re configured correctly and securely. Cyber-asset management is the way to separate the promise from the pitfalls in leveraging new technologies for supply chain modernization and resilience.