NEWS AND VIEWS ON THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS
Solve supply chain security challenges to differentiate your business and find new growth opportunities.
As products become more scarce and store shelves bare, all eyes are on supply chains. Research in 2021 by supply chain visibility provider FourKites found that business leaders in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands are contending with “demand shock, labor shortages, port disruptions, and capacity constraints.” The magnitude of the challenges that supply chains face may distract your clients from prioritizing security – but don’t let them. Several serious threats to supply chain security are always present.
Physical and cyberattacks
Supply chains carry food, fuel, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, raw materials and parts critical to manufacturing, which unfortunately makes them targets of terrorist attacks. Two recent, high-profile examples are the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack in the U.S. and the JBS Holdings ransomware attack impacting beef supply in several locations worldwide.
Businesses face a substantial challenge to plan and execute a supply chain security strategy due to their geographic footprint and their complex networks that include manufacturers, vendors, warehouses and distribution centers, and wholesalers or retailers.
Additionally, as operations undergo digital transformation, business leaders must identify and protect every vulnerability that a hacker or ransomware group could exploit. IT teams need to manage the growing responsibilities of software patches and IT hygiene as well as Internet of Things (IoT) device security and potential threats related to the cloud or bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environment.
Employee theft and piracy
Employees or thieves may be tempted to steal inventory from supply chains that fetch a high price on the black market. However, solving this problem of inventory security is two-fold:
It’s necessary to control access by people inside and outside the company, such as drivers and partners
Supply chains are also challenged to track inventory granularly when large volumes are moving from manufacturers or distributors to their retail destinations – a trip that could take products around the world. The FourKites report states that 67 percent of business leaders responsible for their supply chains say end-to-end freight traceability is their biggest challenge.
Counterfeit products and smuggling
The fact that supply chains move products efficiently hasn’t gone unnoticed by counterfeiters and smugglers. They can introduce illegal goods and counterfeit products into the supply chain to move them worldwide.
Not only does this issue create threats to consumers, for example, who rely on the integrity of pharmaceuticals, but it also impacts supply chain capacity, taking up space in containers and trucks needed for authentic products.
How ISVs and VARs Can Contribute to Improved Supply Chain Security
Technology can provide supply chains with the access control and visibility they need to operate securely. Your clients may benefit from evaluating and upgrading:
Physical access control: Supply chains relying on legacy methods like paper logbooks to track who moves in and out of facilities and warehouses are inadequate to protect valuable inventory. Offer your clients digital upgrades that grant access only with identity authorization.
Surveillance systems: Cameras outside and inside facilities can alert managers to intrusions and may serve as a deterrent by letting people know they are watched, and there’s a record of their activity.
Data collection: Your clients who use barcode technology may benefit from transitioning to an RFID or IoT solution to provide visibility, even at the product level.
Cybersecurity solutions: Each new system that connects to a network must be protected with technology that can stop known threats and monitor for intrusions and potentially malicious activity.
Product track and trace: Some products require strict controls to ensure they are safe for consumers. Track-and-trace technology and antitamper systems can ensure authenticity, product safety, and compliance with regulations.
The Opportunity for Innovation
Your expertise is the key to providing supply chain systems that solve problems – maybe in new ways. More than simply deploying solutions, you can also advise your clients on minimizing the complexity of their IT environments, keeping core systems clean and manageable. You can also help them determine the best ways to manage data that their IT systems generate, keeping it accessible and ensuring it can be restored, if necessary.
Additionally, advanced systems that leverage artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics or blockchain may help your clients improve key performance indicators (KPIs) related to efficiency, costs, and competitiveness.
Solving supply chain security challenges will also help you differentiate your business and find new growth opportunities. While your clients tackle increased demand during a labor shortage and transportation disruptions, let them know you have supply chain security under control.