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The Nation’s Supply Chains Need An Upgrade Featured

The Nation’s Supply Chains Need An Upgrade "IN TIME"

Of the many lessons learned in the pandemic, one that continues to play out in real time is the ongoing disruptions to our national supply chains. The initial impacts of Covid rocked operations for many companies globally as they struggled to staff personnel and safely manage facilities. But nearly three years in, the inherent gaps in how our supply chains operate have been revealed, as well as the consequences of potential breakdowns as they occur.

Even without the pandemic’s sea change impacts on society, other undercurrents existed to challenge how our supply chains function, not the least in cybersecurity and the rise of ransomware attacks.

With digital transformation trends accelerating, there’s an opportunity to rethink how supply chains can become resilient to outside and unprecedented factors that could result in delays, higher demand and lower supply.

By utilizing technology to illuminate the health of our supply chains, we can better safeguard those networks and make them more adaptable in light of unforeseen events.

Let’s get visible

One of the key points that industry needs to address in supply chain health is striving for visibility into how networks are operating. By understanding the flow of products within an organization’s distribution networks, the easier it is to alleviate potential disruptions before they reach warehouses.

Tools like automation, data analytics and others can help visualize how products are moving through suppliers and detect and mitigate where disruptions could occur. Most importantly, visibility offers the essential component to ensuring supply chains can remain agile and respond quickly to unforeseen effects on product availability.

Embrace zero trust, now

Cybersecurity will remain one of the most crucial elements in the future of supply chain networks and its guiding force will be the adoption of zero trust architectures.

More than just the tools deployed to help enforce the philosophy, zero trust is about an organization’s policies around data access and verifying users on its network. Zero trust is the next enterprise-level cybersecurity best practice and the faster it can be integrated into the supply chain, the more resilient it will be to cyberattack.

As we’ve already seen with the SolarWinds hack, strong cyber hygiene and adherence to best practices will continue to be fundamental to safeguarding software supply chains.

In the government contracting space, that will include regulations to ensure companies are abiding by required cybersecurity standards and practices, such as the Department of Defense’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC).

Enforcement of these regulations, and the subsequent costs to companies, have been the source of much debate. But it’s important that these regulations strike a balance between cybersecurity enforcement and promoting inclusive, competitive markets for companies to operate in.

Upgrade how we manage the supply chain lifecycle

The market forces of digital transformation were incrementally shaping how the future of supply chain operations would look with issues like cloud adoption and technology evolution.

As we see demand continue to outpace supply in the wake of the pandemic, that evolution has accelerated and it’s time for our acquisition policies and governance to evolve with it.

Promoting the adoption of new technology and securing the legacy systems overseeing supply chain management is critical to not only obtaining optimization gains but ensuring stronger cybersecurity defense.

Whether it be private sector companies updating their information technology environments or regulators looking to establish secure policies on which these companies will function, supply chain governance has to keep pace with innovation and allow for more flexibility in development.

As we’ve seen over the past three years, the health of the supply chain is a critical, and often overlooked, part of our economy. We are at a crossroads for how it will be shaped in the future. We cannot predict what disruptors will appear tomorrow, but by wisely leveraging technology and utilizing emerging visibility tools we can build a supply chain environment better able to withstand them if we start today.  

Hector Collazo, CTO, Sev1Tech

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