Investments in supply chain technology are on the rise, as companies struggle to become more agile while fending off an increasing number of cyberattacks.
Supply chain headaches aren’t going away anytime soon, with experts predicting that disruptions will continue well beyond 2022. The crisis has left many firms struggling with where to start, and what to focus on in reclaiming a sense of security and resilience.
Even in the best of circumstances, in a smoothly operating supply chain, the complexity of connections and interdependencies that govern the journey of products and components across the supply chain is staggering. Visibility into these networks is crucial for minimizing downtime, cost and risk to the organization. In many cases, the ability to trace assets throughout these networks is a compliance requirement.
When supply chains are disrupted, resilience is measured by its ability to maintain visibility and traceability amid shifting circumstances. It’s what allows companies to keep failure points from becoming system-wide bottlenecks. And it's what helps supply chain managers flex and adjust operations to minimize ripple effects and keep cost, service and quality in the organization relatively consistent.
Advanced cyber asset management is the backbone of this visibility and traceability. The better we understand the nature of cyber assets across the extended supply chain network — including asset behaviors, interdependencies and the policies they’re subject to — the better we can maintain the traceability required for supply chain resilience.
Advanced cyber asset management can ensure supply chain resilience for organizations by providing a unified view of assets. It requires taking a holistic inventory of all cyber assets to establish clarity and interoperability across the supply chain. From there, companies will be better equipped to tackle cyber asset security and operational needs, both within the organization and externally among a multitude of vendors and partners.
Several key priorities will define the success of a cyber asset management strategy. They include discovery and dependency mapping driven by data standardization and automation across platforms to help understand asset characteristics and behaviors — not just what they are or where they reside in the supply chain. The more complete the picture that organizations get of their spectrum of assets, the better orchestration and fewer surprises they’re experience in their supply chains.
Cyber asset management must also be configured for the realities of Industry 4.0 transformations that increasingly define supply chain operations. Given the complexities of these production and distribution settings, IT and operational technology (OT) assets are increasingly facing the need to be better coordinated. Cyber asset management therefore may need to encompass the entire spectrum of OT and IT assets — from IT teams’ hardware, networking and connectivity to OT-related machine data and machine software.
Throughout, cybersecurity asset management also requires an effective third-party risk management (TPRM) component. The many vendors and partners involved in the supply chain need a single source of truth and uniformly high cyber asset security protocols. This is critical to mitigating risk, and suppliers are increasingly finding that superior cyber asset management can be a differentiator. They realize that being good at cyber asset management makes them a more reliable and attractive partner to major companies trying to decide whom they can trust with their supply chains.
Supply chain disruptions might be unprecedented, but there’s hope in the power of modern cyber asset management capabilities to bring order and resiliency to that environment. A clear understanding of all assets in the supply chain — including their function, location and the policies that govern them — can revolutionize an organization’s ability to control the flow of products and understand the impact of changes in materials, processes and design. This in turn helps organizations make fast, accurate decisions to keep supply chains running and resilient for the enterprise.
Keith Neilson is technical evangelist at CloudSphere.
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