Leveraging technology to secure supply chains
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August 3, 2023 - Today’s globalized economy is leading to more complex supply chains. Increasing cybersecurity risks and tight labor markets have seen supply chains become more susceptible to software attacks and disruption. In the past year, 61 percent of US organizations have been directly impacted by a software supply chain threat, hindering the flow and delivery of goods in addition to potentially exposing customer data or sensitive intellectual property.
Disruptions like these have made it imperative to access real-time data and insights to increase supply chain visibility and traceability. This bank of data can help with understanding where products and data are, how they are being handled, and by whom.
Organizations are investing in new digital technologies such as such as the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchains and knowledge graphs, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and cloud computing to improve data analysis, capabilities to help mitigate risks, and supply chain management.
IoT gives organizations the ability to track and monitor assets to gather real-time data on location and condition. As radio frequency identification (RFID) tags or GPS sensors are added, data accuracy, visibility, and traceability are enhanced, thereby improving data governance across the entire supply chain.
Blockchains and knowledge graphs
Unlike in a traditional, centrally managed database, a blockchain is a decentralized technology that securely handles data transactions across multiple computers or digital devices. A knowledge graph shows the relationship between real-world entities such as objects, circumstances, or events through visualising information in a graph structure, hence the term knowledge ‘graph.’ Blockchains and knowledge graphs can complement each other by providing a robust framework for trusted knowledge exchange.
Information and transactions such as trade documents or audits and inspections can be recorded and verified in a secure manner using blockchains. Knowledge graphs then organize and capture that data through interconnected nodes and relationships. When used in supply chain management, blockchains serve as the underlying infrastructure to ensure the integrity and traceability of knowledge graph transactions, allowing companies to quickly understand the characteristics of, and potential risks to, different parts of the supply chain.
AI and ML
AI and ML tools analyse vast amounts of supply chain data to identify hidden patterns, correlations, and insights. By leveraging algorithms such as clustering or anomaly detection, organizations can identify trends, understand customer behaviour, and discover valuable knowledge about the ins and outs of supply chains. This knowledge discovery optimizes processes, identifies blockages, and uncovers opportunities for improvement.
AI and ML also enhance risk identification by analysing supplier performance, market volatility, and geopolitical factors, identifying warning signals that could lead to supply chain disruptions. Organizations can develop risk-mitigation strategies early in partner relationships to better optimize supplier networks and build resilience.
Cloud-based storage solutions allow organizations to scale their data storage up or down depending on demand. This flexibility means that organizations can easily adapt to a changing market and save costs whilst maximising operational efficiency. Cloud computing enables real-time collaboration and data sharing across the supply chain, leading to faster communication, greater trust among stakeholders, and reduced data-input-error risks.
The real-time insights, data processing, and optimization enabled by digital technologies is allowing organizations greater insight into supply chains than ever before. Having clear visibility into products and partners, organizations can develop stronger mitigation strategies to prevent future disruptions.
Watch Emerging tech: Privacy-by-design to transform supply chain management with Tony Pelli and Conor Hogan for more on supply chain visibility. Read Do you know where your shipments are? How visibility technology can mitigate cargo theft and security risk and 2023 Supply chain insights: Part 5: Future-proofing supply chain resilience by Tony Pelli. For more BSI insights on other EHS and Digital Trust topics, visit our Experts Corner. For real-time updates on top supply chain issues, register for BSI’s Connect SCREEN tool; this platform provides daily analysis on the latest and most relevant global supply chain trends.