Supply chain execs rank visibility top priority post-COVID
A new study has found that supply chain visiblity will be the highest priority for SCMs and logistics leaders as the world manoeuvres towards a post-COVID recovery, with predictive and prescriptive digital technology also high on the agenda.
Now in its fourth year, has uncovered how companies dealt with one of their biggest challenges yet, COVID-19. The State of the Supply Chain Innovation Survey examines how leading supply chain professionals are investing, innovating and growing. It covers different strategies and initiatives, also commitment to new technology.
- 90% of participants said supply chain visibility technology was a priority or high priority
- 69% of those surveyed said predictive and prescriptive analytics is a high priority (28%) or priority (41%) for their company
- Of those surveyed, 55% said that innovative technologies like robotics, automation, and emerging solutions are a high priority (21%) or priority (34%) for their organization
- 24% of respondents identified eCommerce as being an extremely important priority
- When asked to rank supply chain capabilities in order of importance when running an ecommerce operation:
- 41% of respondents ranked same-day or two-day delivery as their first priority
- 47% ranked inventory levels and availability visibility as their number one
- 31% of respondents ranked easy and free returns as their second most important capability
“What we’re seeing is an industry that is prepared to invest in digital technologies and innovation to meet the challenges of today’s customer demands,” said , vice president of innovation and research and development at Kenco. “The pandemic has highlighted the need for innovation at every level of the supply chain and has accelerated many companies’ digital transformation initiatives by several years. It’s only logical, then, that most of our participants are more than ready to extend their budgets to remain competitive, and it’s up to 3PLs to keep up.”
What is next for the industry?
It is clear that COVID-19 has had an impact on the industry bringing unexpected challenges, such as staff shortages, travel restrictions and an increased need for skilled labour. The pandemic has allowed companies to create new initiatives and solve issues they may not have realised existed before.
The research suggests that companies need real-time insights into their operations to deliver excellent customer service, an increasing focus on customer experience has increasingly elevated the position of supply chain. As the industry looks forward, there is a need for digital transformation and for supply chain professionals to make investments into new technologies and solutions.
Google and NIST Address Supply Chain Cybersecurity
As high-level supply chain attacks hit the news, Google and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have both developed proposals for how to address software supply chain security. This isn’t a new field, unfortunately. Since supply chains are a critical part of business resilience, criminals have no qualms about targeting its software. That’s why identifying, assessing, and mitigating cyber supply chain risks (C-SCRM) is at the top of Google and NIST’s respective agendas.
High-Profile Supply Chain Attacks
According to Google, no comprehensive end-to-end framework exists to mitigate threats across the software supply chain. [Yet] ‘there is an urgent need for a solution in the face of the eye-opening, multi-billion-dollar attacks in recent months...some of which could have been prevented or made more difficult’.
Here are several of the largest cybersecurity failures in recent months:
- SolarWinds. Alleged Russian hackers slipped malicious code into a routine software update, which they then used as a Trojan horse for a massive cyberattack.
- Codecov. Attackers used automation to collect credentials and raid ‘additional resources’, such as data from other software development vendors.
- Malicious attacks on open-source repositories. Out of 1,000 GitHub accounts, more than one in five contained at least one dependency confusion-related misconfiguration.
As a result of these attacks and Biden’s recent cybersecurity mandate, NIST and Google took action. NIST held a 1,400-person workshop and published 150 papers worth of recommendations from Microsoft, Synopsys, The Linux Foundation, and other software experts; Google will work with popular source, build, and packaging platforms to help companies implement and excel at their SLSA framework.
What Are Their Recommendations?
Here’s a quick recap: NIST has grouped together recommendations to create federal standards; Google has developed an end-to-end framework called Supply Chain Levels for Software Artifacts (SLSA)—pronounced “Salsa”. Both address software procurement and security.
Now, here’s the slightly more in-depth version:
- NIST. The organisation wants more ‘rigorous and predictable’ ways to secure critical software. They suggest that firms use vulnerability disclosure programmes (VDP) and software bills of materials (SBOM), consider simplifying their software and give at least one developer per project security training.
- Google. The company thinks that SLSA will encompass the source-build-publish software workflow. Essentially, the four-level framework helps businesses make informed choices about the security of the software they use, with SLSA 4 representing an ideal end state.
If this all sounds very abstract, consider the recent SolarWinds attack. The attacker compromised the build platform, installed an implant, and injected malicious behaviour during each build. According to Google, higher SLSA levels would have required stronger security controls for the build platform, making it more difficult for the attacker to succeed.
How Do The Proposals Differ?
As Brian Fox, the co-founder and CTO at Sonatype, sees it, NIST and Google have created proposals that complement each other. ‘The NIST [version] is focused on defining minimum requirements for software sold to the government’, he explained, while Google ‘goes [further] and proposes a specific model for scoring the supply chain. NIST is currently focused on the “what”. Google, along with other industry leaders, is grappling with the “how”’.