May 17, 2020

Comment: Building a digital transformation maturity model

Digital Disruption
digital supply chain
digital transformation supply chain
Technology
Matt Gunn, Infor
4 min
Developing a maturity model of supply chain digital transformation is critical for businesses
One of the hardest things to watch is your industry getting eaten from the inside as the slow inability to change paves the way for new competition and...

One of the hardest things to watch is your industry getting eaten from the inside as the slow inability to change paves the way for new competition and digital business models to disrupt and diminish your industry’s role in the world.

But such is the era we live in, where digital technologies have democratised business, and made it easier, faster, and less costly for anyone with a good idea to build a successful business.

Digital transformation maturity model

History is littered with examples of these disruptive changes. Brick-and-mortar retail and the rise of ecommerce, printed newspapers versus online, yellow cabs, and Uber. While old business models still coexist with the new ones, their influence has been reduced by newer, more accessible, and digitally-powered businesses. And countless hours and dollars have been spent trying to figure out how to stay relevant as customer tastes shift.

Change isn’t easy. Especially from within an enterprise, where transforming even the most menial of processes feels like moving mountains. But as we like to say, no enterprise is an empire unto itself. Today’s businesses rely on the partnership and coordination of many different suppliers, factories, carriers, and financiers to serve their customers on a global scale.

Indeed, the supply chain, where 80% of the data needed to run a business is ripe for change. And new digital technologies are changing the world of operations and logistics fast. Still for many, the question remains, “Where do I begin?”

The answer isn’t always easy. And no two journeys are alike. Digital transformation of the supply chain doesn’t magically happen with a flash and a bang, but with careful consideration toward an enterprise’s employees, its trading partners, and all of its key stakeholders down the line.

As with any journey, digital transformation of the supply chain is easier when you have a GPS. And while no two destinations are quite the same, many share similar characteristics – waypoints and landmarks along the way. It’s not just about measuring success (no one goes the same speed), but progress toward a specific outcome over time.

A maturity model is one way to think about your organization’s progress toward digital supply chain transformation. Rather than forcing change for the sake of change, or work toward a desired goal but with no sense of where to begin, this type of approach helps bring perspective to the many challenges that need to be addressed over time. As we think of it, digital transformation happens across four phases:

Stage 1: Intra-enterprise visibility

Transformative journeys begin with communication, especially within the four walls of an enterprise. The first step is all about aligning systems and processes internally in order to eliminate departmental and functional silos within the business. While it may seem low value, many executives would be surprised at how many internal challenges an assessment might show.

Stage 2: Networked supply chain

It’s said that individual businesses don’t compete – their supply chains do. Success today depends upon orchestration across the extended value chain. Traditionally, many enterprises have leaned on EDI for visibility across individual business partners, or data from a third-party logistics provider for comprehensive transportation visibility. But point systems don’t show the big picture, and logistics partners don’t always have information that covers the supply chain at great depth. To truly extend visibility and communications across the supply chain, all partners and suppliers must be connected across the same network, sharing a single view of the truth.

Stage 3: Customer integrated

End-to-end supply chain visibility opens up new possibilities to collaborate, improve/streamline processes, and turn insight into action. Businesses at this stage of maturity have a better sense of what customers want and when they want it; they gain the ability to sense and respond to demand patterns. At this stage, enhanced analytics and business intelligence turn insight into action through increased automation of systems, effectively extending systems like ERP or PLM beyond the four walls of the enterprise

Stage 4: Predictive

The first three stages of supply chain digital maturity are all about breaking down silos and building out a network of connected, integrated, and responsive nodes across the global supply chain. This stage builds upon all of the preceding work, truly taking a business into the future – the network itself, fully connected to suppliers and demand signals, with enhanced automation and connectivity across, becomes predictive.

What Technologies Will Get You There?

With this view of transformation in mind, it’s worth noting that no single piece of hardware or software solves the problem, getting businesses to that desired end state. It takes a village, so to speak – not to mention the flexibility and extensibility of a cloud-based platform to deliver the type of change most enterprises need in order to stay relevant in an increasingly digital future.

But as businesses evolve and adopt more of the technology needed to drive digital transformation, they will begin to see greater benefits across the supply chain. Remember: no two journeys are a like. But with a good GPS and the right mix of communication and collaboration across the extended supply chain, businesses can drive truly meaningful change.

To learn more about the digital transformation maturity model, please download the report.

Share article

May 17, 2021

Biden’s Cybersecurity Executive Order; A Leading Solution?

Cybersecurity
Supplychain
Technology
cyber
8 min
Joe Biden’s cybersecurity Executive Order comes at a time when American cyberinfrastructure is buckling under external pressure. Is this the solution?

 

Colonial Pipelines, Microsoft Exchange, SolarWinds. What do those names all have in common? They’re all subject to highly sophisticated breaches of the United States’ cyberinfrastructure. Each serves as a sobering reminder that, in an age of advanced technological power, criminality and danger lurk around every corner in an increasingly virtual, data-dependent world. 

There has been a myriad of cybersecurity incidents in recent times, allowed by insufficient cybersecurity defences that have left both the public and private sectors vulnerable. As an outsider looking in, it’s evident that both sectors must prepare themselves for a long, drawn-out battle against increasingly complex and malicious cyber attacks from both rival nations ─ China and Russia, for example ─, and global cybercriminals. 

 

The Cybersecurity Executive Order

To that end, American businesses and institutions likely breathed a sigh of relief at the back-end of last week.

Following on from President Biden showing his government’s willingness to, at least, attempt to mitigate future risks by approving America’s Supply Chains review, the ‘leader of the free world’ has signed yet another Executive Order ─ this time, in a bid to improve the United States’ cybersecurity infrastructure and to protect Federal Government networks, in increasingly turbulent and troubled times. 

According to the White House briefing, the Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity will make a significant contribution to the modernisation of US cybersecurity defences by protecting Federal networks, improving information-sharing between government agencies and the private sector on cyber issues, and it should strengthen the nation’s ability to respond to incidents when they occur. 

It will be the first of many ambitious steps by the Administration to bring US cybersecurity into the present, but the might of the leading superpower isn’t necessarily enough; the initiatives being laid out will be dependent on collaboration between government and private bodies. The recent Colonial Pipeline incident emphasises that point ─ Federal action alone is not enough to protect every aspect of the country’s cybersphere. 

With that in mind, the White House states that “much of our critical domestic infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, and those private sector companies make their own determination regarding cybersecurity investments. We encourage private sector companies to follow the Federal Government’s lead and take ambitious measures to augment and align cybersecurity investments with the goal of minimising future incidents.” 

 

Key Factors of the Executive Order

Specifically, the Executive Order that President Biden signed last Thursday will: 

 

  1. Remove barriers to threat information sharing between government and the private sector.
  2. Modernise and implement stronger cybersecurity standards in the Federal Government. 
  3. Improve software supply chain security.
  4. Establish a Cybersecurity Safety Review Board.
  5. Create a standard playbook for responding to cyber incidents. 
  6. Improve detection of cybersecurity incidents on Federal Government networks.
  7. Improve investigative and remediation capabilities.

 

Industry-Leading Insight

Fortunately, Supply Chain Digital has been given some stellar insight on the cybersecurity Executive Order, from three industry-leading 

 

Padraic O’Reilly, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, CyberSaint Security

Information sharing within the cybersecurity community has long been decried as something there needs to be more of. That said, it must be approached with the proper guardrails in place to ensure the protection of those sharing the information. As industries that have struggled with standardising and information sharing begin this journey, look to sectors that have successfully done it for decades─specifically, the financial services sector. By extending the guidelines seen in financial services, the disincentives for information sharing are reduced.

As the government looks to increase the communication between public and private sectors, they must work to ensure that it is a two-way street. The EO does acknowledge this need; however, historically, private sector CISOs have felt that the information sharing ends up as a one-sided relationship. I was heartened to see the urgency of the Order as well. I think the biggest challenge will be balancing the urgency with making sure that the two-way line of communication gets opened up.

The balance between the data and human problems in cyber is something we look at early and often. As a step to enhancing the posture of organisations, both public and private, the government needs to be contributing data sets such that risk management can be enhanced and performed with greater precision and knowledge. By pooling risk data across sectors, security leaders can get a complete picture which is what is severely lacking across both organisations and industries.

This executive order is a strong step toward enhancing public-private partnerships within critical infrastructure cybersecurity. The callout to the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, one of the most significant public/private sector collaborations to date, was very heartening to see and certainly serves as a model going forward.

By widening the FAR to require cyber hygiene standards across all agencies, we can begin to set some baselines. Furthermore, by learning from and integrating the DFARS and CMMC rollout within the DIB, we may begin to see the expansion of CMMC to other sectors. The critical step, though, is getting teeth behind the regulation while also making stronger cyber practices accessible. With the added language in the Order around software acquisition contracts and discussion of digital transformation of government infrastructure, it will be good to see the data collected as a result of those efforts shared with the private sector efficiently.

 

Joseph Cortese, CEH, Director Research & Development at A-LIGN

Although the intent of this executive order is admirable, it’s quite a laundry list. Implementing everything listed will take a very long time – especially at the pace the Federal Government moves. But here’s what really compounds the issue: yes, every step in this executive order will serve to harden the systems in question, and each of these additional frameworks will move us in a more secure direction. But it is impossible to tell if the problems we’ve been experiencing are the result of fundamentally broken systems or a failure to adopt technologies and frameworks that would have otherwise provided adequate security. Viewed through that lens, if we pile on more technology requirements that do not get adopted down the supply chain, we are no better off. 

That said, there is a lot of strength in what the EO promotes. The aspect of this executive order that will have the most significant impact is the implementation of zero-trust architecture. When you look across all the controls that we use to secure technology, embodied in an ever-growing list of NIST Special Publications, it’s getting overwhelming. Zero-Trust can restructure our approach and deliver a fundamentally more secure architecture across the board. 

The executive order also has its failings. One area that needs further consideration is the private sector and how they share threat information. Setting this standard will take a great deal of time and result in new bottlenecks within the private companies that conduct the threat intelligence, now subject to new requirements for feeding this information to government systems. As someone who has worked in global threat intelligence and for various agencies, the amount of information and volume of data may not be fully understood and could severely complicate the ability to execute much of this EO.

The majority of cybersecurity hacks occur due to blatant disregard for security, such as lack of two-factor authentication, egregiously simple passwords, easy-to-access software repositories, and lack of brute-force protection. What’s so upsetting to me as a cybersecurity specialist is how many of these threats can be mitigated within the private sector by increasing security awareness within organisations and by bringing attention to existing policies and procedures. It may be that greater cybersecurity awareness is the most powerful weapon we could have when it comes to the private sector.

 

Mike Fleck - Senior Director, Sales Engineering - Cyren

Yes, it will make a difference. Good security requires a culture of security, and culture is set at the top. This EO signals to government agencies and the tech industry that serves them that they need to prioritise security (if they aren’t already doing so). Some of the requirements have been in place for years. Most government agencies have required encryption for classified information and other sensitive data like Personally Identifiable Information (PII). There are already breach notification requirements like the ones in the HIPAA/HITECH regulation that require affected organisations to share information with their Federal Government regulators. The focus on the software supply chain is smart. We know that supply chains are and have been a common attack target.

Specifically, security standards for the software supply chain will have the largest impact. The government has been aspiring to use more Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) software rather than custom-built solutions. However, it will be difficult to realise the full potential of this EO without some kind of enforcement. This EO could be similar to the process the government recently used to enforce proper security of sensitive government data stored on non-government systems. First, they published security standards (NIST 800-171) and required the defence industrial base to adhere to them. A few years later, they implemented the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification to enforce compliance. 

Enforcement, but that will probably come in time. Also, the devil is in the implementation details. We know the government has a lot of outdated systems that can’t easily be updated to comply with modern security standards. The EO will need to include guidance for how to handle these legacy systems. We also know that government processes are far from agile. We can’t take three years to secure against the threats of the day. How will this EO incent organisations to move faster? High growth companies have long since adopted the mantra of “fail fast.” For very good reasons, the government has resisted that approach – people can die when the government fails (either quick or slowly). Finally, we can improve the security of software development processes, but software will never be 100% secure. Many, many of the large breaches have been caused by a failure to install security updates. We need to acknowledge both the manufacturer and the purchaser of the software bear responsibility to secure it.

Yes, the Software Supply Chain Security aspect should have a deep reach into the private sector. The Federal Government has the largest IT budget in the United States, so anyone selling software to government agencies should have to comply with the relevant aspects of this EO. Again, it will come down to enforcement, so “should” becomes a “must.” Security requirements without enforcement are just security recommendations.

Share article