Digital Supply Chain – what is it, and how do you protect it?

Digital supply chain

New technologies enable businesses to provide the platform for a thoroughly modern supply chain – the digital supply chain. A digital supply chain includes the process of delivering a digital asset from the point of origin to its destination. In today’s technological world, a digital supply chain spans the entire operations of most organisations.  

A digital supply chain utilises advanced technologies and a set of processes to deliver better insights into the functions of each stakeholder along the chain. Not only does this process let each participant make better decisions about the sources of materials they need, but it also allows for the demand for their products and the relationship in between. 

Modernising the global supply chain 

According to EY’s Future Consumer Index, three factors are driving the obsolescence of the global supply chain. First, change in consumer demand is accelerating. During the pandemic, consumers around the world progressively shifted their expectation toward products and services that are digital, local, and sustainable. The vision of truly universal, lightning-fast internet access is being realised thanks to continued smartphone adoption, the emergence of the Internet of Things devices, and next-generation telecom infrastructures such as 5G and low-earth orbit satellite constellations. The future envisioned in Megatrends 2018 expects consumer purchases and decisions will increasingly be voice-driven and machine-augmented, with companies’ relationship with customers machine-to-machine, values-based and digital-first. 

Digital transformation 

A digital transformation of the analogue supply chain is currently underway. Electronic and cloud connectivity is at the heart of the digital supply chain, as are the following technologies: 

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) 
  • Internet of Things (IoT) 
  • Blockchain 
  • Cloud computing 
  • End-to-end digital connectivity 
  • Big data 
  • Predictive analytics 
  • Machine learning 
  • Voice-activated technology 
  • Augmented reality 
  • Virtual reality 
  • Wearable devices 
  • Robotics 
  • Cyber security 
  • 3D printing 
  • Autonomous vehicles 
  • Drones 
  • Control towers 
  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS) 
  • And, much more… 

Global adoption of digital supply chain technologies would replace all elements of an analogue supply chain. A digital supply chain would allow for time tracking of the movement of all goods throughout every aspect of the manufacturing, logistics and transportation processes.

Digital supply chain management 

End-to-end electronic connectivity enables performance management and optimisation of supply chains. This means a digital supply chain will be fully integrated from the customer right through to all levels of suppliers, inclusive of all functions, and with transparency and full visibility. This enables a digital supply chain to be managed intelligently and holistically. 

Cybersecurity attacks can be devastating to an organisation, its digital supply chain, and its assets. Along with the management of a digital supply chain comes the need to be concerned with protecting confidential business information, securing company secrets and meeting data privacy regulations.  

Protecting a digital supply chain 

Start by assessing the risks and prioritising what systems and data are most critical to protect. In the case of cybersecurity and data protection, it is important to assess the risk through two different avenues: business continuity and data loss or compromise. RiskXchange suggests the following when protecting your digital supply chain: 

  • Understanding and mitigating the supply chain security risk of today’s modern enterprises is key to business success 
  • You’re only as secure as the weakest link in your digital supply chain  
  • Make security a core part of the entire supply chain  
  • Make cybersecurity a priority not just within the core enterprise but across all connected organisations as well 
  • Tighter security ensures a more secure enterprise and a secure supply chain 
  • Regulatory implications are also important. For sectors like telecommunications, critical infrastructure, aerospace, and defence, ensuring supply chain security and transparency is key.  

The following steps from our Securing the Supply Chain Guide will help you get ahead: 

1. Create a dedicated programme 

Establish a central programme to incorporate cross-business coordination and coherence to supply chain security decisions.  

2. Gain greater visibility throughout the network 

Bring data and analysis together from across the whole network, including external parties.  

3. Understand threats and weaknesses 

Bring all the data together and expose previously hidden threats and supply chain vulnerabilities.  

4. Put the right solutions in place 

Commit the resources needed to sustain supply chain security in a constantly evolving threat landscape.  

5. Maintain and monitor.  

Implement a range of supply chain security solutions that support automated, intelligent threat detection and continuous monitoring.  

Get in touch with RiskXchange to find out more about digital supply chain and how to secure it.