Amazon Web Services (AWS) is making a foray into supply chain management with the release of a cloud application that integrates machine-learning to help large enterprises, which often use multiple ERP systems, get a unified view of suppliers, inventory, logistics and other supply-chain related components.

The launch of the application, dubbed AWS Supply Chain, comes at a time when the world has been hit with a myriad of supply chain issues, including the pandemic and ongoing war in Ukraine.

Supply chain management (SCM) is the fastest growing market in the enterprise application software segment and is estimated to generate sales of $20.24 billion in 2022, according to market research firm Gartner.

AWS Supply Chain, announced at AWS re:Invent Tuesday, can connect to existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) suites and supply chain management systems via built-in connectors to unify all data into a supply chain data lake, which can be later used to generate actionable insights, the company said. The connectors use pretrained machine learning models based on Amazon.com’s own history of supply chain data to extract and aggregate data from ERP and supply chain management systems.

Most enterprises today use disparate systems for supply chain management, which can  lead to delays in identifying potential supply chain disruptions, said Diego Pantoja-Navajas, vice president of AWS Supply Chain.

AWS Supply Chain offers map-based visualization

To provide supply chain visibility and combat this problem, AWS Supply Chain, which can be accessed via the AWS Management Console, provides a visual representation of the unified data on a real-time visual map that contains contextual information, the company said.

The map-based interface, along with contextual information such as inventory shortages or delays, can be used by inventory managers, demand planners and supply chain leaders to de-escalate potential disruptions, Pantoja-Navajas said, adding that the service could be set to generate alerts in case of disruptive scenarios.

Additionally, AWS Supply Chain will automatically provide recommended actions to resolve supply chain issues, such as moving inventory among locations, after considering factors such as the distance between facilities, and the impact on sustainability, the company said, adding that teams can collaborate within the application using its built-in chat and messaging functionality.

The new service, according to the company, is priced on a pay-as-you-consume model. AWS will charge $0.28 per hour for the first 10GB of storage and services. An additional $0.25 per GB per month will be charged when storage data exceeds 10GB, the company said.

AWS Supply Chain, which is in preview, can be accessed across US East (North Virginia), US West (Oregon), and Europe (Frankfurt), regions, the company said, adding that availability across more regions will follow soon.

Other products that AWS Supply Chain will compete with include Oracle Fusion Cloud SCM and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management.

Cloud Computing, Supply Chain Management Software

The “endless aisle” concept isn’t new, but it’s definitely the future for many supply chain operators. This retail strategy enables customers at a physical store to virtually browse and order any products that are either out of stock or not sold in-store and have them shipped to the store or their home. A fulfillment center or another nearby retail location that has the item in stock fills their order.

Increasingly, consumers expect an endless aisle experience. The pandemic has accelerated the transition to digital shopping and fundamentally changed consumers’ purchasing mindset. Today’s consumers regularly buy everything from daily groceries to new cars online or through an app, and they expect fast delivery — even within an hour, in many cases. If the retailer they go to first can’t meet that expectation, the consumer can open any number of apps and purchase the same product from another retailer, either brick-and-mortar or online, and pick it up or have it delivered when they want it.

So, the pressure is on to create the endless aisle. However, supporting this strategy will require most supply chain operators to significantly modernize their operations, including implementing solutions powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). It requires a mindset shift for operators — from thinking about technology not only as a tool to help lower supply chain costs, but also as the key to preventing missed sales opportunities, filling more orders faster, and increasing profitability.

Top challenges to building the endless aisle

1. Legacy limitations and lack of insight

Many companies, especially in the retail space, have already focused a lot of attention on creating the front-end experience for the endless aisle, giving their customers various digital options for ordering products from both in-store and online inventories. But it’s on the back end where most businesses fall short on delivering this experience: They can’t get the right products from here to there fast enough.

Several issues can hinder an organization’s ability to achieve a true endless aisle experience:

Outdated facilities, order management systems, and supply chain processesInflexible systems that prevent order fulfillment from multiple warehouse or retail locationsThe lack of true, real-time visibility into inventory status (i.e., what is available, where it is located now and where it needs to be)The inability to project where the next order will most likely originate so that inventory can be staged at the closest location to fill that order at the lowest cost

AI and ML play a leading role in helping supply chain operators overcome these limitations and build a next-generation supply chain. Following is a closer look at how these advanced technologies can enable the endless aisle by helping organizations to develop intelligent warehousing and engage confidently in more predictive decision-making.

2. Creating smarter, more flexible warehouses

Historically, supply chain operators have had dedicated warehouses and distribution centers that serve specific customers or regions. That strategy creates complexities for companies in forecasting the type and amount of inventory needed at those facilities. The result is that companies can’t flex much or at all.

No organization can create smarter warehouses or a more agile, flexible supply chain without updating their back-end technology first. Most will also need to rethink their entire order management process — including whether there’s a different way to handle it rather than with their inflexible, traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which lets them map specific products only to specific locations and offers very little visibility.

If these organizations have intelligent warehousing systems within their supply chain, they could request and supply any inventory they have to any customer or geography at any time. They could also confidently enable the endless aisle concept while at the same time reducing shipping costs and delays.

To create intelligent warehousing and deliver the endless aisle, many organizations will need to wrap new technologies like AI and ML around their legacy ERP system to improve and extend its capabilities or even completely replace certain functions. Integrating their ERP system and warehouse management system will also be a critical measure to ensure efficiency and timeliness when the business eventually starts shipping inventory from more places to serve customers in any location.

3. Enabling more predictive, proactive decision-making

Predictive modeling, using both AI and ML, lets an organization know how much inventory to stock, and where to place the goods based on historical and current patterns and behaviors. This insight is a must for any supply chain operator that wants to stay ahead of trends, prepare for future sales, and accelerate order-to-fulfillment time.

ML is also an excellent tool for minimizing costs and lost revenue due to obsolescence, excess inventory, and stockouts. And AI tells the organization where future demand is likely to originate and suggests where future inventory should be placed as it arrives. AI also helps supply chain operators avoid costs from excess shipping charges, long transit times, and stockouts and obsolescence.

These advanced technologies are also essential to providing real-time data insights that inform supply chain “digital twins” — logical views of the physical supply chain used for simulation modeling — that allow the business to understand, well in advance, what options it has to fulfill customer requirements when supply chain disruptions inevitably occur.

Many companies that have made significant progress on their journey toward building a next-generation supply chain are also using AI and ML to enhance their forecasting so they can address their “SKU problem.” They are better able to determine what inventory they need to have on hand instead of keeping two of everything on the shelf “just in case.” More organizations are also embracing AI and ML as force multipliers for their supply chain workforce; intelligent automation is helping them overcome current labor shortages while allowing their existing workers to be more productive.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to modernizing the supply chain, creating intelligent warehousing, and laying the groundwork for the endless aisle. Each company’s journey will vary in scope and duration. Some organizations will choose to augment their existing infrastructure with more intelligent solutions, while others will go so far as to set up entirely new and separate supply chain operations. But the need for change is urgent, and those businesses that act now regardless of any further disruption or uncertainty that may be on the horizon are those that will emerge as tomorrow’s supply chain leaders.

Learn more about Protiviti’s Emerging Technology Solutions and Supply Chain Services.

Connect with the authors:

John Weber

Director – Supply Chain, Protiviti

Geoff Weathersby

Director – IoT and Emerging Technology, Protiviti

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning

Supply chain management is a growing field and a satisfying profession, as a recent survey from the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) found that 96% of those surveyed were highly satisfied with their career in SCM, with average rating of 8.4 out of 10. The survey also found that it pays to get certified: SCM pros with at least one certification get paid on average 19% more than those who aren’t certified, and those with two or three certifications earn salaries that are 39% and 50% higher than the median, respectively.

And with the global supply chain remaining a vital concern for businesses across nearly every industry, the value of those with verifiable SCM skills will likely only increase, especially as IT turns to analytics and other data-related measures to help alleviate issues businesses face with their supply chains.

Whether you’re already making a career in supply chain management, or want to break into the field, here are 12 supply chain management certifications that can round out your resume and give you a leg up against the competition.

Top 12 SCM certifications

ASCM Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution (CLTD)ASCM Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)ASCM Certified Supply Chain Professional certification (CSCP)ASCM Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR-P) EndorsementCertified Six Sigma Black BeltISM Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM)ISM Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity (CPSD)NCMA Certified Professional Contract Manager (CPCM)Oracle E-Business Suite 12 Supply Chain Certified Implementation Specialist: Oracle Purchasing CertificationSCPro Council of Supply Chain Management FundamentalsSCPro Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP)SOLE Certified Professional Logistician (CPL)

ASCM Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution (CLTD)

The Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), formerly known as the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS), offers a number of certifications to demonstrate your SCM skills. The ASCM Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution (CLTD) certification is designed for those focused on improving efficiency in distribution and warehousing in order to optimize the overall customer experience. The exam covers the best practices around logistics, transportation, and distribution with a focus on topics such as logistics overview, network design, sustainability and reverse logistics, capacity planning, demand management, order and inventory management, and global logistics and transportation. According to the ASCM, CLTD certified professionals report earning 25% higher salaries than those without the certification. To earn the CLTD designation, you will need to pass one exam, and to maintain the certification you will need to earn and submit 75 professional development maintenance points every five years.

Exam fee: $985 per exam for Plus members, $1,315 per exam for Core and nonmembers

ASCM Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)

You’ll need to pass two exams within three years to earn your Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) certification from ASCM, and you’ll need to maintain your certification every five years by completing 75 professional development points. If your certification isn’t maintained within five years, it will expire before the 10-year mark, and you will be required to retake the exam. For every year that your certification is suspended, you’ll need to submit an additional 15 professional development points. When considering the cost, remember that you’ll have to pay the fee for both exams — the fee only applies to one exam at a time. According to ASCM, those with a CPIM certification reporting earning up to 23% more per year over their uncertified peers. The exam covers supply chain fundamentals, plan supply, inventory management, continuous improvement and quality management, strategy, sales and operations planning, and inventory, among other topics.

Exam fee: $545 per exam for Plus members, $760 per exam for Core and nonmembers

ASCM Certified Supply Chain Professional certification (CSCP)

To be eligible to take ASCM’s Certified Supply Chain Professional exam, you’ll need three years related experience or a bachelor’s degree or international equivalent. As with the CPIM certification above, you’ll need to submit an extra 15 points for every year your certification is suspended if you let it lapse. The CSCP certification exam covers topics such as supply chains, demand management and forecasting, global supply chain networks, sourcing products and services, internal operations and inventory, supply chain risk, and optimization and sustainability. According to the ASCM, those with a CSCP certification report earning salaries that are 40% higher than their peers.

Exam fee: $1,095 for Plus members, $1,425 for Core and nonmembers

ASCM Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR-P) Endorsement

The SCOR-P endorsement from ASCM validates your knowledge in the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model and methods. The SCOR model is a supply chain approach that helps link SCM to business goals, metrics, processes, and other internal departments and stakeholders. The exam is included in the course, which extensively covers the SCOR model to help you apply it to real-life supply chain problems, support organizational goals, improve efficiency, organize SCOR projects, and implement processes. To become SCOR-P certified, you will need to attend a three-day SCOR-P public training or an in-house corporate training where you’ll study the workbook material in a group setting and take the exam at the end of the three-day training. 

Exam fee: The exam is included in the course fee, which varies per program

Certified Six Sigma

The Six Sigma method was designed to streamline quality management and it’s still widely used today to help eliminate waste in processes, identify areas for improvement, and keep track of the supply chain while developing products. The Six Sigma certification scheme is often found within organizations, earning you “belts” as you move from green belt all the way up to black belt and make your way up the certification ladder. It’s typically used in large companies to create paths towards leadership in operations and to maintain a focus on efficiency and quality. The principles in Six Sigma can be extremely helpful for keeping your supply chain lean and agile, and it’s a valuable certification if you’re working in an organization that leans on the Six Sigma method.

Exam fee: Varies by location and provider

ISM Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM)

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) offers a Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) certification that validates your knowledge on supply management functions across several industries. The ISM touts the CPSM as the “most recognized supply chain management certification” you can earn. To gain your credentials, you will need to pass three exams. The ISM offers several certification paths, including self-paced learning, learning bundles with everything you’ll need for all three exams, guided learning hybrid courses, and classroom-based training onsite at your organization. You can take the three exams in any order but to qualify, you’ll need three years of full-time SCM experience in a position that isn’t clerical or support. To maintain and renew your certification after four years, you’ll need to earn 60 hours of approved continuing education credits. If you already passed ISM’s CPSD certification (see below), you will not need to take the foundation exam for the CPSM certification, since it’s included in both. If you aren’t already a member, the cost of the nonmember fee for the exam also includes one year of ISM Direct membership.

Exam fee: $495 for members, $725 for nonmembers

ISM Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity (CPSD)

The second certification from the ISM is the Certified Professional Supplier Diversity (CPSD) certification, which you can earn on top of the CPSM certification from ISM. It’s a relatively unique certification that focuses on the growing demand for companies to “engage in supplier diversity to be socially responsible or to meet customer or federal requirements,” according to the ISM. The CPSD certification consists of two exams, but you can skip the foundational exam if you already hold your CPSM exam. To qualify for the exam, you’ll need three years of supplier diversity or management experience and a bachelor’s degree, or five years of experience. To maintain your certification, you’ll need to complete 50 hours of approved continuing education credits over a three-year period. According to the ISM, those with a CPSD certification earn around 10% more than their uncertified peers.

Exam fee: $229 for members, $379 for nonmembers

NCMA Certified Professional Contract Manager (CPCM)

The National Contract Management Association (NCMA) offers multiple certifications, including the Certified Professional Contract Manager (CPCM). The certification is designed for those who participate in government-to-business and business-to-business contract and subcontract activities, who want to better understand how buyers’ actions impact sellers and vice versa, and those interested in learning more about contract management. Candidates for the exam will need a strong understanding of the Certified Management Body of Knowledge (CMBOK) and a minimum of five years’ experience in a relevant field. The NCMA also offers a Certified Federal Contract Manager (CFCM) certification for those working in or with the government and a Certified Commercial Contract Manager (CCCM) certification for those in the commercial industry.

Exam fee: $135 for domestic, $160 for international exams

Oracle E-Business Suite 12 Supply Chain Certified Implementation Specialist: Oracle Purchasing Certification

The Oracle E-Business Suite 12 Supply Chain Certified Implementation Specialist certification is targeted at intermediate-level implementation team members who are members of the Oracle PartnerNetwork with a focus on selling and implementing Oracle E-Business Suite Supply Chain Management modules. The certification is designed to show employers that you have the right skillset to navigate the R12 E-Business Suite, enter data, pull information, form queries, and access online help. You’ll also need to know how to manage the purchasing process, set up and use the R12 Oracle Purchasing software, and navigate purchase orders. The exam covers topics such as navigating in R12 Oracle applications, introduction to Oracle Applications R12, shared entities and integration as well as the fundamentals of Flexfields, Multi-Org, and Workflow and Alerts. It also covers topics such as purchasing, suppliers, document security, routing and approval, RFQs and quotations, approved supplier lists and sourcing rules, requisitions, and automation.

Exam fee: $245

SCPro Council of Supply Chain Management Fundamentals

The SCPro Council of Supply Chain Management Fundamentals certification is an entry-level supply chain management certification that offers eight certification tracks that cover the most important aspects of SCM. These tracks include supply chain management principles, transportation operations, demand planning, manufacturing and service operations, customer service operations, warehouse operations, inventory management, supply management, and procurement. There are no eligibility requirements and each exam for the eight tracks consists of a 40-question multiple-choice format and the credentials do not expire or need renewal.

Exam fee: $200 per certification track

SCPro Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP)

The SCPro Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) certification is unique in that it combines a multi-level education with a three-tiered exam process. There are three levels of SCPro certification and the first level, SCPro Level One, covers the fundamentals and eight elements of supply chain management. At the second level, SCPro Level Two: Analysis and Application of Supply Chain Challenges, you’ll be tested on your ability to apply SCM knowledge in various scenarios. The third and final level, SCPro Level Three: Initiation of Supply Chain Transformation, certifies your ability to “positively impact an organization” through a hands-on project that demonstrates your skills. You will need to renew your certification for all three levels every three years, which will require 60 hours of eligible professional development activities. You will need to complete at least 20 hours of professional development annually, but no more than 30 hours per year.

Level 1 exam fee: $650 for members, $975 for nonmembers

Level 2 exam fee: $1,095 for members, $1,500 for nonmembers

Level 3 exam fee: N/A

SOLE Certified Professional Logistician (CPL)

The International Society of Logistics (SOLE) offers a Certified Professional Logistician (CPL) certification in logistics, which is a key element of supply chain management in certain industries such as commerce, defense, federal and local government agencies, and education. The exam takes place twice a year in May and November over an eight-hour period, with two four-hour sessions; you will need to pass all four parts of the exam before you can earn your certification. It’s a relatively advanced certification — to qualify for the CPL exam, you’ll need at least nine years’ experience practicing or teaching logistics and two years’ experience in at least two fields of logistics. Each year of undergraduate accredited coursework in logistics subjects is equivalent to one year of professional experience, up to four years. For those with a master’s degree or doctoral degree, you’ll need four or three years’ additional experience, respectively.

Exam fee: $225 for members, $375 for nonmembers

More on supply chain management:

What is supply chain management? Mastering logistics end to endHow CIOs can help reduce supply chain anxietiesSupply chain woes? Analytics may be the answerSupply chain analytics: 5 tips for smoother logisticsSupply chain analytics: 3 success storiesWhat is SCOR? A model for improving supply chain management10 best graduate programs for supply chain managementCareers, Certifications, IT Skills, Supply Chain Management Software

One reason open source is popular in the enterprise is that it provides well-tested building blocks that can speed up the creation of sophisticated applications and services. But third-party software components and the convenience of packages and containers bring risks along with the benefits because the applications you build are only as secure as those dependencies.

Software supply chain attacks are becoming so widespread that Gartner listed them as the second biggest threat on for 2022. By 2025, the research firm predicts 45% of organizations globally will have experienced one or more software supply chain attacks — and 82% of CIOs think they will be vulnerable to them. These include attacks via vulnerabilities in widely used software components such as Log4j, attacks against the build pipeline (c.f., SolarWinds, Kaseya, and Codecov hacks), or hackers compromising package repositories themselves.

“Attackers have shifted priority from production environments to software supply chains because software supply chains are the weakest link,” explains Lior Levy, CEO of Cycode. “As long as software supply chains remain relatively easy targets, software supply chain attacks will increase.”

Recent high-profile incidents have been a wake-up call for the software development industry, says Rani Osnat, senior vice president of strategy at Aqua Security. “We’ve uncovered decades of opacity and lack of transparency and that’s why it’s such a big deal.”

Studies of codebases that use open source code shows that vulnerabilities and out-of-date or abandoned components are common: 81% of codebases had at least one vulnerability, 50% had more than one high-risk vulnerability, and 88% used components that weren’t the latest version or had no new development in two years.

These issues are unlikely to dent the popularity of open source though — and commercial software and services are also vulnerable. When LastPass was attacked it didn’t lose customer data, but an unauthorized party was able to view and download some of its source code, which might make it easier to attack users of the password manager in the future, and the Twilio breach enabled attackers to launch supply-chain attacks on downstream organizations.

The ‘shadow code’ threat

Just as security teams defend their networks as if already breached, CIOs must assume all code, internal or external, and even the development environments and tools their developers use have already been compromised and put policies in place to protect against and minimize the impact of attacks against their software supply chains.

In fact, Osnat suggests CIOs think about this “shadow code” the way they do about shadow IT. “This needs to be looked at as something that is not just a security problem, but really something that goes deep into how you obtain software, whether it’s open source or commercial: how you bring it into your environment, how you update it, what kind of controls you want to have in place and what kind of controls you want to demand from your suppliers,” he says.

Transparency: Toward a software bill of materials

Physical supply chains already use labels, ingredient lists, safety data sheets, and bills of materials so regulators and consumers know what ends up in products. New initiatives aim to apply similar approaches to software, helping organizations understand the web of dependencies and the attack surface of their software development process.

White House executive order 14028 on software supply chain security requires software vendors supplying the federal government to provide a software bill of materials (SBOM) and use the supply chain levels for software artifacts (SLSA) security checklist to prevent tampering. Because of this, “we’re seeing a lot of enterprises take a much more serious look at their software supply chain,” says senior Forrester analyst Janet Worthington. “All companies today both produce and consume software and we’re seeing more of the producers come to us and say, ‘How do I produce software that is secure and that I can attest to with a software bill of materials.’”

There are numerous cross-industry projects, including NIST’s National Initiative for Improving Cybersecurity in Supply Chains (NIICS), the Supply Chain Integrity, Transparency, and Trust (SCITT) initiative from Microsoft and other IETF members, as well as the OpenSSF Supply Chain Integrity Working Group.

“Everybody is taking a more holistic approach and saying, wait a minute, I need to know what I’m bringing into my supply chain that I’m creating the software with,” Worthington says.

A recent Linux Foundation survey found that SBOM awareness is high, with 47% of IT vendors, service providers, and regulated industries using SBOMs today and 88% expecting to use them in 2023.

SBOMs will be most useful to organizations that already have asset management for software components and APIs. “People who have robust software development processes today find it easier to slot in tools that can generate a software bill of materials,” Worthington says.

SBOMs can be created by the build system, or they can be generated by software composition analysis tools after the fact. Many tools can integrate into CI/CD pipelines and run as part of a build, or even when you pull down libraries, she says. “It can warn you: ‘Hey, you have this component in your pipeline and it’s got a critical issue, do you want to continue?’”

For that to be useful, you need clear policies on how developer teams acquire open-source software, says Chainguard CEO Dan Lorenc. “How do developers know what their company’s policies are for what’s considered ‘secure’ and how do they know that the open source they are acquiring, which constitutes the great majority of all software being used by developers these days, is indeed untampered with?”

He points at the open-source Sigstore project that JavaScript, Java, Kubernetes, and Python use to establish provenance for software packages. “Sigstore is to software integrity sort of what certs are to websites; they basically establish a chain of custody and trust verification system,” he says.

“I think a CIO should start by indoctrinating their developer teams in these fundamental steps of using emerging industry standard approaches for one, locking down build systems, and two, creating a repeatable method to verify trustworthiness of software artifacts before bringing them into the environment,” Lorenc says.

Making the contribution

Whether it’s components, APIs, or serverless functions, most organizations underestimate what they’re using by an order of magnitude unless they run routine inventories, Worthington points out. “They find out that some of these APIs aren’t using proper authentication methods or are maybe not written in a way that they expected them to be and maybe some of them are even deprecated,” she says.

Beyond vulnerabilities, evaluating the community support behind a package is as important as understanding what the code does because not all maintainers want the burden of having their code treated as a critical resource. “Not all open source is made the same,” she warns.

“Open source may be free to download but certainly the use of it is not free. Your use of it means that you as are responsible for understanding the security posture behind it, because it’s in your supply chain. You need to contribute back to it. Your developers need to participate in fixing vulnerabilities,” says Worthington, who suggests organizations should also be prepared to contribute monetarily, either directly to open-source projects or to initiatives that support them with resources and funds. “When you create an open-source strategy, part of that is understanding the budget and implications.”

Don’t think of that as just an expense, but as an opportunity to better understand the components you depend on. “It even helps retain developers because they feel like they’re part of the community. They’re being able to contribute their skills. They can use this on their resume,” she adds.

Remember that vulnerabilities can be found anywhere in your technology stack, including mainframes, which increasingly run Linux and open source as part of the workload but often lack the security processes and frameworks that have become common in other environments.

Protecting your pipeline

Protecting your software delivery pipeline is also important. NIST’s Secure Software Development Framework (SSDF) and SLSA is a good place to start: This covers best practices at various maturity levels starting with a simple build system, then using logs and metadata for audit and incident response through to a fully-secured build pipeline. The CNCF’s Software Supply Chain Best Practices white paper, Gartner’s guidance on mitigating software supply chain security risks, and Microsoft’s OSS Secure Supply Chain Framework, which includes both processes and tools, are also helpful.

It’s important to note, however, that simply turning on automated scanning tools intended to find malicious code can produce too many false positives to be helpful. And although version control systems such as BitBucket, GitHub, GitLab, and others include security and access protection features (including increasingly granular access policy controls, branch protection, code signing, requiring MFA for all contributors, and scanning for secrets and credentials), they often have to be explicitly enabled.

Also, projects such as Factory for Repeatable Secure Creation of Artifacts (FRSCA) that aim to secure build pipelines by implementing SLSA in a single stack aren’t yet ready for production, but CIOs should expect build systems to include more of these practices in future.

Indeed, while SBOMs are only part of the answer, the tools to create and work with them are also still maturing, as are the processes for requesting and consuming them. Contracts need to specify not only that you want SBOMs but how often you expect them to be updated and whether they will include vulnerability reports and notifications, Worthington advises. “If a new important vulnerability like Log4j is found, is the vendor going to tell me or am I going to have to search myself in the SBOM to see if I’m affected?”

Organizations will also need tools to read SBOMs and put in place processes to take actions on what these tools find. “I need a tool that can tell me what are the known vulnerabilities [in the SBOM], what are the licence implications, and does that happen continuously,” Worthington says.

CIOs should keep in mind that an SBOM “is an enabler but it doesn’t actually solve anything in terms of securing your supply chain. It helps you cope with incidents that might come your way,” says Osnat, who is optimistic about both the speed of industry response and the broad collaboration that’s going on around standards for SBOMs  and code attestation that will help make tools interoperable (something organizations raised as a particular concern in the Linux Foundation research). That could lead to the same improvements in the standards of transparency and reporting across the industry that SOC 2 delivered.

That said, CIOs don’t have to wait for new standards or tools to begin making security as much a part of the developer role as quality has become in recent years, Osnat says. His suggestion: “Start by getting your CISO and lead engineer in a room together to figure out what the right model is to make that work for your organization and how that transformation will occur.”

Application Security, Security Practices, Software Deployment, Software Development

For years, auto makers and dealers have used Salesforce for CRM — but it’s involved a hodge-podge of company-specific customizations. Now Salesforce is hoping to sweep that away with Salesforce Automotive Cloud, a dedicated platform for the auto industry that sticks close to industry standards on data exchange.

This new offering has arrived as auto makers rethink their relationships with dealers and intermediaries who handled face-to-face customer relations and local inventory since the pandemic made online auto sales and touchless delivery seem desirable. Until that point, few consumers wanted to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a car they had never seen or touched.

Michael Ramsey, a VP and automotive analyst at Gartner, said Automotive Cloud offers a way for auto makers to take back control of their branding.

“At a basic level, Salesforce built this because they could see that the auto companies were suddenly in need of actually delivering customer experience rather than relying on dealers to do it,” he said.

Achyut Jajoo, Salesforce’s company’s GM of manufacturing and automotive, pointed to moves Ford is already making to impose a new way of working on its dealers. “They basically want them to become more experiential,” he said. “The dealership of the future would actually look more like an Apple Store.”

Automotive Cloud is intended to help auto makers get closer to their customers by analyzing data not just about one person and their vehicle, Jajoo said, but their entire household and all interactions with dealers on one screen.

“And because we have that data, we can now recommend to dealers what next best action to take,” he said. “We’ve created tools to do this in a more declarative fashion, rather than custom coding.” The tools include a rules engine that can look at the data and fire off alerts and recommendations.

By gathering data from their dealers in one place, auto makers will also have a better picture of the market, Jajoo said.

“Now you can run performance analytics: what cars are selling, which make, model, model year, in which geographies, which dealer is performing better — all of those types of things,” he said.

Maintaining standards

One of the things that lubricates data flow around and between enterprises is compliance with standards. The US auto retail industry realized this almost two decades ago, and came together to create the nonprofit corporation Standards for Technology in Automotive Retail. STAR’s members include the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA); automobile manufacturers such as Ford, GM, BMW, and Toyota; and IT vendors such as Microsoft, Nuspire, and Tech Mahindra. Many of STAR’s IT vendor members have offices in Detroit, once known as Motor City and increasingly becoming a hub for technology companies.

STAR deprecated its original flat file exchange format long ago, and now publishes over 200 XML message formats for Business Object Documents (BODs) covering everything from exchanging sales leads through arranging credit, selling the vehicle, servicing it, and ordering parts for repairs to resell it.

Salesforce adheres to STAR’s standards, making sure all necessary fields are available in its platform, said Jajoo: “Salesforce as a platform is API first, so it becomes easy for us to exchange information between parties.”

The company has created templates to facilitate that data exchange. “It’s an ecosystem play,” he says. “We extend this data out for your partners, whether they’re dealers, agents, or other third parties.”

That means companies adopting Automotive Cloud should be able to continue exchanging data with those using other STAR-compliant platforms.

But there’ll be more work involved for CIOs who have already built their automotive CRM systems on the Salesforce platform, as they’ll have to unwind years of customization in order to adopt Automotive Cloud.

“For legacy car companies, it will be a big leap to adopt the platform wholesale because most already have a pretty robust Customer 360-type database,” said Gartner’s Ramsey.

Toyota Financial Services is one of the companies looking forward to the migration challenge. Its digital information officer is excited by the potential Automotive Cloud offers to build more meaningful relationships with customers.

Accelerator peddling

Salesforce isn’t the only company targeting CRM solutions at the automotive industry. Microsoft offers an “automotive accelerator” for its Dynamics CRM product — but, as with Salesforce’s previous efforts, this is more about making it easier for customers to develop applications on top of the vanilla CRM tool to meet their needs, and less about providing a turnkey solution.

“Automotive Cloud provides a modular way to connect customer, car, dealer, and other parts of the organization together that need customer info, like finance, warranty and connected vehicle services,” said Ramsey. There needs to be something like this in place to manage customer IDs and all the interactions between companies, he said, adding, “I’m sure other companies will follow with some kind of vertical offering like this, but right now it fits in a niche that’s a step above a standard CRM and is something closer to a customer operating system,” he said.

CIO, Cloud Management

Data-driven supply chains continues to be a hot topic, given what’s happened over the last couple of years with the pandemic, lockdowns, transportation woes, container ships held outside ports, war in Ukraine and other issues wreaking havoc. Problems caused by these events are ongoing, but if addressed from a proactive rather than reactive standpoint, there are ways to mitigate their detrimental impact, especially when the analytics and processes become clear.

“What we’re seeing with clients, as we focus on a data-driven supply chain, is enabling data-backed decisions at all levels of the organization,” says Singleton. “Historically, supply chains have been slow to adopt technologies and analytics, but great strides have been made to upgrade systems to capture critical data in the supply chain. Now the question is how to return all of the data we have into transforming and enabling our people to make decisions—backed by that data—to create a proactive supply chain versus a reactive one to market conditions.”

Anticipating supply chain issues rather than responding to them is also a principal means to give companies an advantage over their competitors in terms of not only being able to access an increased amount of data, but having the means to effectively utilize that data in a customized and targeted way.

“Data in general has been exploding for years in all facets and all verticals,” says Abel. “And in the area of supply chain in particular, given the challenges of the pandemic, wars, chipageddon and everything else, the ability to leverage that data and create transparency up and down your entire supply chain, and run analytics on it, is the game changer now occurring.”

But when such compound disruption occurs, creating a battle on many fronts, that’s when the analytics and data become even more important because managing multiple crises at different points of the supply chain requires a more refined, targeted and accurate approach than wielding a blunt object. The ultimate goal is to eliminate the climate for crises before they happen in the first place, but the common denominator is talent and getting the right people in place who are equipped to find answers.

“We tend to focus on the technology, which generally relates to databases, BI and analytic solutions,” says Patel. “All of those things are fairly mature and available, and many companies have implemented them over the years. So we have good technology available and we want to use it effectively. But when we look at supply chain, a lot of data tends to be disparate, and getting that collected in one location or connected so you can do these deeper analytics and visualization across all of those data sets is a hard problem to solve. The people side of things is the hardest element. Far too many people are used to reports, dashboards and doing the basics and I think we need to raise the level of understanding of data and then help them with experts who can answer the hard questions.”

Abel, Patel and Singleton recently spoke with Ken Mingis, executive editor of Computerworld and host of the IDG Tech(talk) podcast, about organizational advantages realized through the data-driven supply chain, and enabling the right people to interpret that data to make more informed decisions.

Here are some edited excerpts of that conversation. Watch the full video below for more insights.

John Abel

John Abel on data management: Supply chain planning has been around forever. I know my role. I’m used to the rearview-looking aspect. Some don’t know the art of the possible or the potential there is, so it’s not that they don’t know what to do with it, but there’s no one on their team with the skill set to create the art of the possible.

So it’s bringing the skill sets into the organization in order to create. That’s where most companies are currently lagging. It’s going beyond the traditional view that supply chain professionals had of just delivering outcomes based on traditional KPIs. So going beyond that and combining traditional supply chain for information with customer data or with usage, or with customer experience, that’s when you start understanding what plays into your ecosystem of delivering better outcomes that bring top-line revenue or bottom-line cost reduction.

Those are the outcomes, ultimately, that drive most organizations. The one key thing is, if you haven’t already begun on this journey, starting sooner rather than later is key. Just look at the available data and understand that. Then arm yourself with the right talent to understand your ecosystem and how you get the right outcomes.

Manesh Patel

Manesh Patel on handling expectations: One thing many companies did was manage their supply chains in a standard capability. If we think about MRP, communicating downstream to suppliers and vendors and so on, that’s a complex problem statement in the first place. And I think just doing the day-to-day, week-to-week sort of processes was onerous in the first place and a lot of companies were focused on that.

Then with the pandemic, we all started to react and handle these exceptions, which are much harder to do because they’re all different. And I think we’ve become more adept at addressing those exceptions in the last three years. We still have a long way to go though. Grasping those exceptions has become very critical and one thing we’ve realized is this is not a one-off thing. Whether for a war, climate or something else, it is a reality of our future.

Erik Singleton

Erik Singleton on data literacy: A warehouse supervisor before might have looked at a dock or floor and said, “Okay, I’m doing good for the day.” But now they can see key metrics and concrete UPHs or KPIs. But how do they action on that? Just having the data is not enough. It’s teaching your people to think with a data mindset and really get them articulate, interpret and analyze data that has a meaningful impact. So there are so many components of just integrating, but then it’s also empowering people to use the information they have.

John Abel on data volume: Data volumes are growing everywhere. The good news is the technology side can handle that. We’re able to process and select large amounts of data but the reality is that people are getting overwhelmed. So how do you turn massive recent explosions in data into value, and what are the analytics you use?

One use case is we’re helping a customer in the sporting world by outfitting stadiums with networking devices to get huge amounts of data and give analytics back, which then they can turn into more value for their customers. The people who can look at the volumes coming in, parse it down and turn it into value are a unique skill set and hard to come by. It’s really about taking large amounts of data in your ecosystem and beyond your ecosystem, and finding what value you can drive by using analytics.

Supply Chain

Many view today’s supply chains as true marvels of modern existence — push a button and a desired object is delivered to one’s doorstep. Others see modern supply chains disrupting local economies and damaging the environment.

Massively complex, interdependent, and subject to disruptions, supply chains were, for the most part just a few years ago, the purview of midlevel executives operating out of sight of newsrooms and boardrooms. The pandemic, escalating geopolitical tensions, cyberattacks, and severe weather events have made the supply chain a universal issue subject to boardroom and even White House scrutiny.

Supply chain disruptions and irregularities leading to shortages, delays, and escalating price increases have become defining realities of modern business today. So too is the fallout of an ever-expanding knowledge set that sees modern enterprises filled with black boxes of “we-know-it’s-important-but-we-don’t-really-understand-it” specialty areas. Supply chain used to be one of those black boxes. But CEOs and boards of directors are now demanding that the supply chain black box be opened and fully explained. This is not a trivial exercise — and it is one that CIOs need to undertake strategically.

The CIO as transparency and data delivery champion

Prior to the pandemic, most people — even businesses — took supply chains for granted. You wanted something, or needed a part to produce a product, and you simply ordered it and it would be delivered — quickly, affordably, and with forecastable precision. This is no longer the case. Supply chain realities are changing how organizations operate, and how they design and deliver new products and services.

But the first step to making supply chains more resilient is transparency. For IT, this means mapping the total end-to-end flow of material, tasks, and costs from product/service design to ultimate customer delivery. This exercise will surface high-risk areas of the supply chain such as the auto industry’s overdependence on a few semiconductor factories in Taiwan, or the global pharmaceutical sectors’ reliance on Chinese supplies for foundational life science ingredients.

One life sciences organization had secured the raw materials needed to manufacture its end product but failed to account for supply issues with the packaging of that medicine. Shortages in the ink used to print expiration dates on the packaging made shipping the product impossible. The adequate supply of ink for labeling, not raw materials for production, had become the bottleneck in the supply chain. Companies must pay attention to all aspects of their supply chain.

Of course, history tells us that management teams have a tendency to overcorrect in response to many crises. Yes, we have learned that existing supply chains are not as resilient as we thought. But before rearchitecting the entire supply chain, CIOs and their C-suite colleagues need to collect estimates regarding how much will more money resilient supply chains will actually cost.

Scholars at the DHL Initiative on Globalization at the NYU Stern Center for the Future of Management remind us that attitudes regarding supply chain strategies are not etched in stone: “In an April 2020 survey, 83% of executives said their companies planned on nearshoring to regionalize their supply chains. When the same survey was repeated in March-April 2021, only 23% still said they were planning on nearshoring.”

Historically the CIO and the IT organization have delivered and managed the transactional and information systems that drive the supply chain. In most organizations, IT and the CIO have not taken the responsibility of aggregating and making sense of the end-to-end data supply chain systems generate. They should assist the data analytics team in implementing digital dashboards for end-to-end supply chain visibility.

Supply chain analytics are the key way CIOs can help address this central business issue — and help ensure the strategic response on the part of the business to supply issues is measured, realistic, and impactful.

As for customers’ concerns about the impact of supply chains on the environment, analytics can too play a part — as well as messaging.

Research at MIT’s Sustainable Supply Chain Lab shows that with the proper messaging, “70% of the consumers surveyed were willing to delay home deliveries by approximately five days if given an environmental incentive to do so at the time of purchase.” Furthermore, the words used to describe the eco-benefit mattered as well: “Around 90% of respondents accepted slower deliveries when they were told about the number of trees saved, compared with 40% of those who were told about reduced emissions.”

So, in addition to helping establish ESG-related metrics around the impact of their companies supply chains, CIOs can also help establish channels for open and honest communication with customers regarding supply chain realities through customer engagement initiatives aimed at putting data to work to assuage their concerns.

Supply Chain

NetSuite is adding a host of new features and applications to its cloud-based NetSuite ERP suite, in an effort to enhance its automation capabilities and compete with midmarket rivals such as Epicor, IFS, Microsoft Dynamics, Infor, and Zoho in multiple domains including HR, supply chain, banking, finance, and sales.

The new capabilities were announced Wednesday at the company’s annual SuiteWorld conference in Las Vegas.

NetSuite and other ERP software providers have been focusing on automation as CIOs and other C-suite leaders look to navigate challenges such as labor shortages and supply chain issues caused by geopolitical crises and the pandemic, said R Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Enterprises want to cut down the number of employee hours spent on certain processes, and so are asking for automation, Wang said, adding that automation frees up resources to focus on strategic areas and can cut down errors in repetitive tasks.

NetSuite differentiates itself from its corporate parent, Oracle, by focusing on customers in the midmarket segment that may not be big or complex enough to require, or may not be ready to implement, many separate applications.    

“The addition of the new tools feeds directly into the expansion of the suite strategy as most NetSuite customers prefer to keep all software solutions inside NetSuite,” Wang said.

NetSuite uses the SaaS model, with customers paying a subscription fee based on number of users.  NetSuite ERP is a suite of applications that work together, reside on a common database, and are designed to automate core enterprise business processes. The ERP suite is  available on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure; companies need various tools and connectors to run the system on infrastructure from other cloud providers.

New tools automate routine HR tasks

In an effort to automate some human resources tasks such as wage calculations and attendance tracking, NetSuite has added a workforce management software suite to its HR application, SuitePeople. The software includes tools that can help schedule shifts, calculate labor and operational metrics, and record employee engagement.

A new visual scheduling tool, according to NetSuite, will allow companies to eliminate the use of standalone scheduling applications or spreadsheets.  It also enables teams to use a combination of forecasts, employee schedule templates, labor costs, and labor deployment models to build a staffing plan.

In order to automatically track attendance, the management suite of tools comes with a SuitePeople Time Clock that gives employees various capabilities, available via mobile devices, to record time and attendance. Time Clock comes with options for photo capture and biometric fingerprint verification that eliminate the risk of employees logging in and out of work on behalf of other employees, NetSuite said.

In addition, SuitePeople’s now can also automate wage calculations, as data from other tools such as Time Clock and scheduler can flow directly into the payroll tool for processing.

The SuitePeople Workforce Management suite is presently available in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  Information on timing of the rollout in other geographies was not immediately available.

Mobile app enhances warehouse operations

NetSuite has also introduced a new mobile application, NetSuite Ship Central, as part of its warehouse management system (WMS) software suite. WMS software is typically architected to optimize warehouse tasks such as manpower allocation and inventory control.

The mobile application, which can also be installed on a kiosk device, is expected to minimize shipping costs and transit times, NetSuite said.

NetSuite Ship Central is being sold now in the US and will be available worldwide in November, the company said.

Automation speeds accounts payable

Looking to help enterprises process bills and pay vendors faster from within NetSuite’s ERP platform, the company has introduced a new tool, Accounts Payable (AP) Automation, inside its SuiteBanking application.

The tool can capture vendor bills using machine learning-based object detection and optical character recognition (OCR), the company said, adding that it comes with a bill-matching and approvals feature to avoid overpayment or fraudulent or duplicate payments.

Automated bill matching ensures vendor bills are two- or three-way matched with the associated purchase orders to ensure details such as unit pricing, quantity, and totals are accurate, NetSuite said.

The new tool comes with a vendor payment automation feature in partnership with HSBC Bank, the company added. This partnership allows enterprises to access payment options such as checks or virtual credit cards, among others.

AP Automation also offers payment reconciliation, designed to improve the accuracy of accounting with the help of a rules engine that matches and reconciles virtual credit card charges while flagging discrepancies for further review by accounting staff. 

“Having core account aspects within the ERP gives the user the opportunity to incorporate all the other data flows within the organization into their accounts payable planning and accounts payable strategy. Using one window to see the entire spend workflow and ERP data saves time and reduces errors,” said Kevin Permenter, research director at IDC.

The software is currently available in the US, and Oracle is offering free implementation, no charges for bill scanning, plus a 50% discount on the subscription fee to its first 1,000 customers for AP Automation.

CPQ tool streamlines sales process

NetSuite also introduced a new add-on sales application, NetSuite Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ). The software, according to the company, will help enterprise sales teams configure, price and quote complex products accurately and reliably, directly from with the NetSuite ERP.

While the guided selling feature is designed to allow enterprises to find the exact products and services needed from thousands of SKUs by providing an e-commerce-like catalog experience and filtering tools, the configurator feature allows enterprises to save time spent on reworking orders by applying customizable rules that ensure every configuration, across product and service features, is correct.

The add-on tool, which is priced separately from the core NetSuite ERP system, is currently being offered only in the North America region and includes features such as a proposal generator, bill of materials calculator and e-commerce integration.

ERP Systems

To help meet the needs of enterprises that are looking to navigate uncertain economic conditions while complying with new data regulations, ServiceNow has released the next iteration of its Now workflow automation platform, dubbed Tokyo, with new features that focus on easing supply chain complexities and optimizing asset and human resource (HR) management.

Tokyo’s release comes just months after the company released the previous version of the Now platform, named San Diego, that focused on personalization and automation of work experiences.

The new release, according to the company, is geared more toward chief financial officers and chief operating officers who are looking for a return on their IT investment.

Simplifying the supply base

The release comes with a new feature, dubbed Supplier Lifecycle Management (SLM), that can read names and other data of suppliers from emails and spreadsheets and move them into a new window inside the Now platform.

Automatically moving these supplier contacts and information, according to ServiceNow, helps enterprises reduce operating cost and allows the supply chain team to focus on creating a more resilient supplier base.

The SLM also offers a supplier-facing interface that can be used to launch queries for the enterprise.

For users in the enterprise itself, Tokyo includes a new tool, dubbed Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), designed to automatically track and help manage the full lifecycle of physical business assets, from planning to retirement, for industries such as healthcare, financial services, retail, manufacturing, and the public sector.

The EAM tool can enhance companies’ strategic planning capabilies as it allows easy visibility into the enterprise asset estate, the company said, adding that EAM can alo help to optimize inventory levels in order to generate maximum efficiency from existing assets.

Automating HR issue resolution

ServiceNow’s Tokyo release also offers features that focus on simplifying human resource management.

One new feature, Issue Auto Resolution for Human Resources (ITSM), is designed to help HR teams manage issues brought up by company staff by applying natural language understanding to analyze employee requests and deliver content through the same channels used by employee. These channels can be Microsoft Teams, SMS or email, the company said, adding that ITSM understands and routes any request to a specific HR representatives in case of pressing matters.

Another feature, dubbed Manager Hub, is focused on employee retention. The feature, which can be accessed via the Employee Center (desktop or mobile), provides a single window for managers within an enterprise to map employee milestones and review them.

The Manager Hub can be used by an enterprise to deliver personalized training to all managers within an enterprise, Service Now said.

Security and Sustainability

The Tokyo iteration of Now also comes with added sustainability-planning and security features.

The new release offers a feature named Vault, designed to secure business-critical ServiceNow applications by using controls such as flexible key management and data anonymization. It also allows enterprises to export their ServiceNow system and application logs at scale and in near real-time, the company said.

Another tool in Tokyo’s arsenal is the Admin Center, which allows system administrators to discover, install and configure ServiceNow tools or features through a self-service interface. Admin Center, according to the company, can take advantage of new Adoption Blueprint features, which in turn can recommend applications to administrators based on criteria such as instance maturity and application entitlements.

In order to help enterprises plan and manage their sustainability goals, the Now platform’s Tokyo release comes with an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) management tool.

The tool, according to the company, can track performance towards goals, collect and validate data for audits and create reports that aligns with major ESG reporting frameworks.

Human Resources, Supply Chain Management Software

Organizations with lagging supply chain maturity are at a disadvantage. They lack digitization – and therefore have more manual work. Plus, there’s little visibility into their operations, often resulting in poor planning and collaboration.

An enterprise can’t help but be inefficient and operate with low resilience and little agility in this environment. Inevitably, the organization will face higher costs, more risk, and deliver subpar services to other enterprises and customers. Moreover, in today’s highly disruptive and competitive environment, competitors will easily surpass them.

To improve both efficiency and resiliency in the supply chain, companies must pay attention and address the gaps and misalignment throughout their supply chains.

The best way to accomplish that, and increase supply chain maturity, is with supply chain convergence. This approach involves aligning systems, data, and processes from across an organization so all departments can successfully collaborate and seamlessly share data.

Yet, supply-chain convergence can seem overwhelming for enterprises with lower supply-chain maturity. Luckily, today’s technology can help companies leap their maturity, and there are specific steps to take to get started.

Six steps enterprises with lower supply-chain maturity can take right now toward supply-chain convergence include:

Understand the silos, gaps, and misalignment in your supply chain. Then, take a thorough inventory and include company leaders and managers from across departments to get a complete picture of the gaps across your organization.Prioritize what gaps need to be reduced. After compiling a thorough list of the gaps and misalignments, choose one or two to address first. Then, consider the ones that, by correcting, would result in the biggest impact on customer service and the bottom line.Simplify processes. Set a goal to eliminate any outdated, redundant systems you might have as well as elaborate processes. Simplification is an important strategic process to keep businesses lean and agile. Find technology and a platform that can make your supply chain more seamless.Outsource non-core functions when feasible. Find an external service provider to help with non-core functions. This is an important step in the simplification process and will allow you to focus on core and competitive functions.Build alignment and synchronization. Encourage alignment across the end-to-end supply chain. Having the right technology in place will help foster synchronization and collaboration.Continue to expand visibility and collaboration throughout the supply chain. Building up your supply chain maturity is a process that takes time. Continue to assess your operations and set achievable goals as you go.

Companies that bolster supply chain maturity through supply chain convergence should expect improvement in several areas, including supplier collaboration, cost management, and new product development.

Strong supplier collaboration helps build supply chain efficiency, resiliency, and sustainability. In addition, strong cost management is a powerful tool to create a competitive advantage jointly with suppliers.

Often, new product development is run inefficiently because of silos in the organization, which impacts time-to-market and business opportunities. However, the business can derive significant value when good collaborative processes and alignment are established between procurement, supply chain, engineering and suppliers.

While, at first, supply-chain convergence might seem daunting for organizations just getting started, by committing to specific steps, you’ll be well on your way to building a resilient, sustainable, and profitable supply chain.

At GEP, we help companies with transformative, holistic supply chain solutions so they can become more agile and resilient. Our end-to-end comprehensive, unified solutions harness technology to change organizations for the better. To find out more, visit GEP.

Supply Chain