It is no secret that the internet has transformed supply chains. Whether it’s metadata on the sell-by date of a cargo, real-time shipping progress or factories which know when they are running low on raw materials, modern supply chains now exist in both the physical and digital worlds.

In the rush to unlock the potential of these digital supply chains, however, we have opened up our businesses, organisations and economies to novel forms of fraud and theft by cyber criminals. As supply chain professionals we must adapt to these threats by investing in new skills and processes in the digital age. However, the most important skills for combating cyber crime may well still be routed in the analogue world.

A digital supply chain still encompasses all the elements of a traditional supply chain. Raw materials move from country to country across the value chain toward the consumer. Yet, while the factories, people and products which make up global supply chains can only move as quickly as the physical world allows, the digital supply chain allows them to communicate with each other instantaneously.

Indeed, some parts of our supply chain cease to exist in the physical world entirely. CDs, VHS tapes, maps, even children’s toys have all been replaced to varying degrees by digital media, satellite navigation and online games. This shift from boxes to bytes allows products and services to move directly between their creators and consumers.

Oct-Dec 2016 Issue

Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS)