In brief

In brief

  • As supply chains become more complex and more connected, supply chain security is becoming a bigger and bigger issue for enterprises.
  • As many as four in ten cyberattacks are now thought to originate in the extended supply chain, not the enterprise itself.
  • Accenture’s report explores why supply chain risks are growing and includes examples of recent supply chain cyberattacks.
  • The report also provides a set of practical recommendations for improving security and enhancing visibility across the entire supply chain network.

The security of supply chains is becoming an urgent issue for enterprises. In our complex, interlinked world, security is no longer about trying to put a moat around your own organization. You must consider the whole network of relationships that comprise modern supply chains.

In fact, you’re only as secure as the weakest link in your supply chain.

What’s changed? To meet evolving customer and market expectations, Chief Supply Chain Officers have been creating intelligent supply chains, reconfiguring them for greater resilience, transparency, and speed. In the process, traditional linear supply chains are being transformed into more flexible, more digital, more closely connected supply chain networks.

The result? Modern enterprises have many more points of connection with the outside world than previously. And there’s more data flowing through those connections than ever before. That provides essential business agility and speed. But it massively increases the risk profile, both in the size of the potential cybersecurity attack surface, and in the flow of products and components through supply chains.

Forty percent of cybersecurity attacks are now thought to originate within the extended supply chain.

Time to think holistically about security

Accenture’s report, Securing the Supply Chain: Understanding and mitigating the security risks of modern enterprise supply networks, recommends Chief Supply Chain Officers urgently rethink their supply chain security in a far more holistic way.

That means undertaking a supply chain transformation that makes security – both in a physical and a cyber sense – a core part of the strategy and embeds security principles all the way across the supply chain network. It also includes developing supply chain traceability solutions for improved visibility.

The result will be a more secure enterprise and more secure supply chain. But there are many other potential upsides—consider the focus on customer-centricity. A potential for improved customer brand perception exists, if the business can prove its security credentials across its whole supply chain network, bolstering trust and transparency.

And there are regulatory implications too. In sectors like telecommunications, critical infrastructure, aerospace and defense, proving supply chain security is becoming a de facto standard for doing business. Other sectors may well follow.

Five steps to supply chain security

The report makes a series of practical recommendations for embedding security across the supply chain:

1. Create a dedicated program office.

Establish a "center of gravity" to bring coordination and coherence to supply chain security decisions.

2. Get better visibility throughout the network.

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

3. Understand threats and weaknesses holistically.

Put all the pieces together and expose previously hidden threats and supply chain vulnerabilities.

4. Create a toolbox of solutions.

Get access to a range of supply chain security solutions—including intelligent automation where appropriate.

5. Maintain and monitor.

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

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In today’s hyper-connected world, and especially given the increased fluidity needed to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain security is a growing issue that needs to be higher up the C-suite agenda.

Enterprises should seize this moment to ensure their supply chain security is fit for purpose. That means working with suppliers to increase visibility, understanding the threats and vulnerabilities holistically, and developing a range of flexible tools and best practices to mitigate the risks.

Roy Hu

Managing Director – Security, CMT, Accenture

Lilian Ngobi​​

Functional Strategy Manager – Accenture Strategy, Supply Chain & Operations, North America​​


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