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10 Ways AI Is Improving New Product Development

10 Ways AI Is Improving New Product Development

  • Startups’ ambitious AI-based new product development is driving AI-related investment with $16.5B raised in 2019, driven by 695 deals according to PwC/CB Insights MoneyTree Report, Q1 2020.
  • AI expertise is a skill product development teams are ramping up their recruitment efforts to find, with over 7,800 open positions on Monster, over 3,400 on LinkedIn and over 4,200 on Indeed as of today.
  • One in ten enterprises now uses ten or more AI applications, expanding the Total Available Market for new apps and related products, including chatbots, process optimization and fraud analysis, according to MMC Ventures.

From startups to enterprises racing to get new products launched, AI and machine learning (ML) are making solid contributions to accelerating new product development. There are 15,400 job positions for DevOps and product development engineers with AI and machine learning today on Indeed, LinkedIn and Monster combined. Capgemini predicts the size of the connected products market will range between $519B to $685B this year with AI and ML-enabled services revenue models becoming commonplace.

Rapid advances in AI-based apps, products and services will also force the consolidation of the IoT platform market. The IoT platform providers concentrating on business challenges in vertical markets stand the best chance of surviving the coming IoT platform shakeout. As AI and ML get more ingrained in new product development, the IoT platforms and ecosystems supporting smarter, more connected products need to make plans now how they’re going to keep up. Relying on technology alone, like many IoT platforms are today, isn’t going to be enough to keep up with the pace of change coming.   The following are 10 ways AI is improving new product development today:

  • 14% of enterprises who are the most advanced using AI and ML for new product development earn more than 30% of their revenues from fully digital products or services and lead their peers is successfully using nine key technologies and tools. PwC found that Digital Champions are significantly ahead in generating revenue from new products and services and more than a fifth of champions (29%) earn more than 30% of revenues from new products within two years of information. Digital Champions have high expectations for gaining greater benefits from personalization as well. The following graphic from Digital Product Development 2025: Agile, Collaborative, AI-Driven and Customer Centric, PwC, 2020 (PDF, 45 pp.) compares Digital Champions’ success with AI and ML-based new product development tools versus their peers:

10 Ways AI Is Improving New Product Development

 

  • 61% of enterprises who are the most advanced using AI and ML (Digital Champions) use fully integrated Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems compared to just 12% of organizations not using AI/ML today (Digital Novices). Product Development teams the most advanced in their use of AL & ML achieve greater economies of scale, efficiency and speed gains across the three core areas of development shown below. Digital Champions concentrate on gaining time-to-market and speed advantages in the areas of Digital Prototyping, PLM, co-creation of new products with customers, Product Portfolio Management and Data Analytics and AI adoption:

10 Ways AI Is Improving New Product Development

  • AI is actively being used in the planning, implementation and fine-tuning of interlocking railway equipment product lines and systems.  Engineer-to-order product strategies introduce an exponential number of product, service and network options. Optimizing product configurations require an AI-based logic solver that can factor in all constraints and create a Knowledge Graph to guide deployment. Siemens’ approach to using AI to find the optimal configuration out of 1090 possible combinations provides insights into how AI can help with new product development on a large scale. Source: Siemens, Next Level AI – Powered by Knowledge Graphs and Data Thinking, Siemens China Innovation Day, Michael May, Chengdu, May 15, 2019.

10 Ways AI Is Improving New Product Development

  • Eliminating the roadblocks to getting new products launched starts with using AI to improve demand forecast accuracy. Honeywell is using AI to reduce energy costs and negative price variance by tracking and analyzing price elasticity and price sensitivity as well. Honeywell is integrating AI and machine-learning algorithms into procurement, strategic sourcing and cost management getting solid returns across the new product development process. Source: Honeywell Connected Plant: Analytics and Beyond. (23 pp., PDF, no opt-in) 2017 Honeywell User’s Group.

10 Ways AI Is Improving New Product Development

  • Relying on AI-based techniques to create and fine-tune propensity models that define product line extensions and add-on products that deliver the most profitable cross-sell and up-sell opportunities by product line, customer segment and persona. It’s common to find data-driven new product development and product management teams using propensity models to define the products and services with the highest probability of being purchased. Too often, propensity models are based on imported data, built-in Microsoft Excel, making their ongoing use time-consuming. AI is streamlining creation, fine-tuning and revenue contributions of up-sell and cross-sell strategies by automating the entire progress. The screen below is an example of a propensity model created in Microsoft Power BI.

10 Ways AI Is Improving New Product Development

  • AI is enabling the next generation of frameworks that reduce time-to-market while improving product quality and flexibility in meeting unique customization requirements on every customer order. AI is making it possible to synchronize better suppliers, engineering, DevOps, product management, marketing, pricing, sales and service to ensure a higher probability of a new product succeeding in the market. Leaders in this area include BMC’s Autonomous Digital Enterprise (ADE). BMC’s ADE framework shows the potential to deliver next-generation business models for growth-minded organizations looking to run and reinvent their businesses with AI/ML capabilities and deliver value with competitive differentiation enabled by agility, customer centricity and actionable insights. The ADE framework is capable of flexing and responding more quickly to customer requirements than competitive frameworks due to the following five factors: proven ability to deliver a transcendent customer experience; automated customer interactions and operations across distributed organizations; seeing enterprise DevOps as natural evolution of software DevOps; creating the foundation for a data-driven business that operates with a data mindset and analytical capabilities to enable new revenue streams; and a platform well-suited for adaptive cybersecurity. Taken together, BMC’s ADE framework is what the future of digitally-driven business frameworks look like that can scale to support AI-driven new product development. The following graphic compares the BMC ADE framework (left) and the eight factors driving digital product development as defined by PwC (right) through their extensive research. For more information on BMC’s ADE framework, please see BMC’s Autonomous Digital Enterprise site. For additional information on PwC’s research, please see the document Digital Product Development 2025: Agile, Collaborative, AI-Driven and Customer Centric, PwC, 2020 (PDF, 45 pp.).

10 Ways AI Is Improving New Product Development

  • Using AI to analyze and provide recommendations on how product usability can be improved continuously. It’s common for DevOps, engineering and product management to run A/B tests and multivariate tests to identify the usability features, workflows and app & service responses customers prefer. Based on personal experience, one of the most challenging aspects of new product development is designing an effective, engaging and intuitive user experience that turns usability into a strength for the product. When AI techniques are part of the core new product development cycle, including usability, delivering enjoyable customer experiences, becomes possible. Instead of a new app, service, or device is a chore to use, AI can provide insights to make the experience intuitive and even fun.
  • Forecasting demand for new products, including the causal factors that most drive new sales is an area AI is being applied to today with strong results. From the pragmatic approaches of asking channel partners, indirect and direct sales teams, how many of a new product they will sell to using advanced statistical models, there is a wide variation in how companies forecast demand for a next-generation product. AI and ML are proving to be valuable at taking into account causal factors that influence demand yet had not been known of before.
  • Designing the next generation of Nissan vehicles using AI is streamlining new product development, trimming weeks off new vehicle development schedules. Nissan’s pilot program for using AI to fast-track new vehicle designs is called DriveSpark. It was launched in 2016 as an experimental program and has since proven valuable for accelerating new vehicle development while ensuring compliance and regulatory requirements are met. They’ve also used AI to extend the lifecycles of existing models as well. For more information, see the article, DriveSpark, “Nissan’s Idea: Let An Artificial Intelligence Design Our Cars,” September 2016.
  • Using generative design algorithms that rely on machine learning techniques to factor in design constraints and provide an optimized product design. Having constraint-optimizing logic within a CAD design environment helps GM attain the goal of rapid prototyping. Designers provide definitions of the functional requirements, materials, manufacturing methods and other constraints. In May 2018, General Motors adopted Autodesk generative design software to optimize for weight and other key product criteria essential for the parts being designed to succeed with additive manufacturing. The solution was recently tested with the prototyping of a seatbelt bracket part, which resulted in a single-piece design that is 40% lighter and 20% stronger than the original eight component design. Please see the Harvard Business School case analysis, Project Dreamcatcher: Can Generative Design Accelerate Additive Manufacturing? for additional information.

Additional reading:

2020 AI Predictions, Five ways to go from reality check to real-world payoff, PwC Consulting

Accenture, Manufacturing The Future, Artificial intelligence will fuel the next wave of growth for industrial equipment companies (PDF, 20 pp., no opt-in)

AI Priorities February 2020 5 ways to go from reality check to real-world pay off, PwC, February, 2020 (PDF, 16 pp.)

Anderson, M. (2019). Machine learning in manufacturing. Automotive Design & Production, 131(4), 30-32.

Bruno, J. (2019). How the IIoT can change business models. Manufacturing Engineering, 163(1), 12.

Digital Factories 2020: Shaping The Future Of Manufacturing, PwC DE., 2017 (PDF, 48 pp.)

Digital Product Development 2025: Agile, Collaborative, AI Driven and Customer Centric, PwC, 2020 (PDF, 45 pp.)

Enabling a digital and analytics transformation in heavy-industry manufacturing, McKinsey & Company, December 19, 2019

Global Digital Operations 2018 Survey, Strategy&, PwC, 2018

Governance and Management Economics, 7(2), 31-36.

Greenfield, D. (2019). Advice on scaling IIoT projects. ProFood World

Hayhoe, T., Podhorska, I., Siekelova, A., & Stehel, V. (2019). Sustainable manufacturing in industry 4.0: Cross-sector networks of multiple supply chains, cyber-physical production systems and AI-driven decision-making. Journal of Self-

Industry’s fast-mover advantage: Enterprise value from digital factories, McKinsey & Company, January 10, 2020

Kazuyuki, M. (2019). Digitalization of manufacturing process and open innovation: Survey results of small and medium-sized firms in japan. St. Louis: Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis.

‘Lighthouse’ manufacturers lead the way—can the rest of the world keep up?  McKinsey & Company, January 7, 2019

Machine Learning in Manufacturing – Present and Future Use-Cases, Emerj Artificial Intelligence Research, last updated May 20, 2019, published by Jon Walker

Machine learning, AI are most impactful supply chain technologies. (2019). Material Handling & Logistics

MAPI Foundation, The Manufacturing Evolution: How AI Will Transform Manufacturing & the Workforce of the Future by Robert D. Atkinson, Stephen Ezell, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (PDF, 56 pp., opt-in)

Mapping heavy industry’s digital-manufacturing opportunities, McKinsey & Company, September 24, 2018

McKinsey, AI in production: A game changer for manufacturers with heavy assets, by Eleftherios Charalambous, Robert Feldmann, Gérard Richter and Christoph Schmitz

McKinsey, Digital Manufacturing – escaping pilot purgatory (PDF, 24 pp., no opt-in)

McKinsey, Driving Impact and Scale from Automation and AI, February 2019 (PDF, 100 pp., no opt-in).

McKinsey, ‘Lighthouse’ manufacturers, lead the way—can the rest of the world keep up?,by Enno de Boer, Helena Leurent and Adrian Widmer; January, 2019.

McKinsey, Manufacturing: Analytics unleashes productivity and profitability, by Valerio Dilda, Lapo Mori, Olivier Noterdaeme and Christoph Schmitz, March, 2019

McKinsey/Harvard Business Review, Most of AI’s business uses will be in two areas,

Morey, B. (2019). Manufacturing and AI: Promises and pitfalls. Manufacturing Engineering, 163(1), 10.

Preparing for the next normal via digital manufacturing’s scaling potential, McKinsey & Company, April 10, 2020

Reducing the barriers to entry in advanced analytics. (2019). Manufacturing.Net,

Scaling AI in Manufacturing Operations: A Practitioners Perspective, Capgemini, January, 2020

Seven ways real-time monitoring is driving smart manufacturing. (2019). Manufacturing.Net,

Siemens, Next Level AI – Powered by Knowledge Graphs and Data Thinking, Siemens China Innovation Day, Michael May, Chengdu, May 15, 2019

Smart Factories: Issues of Information Governance Manufacturing Policy Initiative School of Public and Environmental Affairs Indiana University, March 2019 (PDF, 68 pp., no opt-in)

Smartening up with Artificial Intelligence (AI) – What’s in it for Germany and its Industrial Sector? (52 pp., PDF, no opt-in) McKinsey & Company.

Team predicts the useful life of batteries with data and AI. (2019, March 28). R & D.

The AI-powered enterprise: Unlocking the potential of AI at scale, Capgemini Research, July 2020

The Future of AI and Manufacturing, Microsoft, Greg Shaw (PDF, 73 pp., PDF, no opt-in).

The Rise of the AI-Powered Company in the Postcrisis World, Boston Consulting Group, April 2, 2020

Top 8 Data Science Use Cases in Manufacturing, ActiveWizards: A Machine Learning Company Igor Bobriakov, March 12, 2019

Walker, M. E. (2019). Armed with analytics: Manufacturing as a martial art. Industry Week

Wang, J., Ma, Y., Zhang, L., Gao, R. X., & Wu, D. (2018). Deep learning for smart manufacturing: Methods and applications. Journal of Manufacturing Systems, 48, 144–156.

Zulick, J. (2019). How machine learning is transforming industrial production. Machine Design

How To Improve Channel Sales With AI-Based Knowledge Sharing Networks

How To Improve Channel Sales With AI-Based Knowledge Sharing Networks

Bottom Line: Knowledge-sharing networks have been improving supply chain collaboration for decades; it’s time to enhance them with AI and extend them to resellers to revolutionize channel selling with more insights.

The greater the accuracy and speed of supply chain-based data integration and knowledge, the greater the accuracy of custom product orders. Add to that the complexity of selling CPQ and product configurations through channels, and the value of using AI to improve knowledge sharing networks becomes a compelling business case.

Why Channels Need AI-Based Knowledge Sharing Networks Now

Automotive, consumer electronics, high tech, and industrial products manufacturers are combining IoT sensors, microcontrollers, and modular designs to sell channel-configurable smart vehicles and products. AI-based knowledge-sharing networks are crucial to the success of their next-generation products. Likewise, to sell to any of these manufacturers, suppliers need to be pursuing the same strategy. AI-based services, including Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Voice and others, rely on knowledge-sharing networks to collaborate with automotive supply chains and strengthen OEM partnerships. The following graphic reflects how successful Amazon’s Alexa Automotive OEM sales team is at using knowledge-sharing networks to gain design wins across their industry.

The following are a few of the many reasons why creating and continually fine-tuning an AI-based knowledge-sharing network is an evolving strategy worth paying attention to:

  • Supply chains are the primary source of knowledge that must permeate an organization’s structure and channels for the company to stay synchronized to broader market demands. For CPQ channel selling strategies to thrive, they need real-time pricing, availability, available-to-promise, and capable-to-promise data to create accurate, competitive quotes that win deals. The better the supplier collaboration across supply chains and with channel partners, the higher the probability of selling more. A landmark study of the Toyota Production System by Professors Jeffrey H Dyer & Kentaro Nobeoka found that Toyota suppliers value shared data more than cash, making knowledge sharing systems invaluable to them (Dyer, Nobeoka, 2000).
  • Smart manufacturing metrics also need to be contributing real-time data to knowledge sharing systems channel partners use, relying on AI to create quotes for products that can be built the fastest and are the most attractive to each customer. Combining manufacturing’s real-time monitoring data stream of ongoing order progress and production availability with supply chain pricing, availability, and quality data all integrated to a cloud-based CPQ platform gives channel partners what they need to close deals now. AI-based knowledge-sharing networks will link supply chains, manufacturing plants, and channel partners to create smart factories that drive more sales. According to a recent Capgemini study, manufacturers are planning to launch 40% more smart factories in the next five years, increasing their annual investments by 1.7 times compared to the previous three years, according to their recent Smart factories @ scale Capgemini survey. The following graphic illustrates the percentage growth of smart factories across key geographic regions, a key prerequisite for enabling AI-based knowledge-sharing networks with real-time production data:
  • By closing the data gaps between suppliers, manufacturing, and channels, AI-based knowledge-sharing networks give resellers the information they need to sell with greater insight. Amazon’s Alexa OEM marketing teams succeeded in getting the majority of design-in wins with automotive manufacturers designing their next-generation of vehicles with advanced electronics and AI features. The following graphic from Dr. Dyer’s and Nobeoka’s study defines the foundations of a knowledge-sharing network. Applying AI to a mature knowledge-sharing network creates a strong network effect where every new member of the network adds greater value.
  • Setting the foundation for an effective knowledge sharing network needs to start with platforms that have AI and machine learning designed in with structure that can flex for unique channel needs. There are several platforms capable of supporting AI-based knowledge-sharing networks available, each with its strengths and approach to adapting to supply chain, manufacturing, and channel needs. One of the more interesting frameworks not only uses AI and machine learning across its technology pillars but also takes into consideration that a company’s operating model needs to adjust to leverage a connected economy to adapt to changing customer needs. BMC’s Autonomous Digital Enterprise (ADE) is differentiated from many others in how it is designed to capitalize on AI and Machine Learning’s core strengths to create innovation ecosystems in a knowledge-sharing network. Knowledge-sharing networks thrive on continuous learning. It’s good to see major providers using adaptive and machine learning to strengthen their platforms, with BMC’s Automated Mainframe Intelligence (AMI) emerging as a leader. Their approach to using adaptive learning to maintain data quality during system state changes and link exceptions with machine learning to deliver root cause analysis is prescient of where continuous learning needs to go.  The following graphic explains the ADE’s structure.

Conclusion

Knowledge-sharing networks have proven very effective in improving supply chain collaboration, supplier quality, and removing barriers to better inventory management. The next step that’s needed is to extend knowledge-sharing networks to resellers and enable knowledge sharing applications that use AI to tailor product and service recommendations for every customer being quoted and sold to. Imagine resellers being able to create quotes based on the most buildable products that could be delivered in days to buying customers. That’s possible using a knowledge-sharing network. Amazon’s success with Alexa design wins shows how their use of knowledge-sharing systems helped to provide insights needed across automotive OEMs wanted to add voice-activated AI technology to their next-generation vehicles.

References

BMC, Maximizing the Value of Hybrid IT with Holistic Monitoring and AIOps (10 pp., PDF).

BMC Blogs, 2019 Gartner Market Guide for AIOps Platforms, December 2, 2019

Cai, S., Goh, M., De Souza, R., & Li, G. (2013). Knowledge sharing in collaborative supply chains: twin effects of trust and power. International journal of production Research51(7), 2060-2076.

Capgemini Research Institute, Smart factories @ scale: Seizing the trillion-dollar prize through efficiency by design and closed-loop operations, 2019.

Columbus, L, The 10 Most Valuable Metrics in Smart Manufacturing, Forbes, November 20, 2020

Jeffrey H Dyer, & Kentaro Nobeoka. (2000). Creating and managing a high-performance knowledge-sharing network: The Toyota case. Strategic Management Journal: Special Issue: Strategic Networks, 21(3), 345-367.

Myers, M. B., & Cheung, M. S. (2008). Sharing global supply chain knowledge. MIT Sloan Management Review49(4), 67.

Wang, C., & Hu, Q. (2020). Knowledge sharing in supply chain networks: Effects of collaborative innovation activities and capability on innovation performance. Technovation94, 102010.

 

5 Ways To Demystify Zero Trust Security

Bottom Line: Instead of only relying on security vendors’ claims about Zero Trust, benchmark them on a series of five critical success factors instead, with customer results being key.

Analytics, Zero Trust Dominated RSA

Analytics dashboards dominated RSA from a visual standpoint, while Zero Trust Security reigned from an enterprise strategy one. Over 60 vendors claimed to have Zero Trust Security solutions at RSA, with each one defining the concept in a slightly different way.

RSA has evolved into one of the highest energy enterprise-focused conferences today, and in 2019 Zero Trust was center stage in dozens of vendor booths. John Kindervag created the Zero Trust Security framework while at Forrester in 2010. Chase Cunningham, who is a Principal Analyst at Forrester today, is a leading authority on Zero Trust and frequently speaks and writes on the topic. Be sure to follow his blog to stay up to date with his latest research. His most recent post, OK, Zero Trust Is An RSA Buzzword — So What?, captures the current situation on Zero Trust perfectly. Becca Chambers’ blog post, Talking All Things Zero Trust at RSA Conference 2019, includes an insightful video of how the conferences’ attendees define Zero Trust.

With so many vendors claiming to offer Zero Trust solutions, how can you tell which ones have enterprise-ready, scalable solutions?  The following are five ways to demystify Zero Trust:

  1. Customer references are willing to talk and case studies available. With the ambitious goal of visiting every one of the 60 vendors who claimed to have a Zero Trust solution at RSA, I quickly realized that there’s a dearth of customer references. To Chase Cunningham’s point, more customer use cases need to be created, and thankfully that’s on his research agenda. Starting the conversation with each vendor visited by asking for their definition of Zero Trust either led to a debate of whether Zero Trust was needed in the industry or how their existing architecture could morph to fit the framework. Booth staffs at the following companies deserve to be commended for how much they know about their customers’ success with Zero Trust: AkamaiCentrifyCiscoMicrosoftMobileIronPalo Alto NetworksSymantec, and Trend Micro. The team at Ledios Cyberwho was recently acquired by Capgemini, was demonstrating how Zero Trust applied to Industrial Control Systems and shared a wealth of customer insights as well.
  2. Defines success by their customers’ growth, stability and earned trust instead of relying on fear. A key part of de-mystifying Zero Trust is seeing how effective vendors are at becoming partners on the journey their customers are on. While in the Centrify booth I learned of how Interval International has been able to implement a least privilege model for employees, contractors, and consultants, streamline user onboarding, and enable the company to continue its rapid organic growth. At MobileIron, I learned how NASDAQ is scaling mobile applications including CRM to their global sales force on a Zero Trust platform. The most customer-centric Zero Trust vendors tend to differentiate on earned trust over selling fear.
  3. Avoid vendors who have a love-hate relationship with Zero Trust. Zero Trust is having an energizing effect on the security landscape as it provides vendors with a strategic framework they can differentiate themselves in. Security vendors are capitalizing on the market value right now, with product management and engineering teams working overtime to get new applications and platforms ready for market. I found a few vendors who have a love-hate relationship with Zero Trust. They love the marketing mileage or buzz, yet aren’t nearly as enthusiastic about changing product and service strategies. If you’re looking for Zero Trust solutions, be sure to watch for this and find a vendor who is fully committed.
  4. Current product strategies and roadmaps reflect a complete commitment to Zero Trust. Product demos at RSA ranged from supporting the fundamentals of Zero Trust to emulating its concepts on legacy architectures. One of the key attributes to look for is how perimeterless a given security application is that claims to support Zero Trust. How well can a given application protect mobile devices? An IoT device? How can a given application or security platform scale to protect privileged credentials? These are all questions to ask of any vendor who claims to have a Zero Trust solution. Every one of them will have analytics options; the question is whether they fit with your given business scenario. Finally, ask to see how Zero Trust can be automated across all user accounts and how privileged access management can be scaled using Identity Access Management systems including password vaults and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).
  5. A solid API strategy for scaling their applications and platforms with partner successes that prove it. One of the best questions to gauge the depth of commitment any vendor has to Zero Trust is to ask about their API strategy. It’s interesting to hear how vendors with Zero Trust-based product and services strategies are scaling inside their largest customers using APIs. Another aspect of this is to see how many of their services, system integration, technology partners are using their APIs to create customized solutions for customers. Success with an API strategy is a leading indicator of how reliably any Zero Trust vendor will be able to scale in the future.

Conclusion

RSA is in many ways a microcosm of the enterprise security market in general and Zero Trust specifically. The millions of dollars in venture capital invested in security analytics and Zero Trust made it possible for vendors to create exceptional in-booth experiences and demonstrations – much the same way venture investment is fueling many of their roadmaps and sales teams. Zero Trust vendors will need to provide application roadmaps that show their ability to move beyond prevention of breaches to more prediction, at the same time supporting customers’ needs to secure infrastructure, credentials, and systems to ensure uninterrupted growth.

High-Tech’s Greatest Challenge Will Be Securing Supply Chains In 2019

Bottom Line: High-tech manufacturers need to urgently solve the paradox of improving supply chain security while attaining greater visibility across supplier networks if they’re going make the most of smart, connected products’ many growth opportunities in 2019.

The era of smart, connected products is revolutionizing every aspect of manufacturing today, from suppliers to distribution networks. Capgemini estimates that the size of the connected products market will be $519B to $685B by 2020. Manufacturers expect close to 50 percent of their products to be smart, connected products by 2020, according to Capgemini’s Digital Engineering: The new growth engine for discrete manufacturers. The study is downloadable here (PDF, 40 pp., no opt-in).

Smart, connected products free manufacturers and their supply chains from having to rely on transactions and the price wars they create. The smarter the product, the greater the services revenue opportunities. And the more connected a smart product is using IoT and Wi-Fi sensors the more security has to be designed into every potential supplier evaluation, onboarding, quality plan, and ongoing suppliers’ audits. High-tech manufacturers are undertaking all of these strategies today, fueling them with real-time monitoring using barcoding, RFID and IoT sensors to improve visibility across their supply chains.

Gaining even greater visibility into their supply chains using cloud-based track-and-trace systems capable of reporting back the condition of components in transit to the lot and serialized pack level, high-tech suppliers are setting the gold standard for supply chain transparency and visibility. High-tech supply chains dominate many other industries’ supplier networks on accuracy, speed, and scale metrics on a consistent basis, yet the industry is behind on securing its vast supplier network. Every supplier identity and endpoint is a new security perimeter and taking a Zero Trust approach to securing them is the future of complex supply chains. With Zero Trust Privilege, high-tech manufacturers can secure privileged access to infrastructure, DevOps, cloud, containers, Big Data, production, logistics and shipping facilities, systems and teams.

High-Tech Needs to Confront Its Supply Chain Security Problem, Not Dismiss It

It’s ironic that high-tech supply chains are making rapid advances in accuracy and visibility yet still aren’t vetting suppliers thoroughly enough to stop counterfeiting, or worse. Bloomberg’s controversial recent article,The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies, explains how Amazon Web Services (AWS) was considering buying Portland, Oregon-based Elemental Technologies for its video streaming technology, known today as Amazon Prime Video. As part of the due diligence, AWS hired a third-party company to scrutinize Elemental’s security all the way up to the board level. The Elemental servers that handle the video compression were assembled by Super Micro Computer Inc., a San Jose-based company in China. Nested on the servers’ motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn’t part of the boards’ original design that could create a stealth doorway into any network the machines were attached to. Apple (who is also an important Super Micro customer) and AWS deny this ever happened, yet 17 people have confirmed Supermicro had altered hardware, corroborating Bloomberg’s findings.

The hard reality is that the scenario Bloomberg writes about could happen to any high-tech manufacturer today. When it comes to security and 3rd party vendor risk management, many high-tech supply chains are stuck in the 90s while foreign governments, their militaries and the terrorist organizations they support are attempting to design in the ability to breach any network at will. How bad is it?  81% of senior executives involved in overseeing their companies’ global supply chains say 3rd party vendor management including recruiting suppliers is riskiest in China, India, Africa, Russia, and South America according to a recent survey by Baker & McKenzie.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the MIT Forum for Supply Chain Innovation collaborated on a study of 209 companies’ supply chain operations and approaches to 3rd party vendor risk management. The study, PwC and the MIT Forum for Supply Chain Innovation: Making the right risk decisions to strengthen operations performance, quantifies the quick-changing nature of supply chains. 94% say there are changes in the extended supply chain network configuration happening frequently. Relying on trusted and untrusted domain controllers from server operating systems that are decades old can’t keep up with the mercurial pace of supply chains today.

Getting in Control of Security Risks in High-Tech Supply Chains

It’s time for high-tech supply chains to go with a least privilege-based approach to verifying who or what is requesting access to any confidential data across the supply chains. Further, high-tech manufacturers need to extend access request verification to include the context of the request and the risk of the access environment. Today it’s rare to find any high-tech manufacturer going to this level of least-privilege access approach, yet it’s the most viable approach to securing the most critical parts of their supply chains.

By taking a least-privilege access approach, high-tech manufacturers and their suppliers can minimize attack surfaces, improve audit and compliance visibility, and reduce risk, complexity, and operating costs across their hybrid manufacturing ecosystem.

Key actions that high-tech manufacturers can take to secure their supply chain and ensure they don’t end up in an investigative story of hacked supply chains include the following:

  • Taking a Zero Trust approach to securing every endpoint provides high-tech manufacturers with the scale they need to grow. High-tech supply chains are mercurial and fast-moving by nature, guaranteeing they will quickly scale faster than any legacy approaches enterprise security management. Vetting and then onboarding new suppliers needs to start by protecting every endpoint to the production and sourcing level, especially for next-generation smart, connected products.
  • Smart, connected products and the product-as-a-service business models they create are all based on real-time, rich, secured data streams that aren’t being eavesdropped on with components no one knows about. Taking a Zero Trust Privilege-based approach to securing access to diverse supply chains is needed if high-tech manufacturers are going to extend beyond legacy Privileged Access Management (PAM) to secure data being generated from real-time monitoring and data feeds from their smart, connected products today and in the future.
  • Quality management, compliance, and quality audits are all areas high-tech manufacturers excel in today and provide a great foundation to scale to Zero Trust Privilege. High-tech manufacturers have the most advanced quality management, inbound inspection and supplier quality audit techniques in the world. It’s time for the industry to step up on the security side too. By only granting least-privilege access based on verifying who is requesting access, the context of the request, and the risk of the access environment, high-tech manufacturers can make rapid strides to improve supply chain security.
  • Rethink the new product development cycles for smart, connected products and the sensors they rely on, so they’re protected as threat surfaces when built. Designing in security to the new product development process level and further advancing security scrutiny to the schematic and board design level is a must-do. In an era of where we have to assume bad actors are everywhere, every producer of high-tech products needs to realize their designs, product plans, and roadmaps are at risk. Ensuring the IOT and Wi-Fi sensors in smart, connected products aren’t designed to be hackable starts with a Zero Trust approach to defining security for supplier, design, and development networks.

Conclusion

The era of smart, connected products is here, and supply chains are already reverberating with the increased emphasis on components that are easily integrated and have high-speed connectivity. Manufacturing CEOs say it’s exactly what their companies need to grow beyond transaction revenue and the price wars they create. While high-tech manufacturers excel at accuracy, speed, and scale, they are falling short on security. It’s time for the industry to re-evaluate how Zero Trust can stabilize and secure every identity and threat surface across their supply chains with the same precision and intensity quality is today.

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