Security is becoming an increasingly multi-faceted and multi-dimensional concept in global cyberspace. Product data management is a key asset in the manufacturing business, and now, more than ever, in the era of global business supply chain structures in cyberspace, the security of product data and its lifecycle becomes all the more crucial. Outdated border-based security frameworks, strong defenses and internal black-box mechanisms may no longer be able to serve the needs of global businesses. Regulatory complexities, such as recent trade embargo rulings, for example, directly impact global supply chain management of the food and beverage manufacturing sector and their inherent PLM systems.
Global cyberspace needs modern hosting and service infrastructures that are truly “global” and “borderless.” These emergent cyberspace regimes offer an attractive and fascinating environment for global supply chain providers, just what the food and beverage industry requires. This development is inextricably linked to globalization, emerging trade regimes and new international alliances, which are manifesting themselves and flourishing in cyberspace. While it may not appear like this on the surface, cyberspace is actually uniform and unipolar, but housing distinctive regimes. For any organization, the key and critical decision is to properly align and adjust themselves to this exciting new opportunity by restructuring their business operations, markets and management frameworks.
The food & beverage industry has always been tuned into internationalism, at least when it comes to the fact that some ingredients and products are often highly dependent on specific environmental conditions. Basic commodities, spices and main ingredients have also played a big part in the history, often driven by imperialist motives, world power struggles, mechanisms of oppression, but also playing an important role in cultural exchange and nourishment. In the global cyberspace era, where means of transport and storage are now increasingly accessible, the food & beverages industry has not only been able to use exotic spices from the Far East in its recipes and formulas, but do so at lower production costs, high-volume benefits by taking advantage of lower wages and production costs in third world countries. The telecommunications industry has followed this same path, and much of the defense industry too. Now, the food & beverage sector can push prices down on local markets while exploiting the production conditions elsewhere to maintain the profits targeted by greedy shareholders and investors. SaaS and cloud-hosted PLM solutions are key tools in fulfilling this same high profit motive, low costs and effective global operations. Logistics costs may remain minimal if production volumes are high and major risks involved in the transportation and logistics can be avoided. This lucrative opportunity has compelled many food & beverage industry providers to look around for lower production costs and a more optimal supply chain, while at the same time coveting new markets and customer segments. The world is a big and diverse place indeed – nothing like what a simplistic global utopia of coherent stability could perhaps propose.
Supply Chain Security and Product Data Management
It has been said that free cheese exists only in a mouse trap, and similarly, seemingly profitable global cyberspace also comes at a cost. The major cost associated with attracting low cost benefits is higher risks. For a business, this means increased investment in product data security and regulatory compliance, as well as in the organizational capability for resilience and recovery. Global supply chains can potentially ensure the growth of a business, yet specific measures may be needed to ensure that essential company assets, like product data and its lifecycle details, are sufficiently secure. Ensuring the security of product data management in a territorially closed market regime could be increasingly based on bordered architectures, where access to internally hosted and managed services is granted only to relevant parties – most of them being in-house anyway.
However, modern post-national cyberspace businesses require a more open and embracing attitude toward security architectures. In a recent study done at the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland, Tervo concluded (2016) that enterprise resource planning systems, which also include effective product data management, and specifically supply chain management systems, tend to create and establish industry coherence among a diverse set of companies. This is due to the organizational implications of such systems spanning out from the technical or purely process-supportive role, which affects the values, preferences and objectives of the organization by creating more “comparability,” coherence, rather than diversity. Diversity, on the other hand, could be viewed as an advantage for the competition and thereby benefit the system as a whole, while coherence will mostly ensure tractability within an industry, serving the specific mechanisms and positions of strength therein.
That being said, supply chain security in the food & beverage industry (among others) greatly depends on institutionally-led decision-making. Adopting a specific PDM/PLM service may introduce security through association, and indeed security certifications are oftentimes thought as guarantors of a specific security culture, thus creating trust among the relevant parties. As such, a specific group, or even a micro-market regime, can emerge from a certification component such as a specific PLM or PDM service or product. Using a specific product or service may help the company align itself with a reliable supply chain and perhaps even act as a deterrent in itself.
Embracing Global Diversity
Product data management remains critical for global manufacturing businesses, while the profitability margins derived from carefully optimizing security practices and production supply chains may remain low, and options with higher potential profits along with increased risks may also become more relevant. Cyberspace and global diversity is one of the key enablers here. One traditional manufacturing PDM approach was to project power from the corporate side, via regulatory and compliance requirements. However,it remains something that may not be a sustainable approach on a global scale .
Product data management services purchased from an outsourcing partner may be able to absorb some of the related business risks and costs in securing data for global supply chain production. Outsourced services, as described above, along with engaging a company with diverse services and providers, can harness new business opportunities, predictability and persistence on a strategic level as well. Flexibility and agility are the key factors for just about any global manufacturing business today. Moreover, cloud hosting platforms and software purchased as services rather than installed in-house as SpecPDM was will prove to be more flexible. On the other hand, it will ensure the availability of a management margin that can be exploited to gain higher profits and “squeeze” the vendor without risking data confidentiality or manufacturing processes in general.
The key takeaway for the food and beverages industry is that engaging with global SaaS and cloud regimes will certainly give them a leg up toward new business opportunities, increased profits, as well as pave the way for modern and “up-to-date” cyber infrastructures befitting any global corporation. Interacting with global SaaS and cloud regimes is also a key enabler to gain access and entry into markets like China, Russia, Brazil and the emerging Asian economies, specifically the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan. These cyberspace regimes are the future for global trade and more. Furthermore, specific and controlled product lifecycle management will indeed ensure that supply chains remain linear and that products are secure at optimum delivery.