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9 Min Read

Food and beverage: How to remain resilient in a shifting environment

January 1, 2021 / Unisys Corporation

Short on time? Read the key takeaways:

  •  The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) offers new stability for food and beverage manufacturers through real-time data streaming from devices, enabling them to gain a competitive advantage through the use of cloud, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • Adopting these technologies can improve business visibility, provide data-driven decision making, enable faster operational changes and increase resilience during industry transformation.
  • Cybersecurity is a major concern in the integration of IIoT devices, as they pose real-time security risks and can lead to compliance issues, reputational harm, and supply chain disruption.
  • Food and beverage manufacturers need to prioritize cybersecurity, align IT and OT management practices, and integrate automation and augmented intelligence to build resilience and achieve their transformation goals.

Maintaining resiliency in the face of shifting environments is an ongoing challenge. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is changing manufacturing and providing new stability for food and beverage manufacturers. Armed with real-time data streaming in from strategically deployed devices, early adopters of advanced manufacturing technologies can gain a competitive advantage.

The opportunities for the food and beverage industry are particularly attractive regarding rapidly evolving technologies that open the door for AIOps. IIoT devices can help shift IT operations from a centralized approach into the realm of developers and applications. This paradigm shift allows you to leverage cloud, machine learning and artificial intelligence to drive digital transformation.

Adopting these technologies can make it possible for you to:

  • Gain more visibility into, transparency of and control over key areas of your business
  • Make better decisions thanks to real-time, data-driven information and analysis
  • Implement faster operational changes in the face of market-based threats
  • Take advantage of new opportunities and scale rapidly when needed
  • Maintain resilience during times of rapid change and industry transformation

The shift from siloed data to the world of aggregate, observational and behavioral data can be effectively managed and enhanced using artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps).

Widespread disruption is driving real-time transformation

COVID-19 disrupted global supply chains and digital transformation efforts, forcing companies to embrace remote work and handle the challenges that arise from an abrupt and comprehensive change in workflows.

A distributed workforce introduces new complexities regarding managing operational technology (OT) and informational technology (IT). The threat landscape has abruptly and significantly expanded and managing security across locations and devices is a complex issue many companies find difficult to resolve.

As a result, businesses across the industry have shifted from overall digital transformation to focus on projects promoting scalability and agility to manage risk better.

Security vulnerabilities are increasing across IT environments

IIoT devices provide superlative real-time data but also pose real-time security risks. Integrating IIoT and implementing remote-control systems have expanded attack surfaces for food and beverage manufacturers.

These cybersecurity vulnerabilities can cause significant increases in breaches, causing compliance issues, reputational harm and supply chain disruption.

Unsecured devices can provide access to your system. IIoT devices are commonly attacked minutes of being connected to the internet. Cybersecurity cannot be ignored, given the increase in corporate cyber attacks. Cybersecurity design is also lacking in many OT devices, creating an easy path to exploitation by bad actors.

As OT and IT environments converge, these security vulnerabilities threaten your operational continuity. Since OT devices control and automate critical production systems, even a minor outage or data breach can lead to serious financial repercussions and production delays.

Unfortunately, many organizations don’t see cybersecurity as a core requirement. They overlook the damage that even a minor breach could do in terms of unplanned downtime, loss of public trust, the decimation of employee morale and loss of control over sensitive data.

To maintain resilience, food and beverage manufacturers must future-proof IT and OT operations, strengthen continuity measures and review compliance strategies.

Standard technologies fail to catalyze insights into progress

Technology adoption is growing by leaps and bounds across manufacturing industries. However, many commonly used technology upgrades and replacements are not delivering the business outcomes, user experiences or agility needed to ensure enthusiastic top-down buy-in.

Investing in IT has already helped food and beverage manufacturers improve productivity and operational continuity, but many companies are still not seeing the results they expected. Key stakeholders and leadership figures often expect cloud migration, data analytics and predictive capabilities to provide a clear competitive edge and drive cost savings, delivering an easy-to-visualize return on investment (ROI).

Without cross-functional buy-in and continuous measurement of key performance indicators (KPIs), organizations can struggle to track and correctly attribute ROI. This inevitably leads to wasted resources and poor alignment between business goals and digital transformation initiatives. The resulting negative outcomes can cause a ripple effect throughout an entire organization, hampering responses to market trends, competitive threats and business pressures.

Building and maintaining resilience through the present and beyond

Making cybersecurity a top priority is the starting point for resilience and operational continuity. Security shouldn’t be addressed as a stand-alone or IT-only focused issue but as a business continuity goal. It’s imperative to align your IT and OT management practices to eliminate vulnerabilities in connected devices and systems.

Defining your transformation journey is the next step. Where are you currently, where do you need to be, and where are your priorities? Focus on change management to create a culture of resiliency and adaptability and identify KPIs for measuring results.

Finally, integrate automation and augmented intelligence for added transparency. Benchmarking, metrics tracking and data analysis are critical to your ability to show ROI to stakeholders and other key personnel. Ascertain where each piece of data feeds into your reporting and align your goals and results for insight into your successes.

Fortify a foundation for IT and OT excellence

Embracing IIoT, automation and augmentations will assist in defining your transformation journey and communicating it clearly. Data analysis and cybersecurity will help you set and achieve goals that protect your reputation and build the resilience your company will need going forward.

When you partner with Unisys, you instantly acquire the ability to redevelop your approach to cloud, security and digital workplace services. From cloud infrastructure and IT security to advanced analytics, automation, augmentation and AIOps, we ensure you can deliver on ROI promises and continue innovating to drive your organization forward.

With Unisys, you can protect your operational continuity with proactive threat landscape management and dynamic isolation of threats. You can safeguard your data and network by implementing recommended security measures at each connecting point between your internal systems and the cloud.

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