The agendas of TAPA conferences tend to mostly focus on the current and near-term risks to supply chain security. This October, however, the Association is taking a more long-term view.

TAPA’s 20th Anniversary Global Conference & Exhibition in London promises to look into the future to discuss the next generation of security challenges as supply chains evolve and new technologies change the way we think, live and work. So, as plans take shape for the topics, speakers and, indeed the whole approach to the event, the question Vigilant has been putting to some TAPA members this month is ‘what do you want to learn and take away from the event?’

Reliable and resilient supply chain management will increasingly be a key driver of the bottom lines of more and more companies and security professionals need to be prepared for the emerging challenges, and aware of opportunities to manage risk in new and better ways.

The fact is, of course, that many of the current threats to supply chains won’t simply go away over the next 5, 10 or 20 years. It will all come down to a battle of wits – and, no doubt, budgets - between those trying to protect high value and theft targeted products and those who earn a lucrative living from stealing them.

TAPA plans to open the London conference with a vision of the future; how business will be conducted, what companies will want to do, and how consumers will want to be served. Ultimately, this will set the starting line for supply chain security in the future.

We can already see the threat from cybercrime and we know it is only going to increase, as is perfectly illustrated by the vulnerability of European port security highlighted in this edition of Vigilant. Going out and targeting goods to steal is still a risky, physical business. In the future, the most advanced cybercriminals will command collections and deliveries without leaving their armchairs. They’ll organise for stolen goods to be delivered to their accomplices by unsuspecting and legitimate companies that are simply following what they believe to be accurate instructions. Yet those instructions may have been manipulated by someone on the other side of the world. Yes, it’s already happening – but this is just the beginning and the question many companies continue to shy away from is ‘how well prepared are you to deal with a cyberattack?’

It is just one of many difficult questions businesses need to have an answer to.

If warehouses are going to be run by robots and products are going to be delivered by driverless trucks and drones, will the threat of the traditional ‘inside job’ disappear – or does the greater use of technology play even more directly into the hands of cybercriminals? Will plans for 3D printers built into trucks that produce products on their way to the customers’ door remove the need for as many warehouses?

To identify discussion points for the conference, Vigilant invited a group of TAPA members to list the emerging and future supply chain security risks they would most like to see discussed in London in October. These are some of the responses we received:

  • Urbanisation will completely change the way we have to look at supply chain security. Dense and congested urban areas and large unpopulated rural areas will not necessarily increase the risks to supply chainS overall but they will make it more expensive and challenging to counter risks
  • Cyber risks, including those that target SMEs which provide services to larger companies and that do not necessarily have the same level of cyber defences their customers may have
  • Just how advanced is the development of robotics, driverless vehicles etc, how will companies embrace these technologies to improve efficiencies and take cost out of their supply chains, and what risks might this create?
  • The terrorism threat to supply chains
  • Emerging technologies capable of tackling the scope and complexity of new threats
  • There is an ever-increasing dependency on technology but this is also making us more   vulnerable. Centralised systems offer many benefits; however, if such a system breaks down (monitoring centre, alarm centre, main cargo hub) it creates far more than just a local problem. Currently, Business Continuity Planning is highly under-estimated in terms of protecting supply chains
  • Expensive security technologies can often be quickly eradicated using simple low cost gadgets that can be easily acquired online. What are technology companies doing to prevent this?   
  • Look at the different future challenges facing several Industry Verticals
  • Global patterns of cargo crime and organised crime gangs targeting supply chains
  • The infiltration of organised crime into legal supply chains
  • In-depth intelligence covering multiple aspects of evolving risks
  • The future role of the supply chain security professional and how to instil a security culture within organisations
  • How to prevent or deal with identity theft  
  • Data security and what happens when data is stolen
  • What types of supply chain risks stem from doing business in the rapidly-developing BRIC economies?   
  • Education - most current experts in our field are self-educated but that is no longer going to cut it for the future. We need solid educational programmes with a strong focus on technology to make supply chain security interesting for students and young professionals or we will soon face a serious lack of experts

Members also expressed a clear appetite for working demonstrations of new technologies that could change the way security is done today as well as case studies that give insights into how to deal with new types of criminal M.O. 

Others said they are keen to hear from:

  • Innovative logistics and supply chain organisations which can show futuristic means of transportation that supply chain security professionals will be expected to deal with
  • Academic institutes which can share new approaches to supply chain security and data driven approaches, such as the use of big data and analytics in security
  • Organisations that can share best-in-class case studies with scalability for other companies and sectors

Outside of the main conference, Vigilant also asked TAPA members for their input on what they’d like to see during the times allocated for networking and socialising in London to ensure they get the most value out of the event. The ideas they put forward included:   

  • Repeat workshops for those members that wish to attend more than one
  • Organise more interactive breakout sessions that use members’ input and perspective to come up with a TAPA view on critical issues 
  • Increase the number of Security Service Providers in the exhibition
  • Provide ‘live demos’ of innovative security solutions
  • Make the dinner more interactive and introduce some fun activities that encourage more members to meet and get to know each other

As part of the planning process, TAPA is creating an agenda for London and sourcing the most interesting and capable speakers to address some of the topics raised here as well as other issues that will impact supply chain security in the future.

If you wish to put forward ideas for TAPA’s 20th Anniversary event in London on 25 & 26 October, please email these to info@(*** please remove ***) by no later than 10 April 2017.