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Salesforce, NIST Tap into Smith Research, Course Innovation

Dec 02, 2014
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The Supply Chain Management Center in the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business recently provided:

  • An anchor for a National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) initiative to cyber protect business supply chains; and
  • Insight to Smith supply chain course innovation at a star-studded annual conference for software developers

Salesforce.com, Inc., tapped center co-director and research professor Sandor Boyson to present “(How Smith is) Training Tomorrow’s Business Leaders in Supply Chain Resiliency Concepts” as part of the company’s recent Dreamforce 2014 conference.  

The San Francisco backdrop for Boyson’s session included keynotes by the likes of media mogul Arianna Huffington and World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab, plus Al Gore and Hillary Rodham Clinton. More than 100,000 participants – plus more online – were looking, according to Salesforce, to glean customer relations management insight from “industry visionaries, product experts and world leaders.”

Regarding NIST, Boyson and center colleagues recently leveraged four years of institute-funded research to launch an online portal to accelerate the adoption of guidelines and practices that can meet the fast-evolving challenges of cyber-securing supply chains across industries.

An Emerging Management Science

The center’s online “Cyber Risk Management Portal” enables companies, via separate functions, to assess their wherewithal to cyber-protect their supply chains, peer-benchmark their risk levels and gauge how much to invest in cyber insurance.

About 150 various-sized companies have logged on to the portal at no cost to use this scalable tool to determine their capability-maturity levels in attaining NIST practice guidelines for securing the IT systems, software and networks that globally connect suppliers, manufacturers and retailers.

“The portal helps individual organizations understand their risk and how they can better manage it. This bolsters the resilience and security posture of the entire U.S. economy," said Jon Boyens, senior advisor for information security in NIST’s computer security division, in a report at UMD Right Now.

In a piece he wrote for the Washington Post’s Capital Business section, Boyson said:  “Cyber technology increasingly pervades the end-to-end production and distribution of goods. Cyber-securing the supply chain means securing the IT systems, software and networks that globally connect suppliers, manufacturers and retailers. Threats encompass malicious tampering, data theft and counterfeiting.”

Collaborating with Boyson on the supporting research are Thomas Corsi, the Michelle Smith Professor of Logistics and Supply Chain Management Center co-director and Hart Rossman, a senior research fellow for the center. Smith CIO Holly Mann, as the project's chief technology architect, “has been invaluable to this project in providing the portal framework,” Boyson said.

The study has entered a fifth phase focused on federal agency-private contractor supply chains. The work will include updating the portal and training those managers to utilize it.

The industrial engineering journal Technovation published the Smith findings to date in a recent issue guest-edited by Boyson. 

Course Innovation Draws Dreamforce Invite

Boyson drew his Dreamforce presentation from a collaborative initiative with supply chain resiliency solutions firm Resilinc to boost M.S. in Supply Chain Management Program curriculum

The Smith School integrated the company’s SupplyIntel software into a Salesforce-furnished cloud platform, including 120 operating licenses provided by the Salesforce Foundation.  

The program is designed to map global supply chains across multiple tiers, identify critical supply chain dependencies, expose potential vulnerabilities and single points of failure, manage risk mitigation and optimize resiliency practices throughout the organization.

Smith students in class are projecting, tracking and solving supply chain disruptions around the globe in real time – with the same program widely used in industry. The course, “Supply Chain Risk Management” launched last year for M.S. students and is open this fall to MBAs, including Chris Tjiattas.

“The class brings theory to life,” said Tjiattas. “We are getting hands-on experience with tools used in industry. We apply risk mitigation strategies to real life situations. Using this software, we can simulate a typhoon heading towards your Taiwan-based supplier and have a real understanding of the impact and gain experience on how to deal with the situation.”

The class prepares students for business, Tjiattas added. “We won't be seeing this software for the first time on day one on the job. We will understand the data from the start and have experience applying it to the theory – making us more valuable from the start.” 

PhD Students Measuring Risk Management Impact

Separately, Smith PhD students Camil Martinez and John Patrick-Parvaskevas – with professors Curt Grimm and Thomas Corsi – have begun a collaborative study with Reslinic. “We’re developing an econometric model from which we can estimate the impacts of various supply chain risk measures on firm financial performance,” said Parvaskevas. The Resilinc database is uniquely accommodating for this analysis, with its very comprehensive and detailed database of supply chain relationships and risk measures.”

The Reslinc integration has, moreover, sparked further teaching innovation, said Boyson. “Holly (Mann) identified an additional way to leverage our Salesforce licenses into the curriculum – as an app-building platform,” he said.  "App-savvy customer relations managers have an edge in a tech-driven marketplace. This advantage is now built into our program.”

Mann said Salesforce – as an industry leader in customer relationship management – fosters app-building by its clients within its embedded apps marketplace. “Incorporating this dynamic into our supply chain management curriculum gives our students an edge in impressing prospective employers and eventually thriving for their companies that are likely to operate in the Salesforce cloud.”

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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