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FST Soapbox

Hey You – Get On to My Cloud!

By Barbara Levin
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Adoption of cloud-based technologies for food safety and quality assurance: It’s going to happen. It has to happen. It should happen.

There’s been a lot of chat in the blogosphere recently about adoption of cloud-based technologies for food safety and quality assurance (FSQA). When it comes to uncertainty about the cloud, the Food and Beverage industry needs to – and I truly say this with no offense intended – get over it! It’s going to happen. It has to happen. It should happen.

  1. FSQA compliance is only going to get more complex – with testing and audit trails required by law, non-regulatory standards and by customers. This means that all participants in a supply chain are going to have to be connected to get information collected, analyzed and reported in realtime.
  2. It’s not practical, and probably not feasible – particularly in a global food supply chain – to connect participants using ERP-type solutions that are expensive, take a lot of time to deploy and many, many dollars to maintain. 
  3. Most emerging food safety and quality solutions are cloud-based for just that reason. They make it easy to connect suppliers, manufacturers and services/retail customers – without expensive hardware installations – and with affordable, fast to deploy and easy-to-use solutions that have actual hard-dollar return on investment.

So what’s the fuss?

Most concerns seem to be centered around security, so let’s consider some industries which represent the most prominent users of cloud solutions today. Two of the largest are banks, who heavily promote online banking including international cloud banking, and human resources departments of large companies, who rely on cloud-based employee portals for open enrollment, paystub viewing and more. We are talking about some of the most sensitive information out there: individuals’ personal information, social security numbers, salaries, bank accounts, etc. And cloud adoption is growing rapidly in other industries too – like insurance, healthcare and more.

Early cloud adopters in the F&B industry know what industries like banking and human resources know:

  1. There’s as much security in cloud-based solutions as there are in non-cloud technologies – and cloud security is highly configurable to fit the specific needs of individual users. If you want, for example, downstream customers to see only COAs and not see failed FSQA tests – then that’s how your vendor will configure your solution. If you want full transparency you can have that too. And for information that you don’t want anyone to see – like recipes – that is also a part of the security. 
  2. Cloud solution vendors generally exceed government and customer security requirements because they go the extra mile to ensure customer confidence and confidentiality.
  3. And as much as everyone thinks participants in a supply chain will balk about using a cloud system to send/receive FSQA information – the reality is that it makes it easier for everyone to work together – speeding throughput and preventing non-compliant products from coming in or going out. 

So I encourage you to talk to your vendors. Learn more about their cloud security. And, to paraphrase Mr. Jagger, Hey you – get on to my cloud!