Clorox to Restart ERP Upgrade as It Looks Past August Cyberattack

In a recent statement, Linda Rendle, CEO of Clorox, shared her insights on the aftermath of a cyberattack that significantly impacted the company in August. Despite having robust cybersecurity measures in place, Clorox found itself among the many enterprises increasingly targeted by sophisticated cybercriminals. “We had very strong cybersecurity practices, talent, training in our organization, and we still got hit,” Rendle remarked at a conference, emphasizing the intricate challenge businesses face in safeguarding their digital infrastructure against emerging threats.

The cyberattack not only disrupted the day-to-day operations of Clorox but also inflicted a considerable financial toll, costing the company approximately $49 million in 2023 alone. According to Rendle, the company experienced a massive distribution disruption, losing nearly half of its distribution capacity during the ordeal.

Following the attack, Clorox saw a significant shift in its executive team, with the departure of its Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Chau Banks, previously serving as Senior Vice President and Chief Information and Data Officer, had her role expanded to encompass information security responsibilities, highlighting the company’s response to evolving cybersecurity needs.

Despite the hurdles, the cyberattack forced Clorox to adapt and innovate. The company’s shift in its operating model showcased resilience, as teams were compelled to undertake “incredibly difficult manual processes” before gradually moving back to automated systems. This period of forced innovation did not deter Clorox from pursuing its strategic priorities, including its venture into exploratory projects around generative artificial intelligence (AI) as part of its broader digital transformation endeavors.

Rendle explained Clorox’s cautious yet optimistic approach toward harnessing generative AI, aiming to focus on specific use cases that promise the most value. “We do not want to do this kind of approach where everybody uses it for their own thing in the company, but get very focused on the right use cases,” she stated. Consumer insights and innovation remain at the forefront of Clorox’s generative AI initiatives. The company is also exploring other avenues for efficiency gains through the application of generative AI tools capable of scanning trends and developing digital prototypes, which could significantly accelerate operational processes.

Introduced only 90 days after initial testing, one such tool has already begun showing promise, reflecting Clorox’s agility in integrating new technologies into its workflow. However, Rendle expressed a cautious optimism, aware of the potential for generative AI to become merely a novelty if not applied strategically. “Just like any tool that consumer companies have today, nobody has a really unique tool,” she noted. “Everyone’s going to have GenAI, but I feel good about the areas that we’ve chosen to start with it on, and we’re learning what other people are doing and we’ll adjust if we need to.”

In the wake of the cyberattack and as Clorox marches forward with its ERP upgrade and digital transformation projects, the company’s journey stands as a testament to the resilience and adaptability required in today’s fast-evolving business landscape. By sharing their experience and how they’ve navigated through these challenges, Rendle hopes to minimize the impact such incidents could have on others, underlining a collective effort in the fight against cyber threats and the embrace of emerging technologies.

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