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Driving Change in Manufacturing & Logistics: Bots & Apps

Mobile Apps

It took 46 years for a quarter of the United States population to use electricity. It only took seven years to reach the same usage of the internet.

Why is that?

The adoption rate for new technology has steadily accelerated over the years (as shown below) and it’s only speeding up as the current generation adopts technology quicker than any other in history. It’s worth wondering if this trend will continue as technological advancements like big data and bots and apps look to transform the supply chain.


Apps are still widely considered consumer tools and not industrial ones. But even in a consumer capacity, apps still have a ways to go. According to a 2015 study by comScore, Inc, more than 80% of app usage was across only three apps, despite the Apple AppStore having well over two million apps available. As PC sales continue to decline year-over-year, replaced by surging tablet and smart phone sales, the importance of apps will increase dramatically. Yet, businesses haven’t followed suit. Very few of us use apps at work to request vacation days, monitor our KPI’s, let alone manage our supply chain, manufacturing and commercial activities. With the rise of tablets and smart phones, companies that develop software should be building first for mobile devices and secondly for PCs – a stark reversal from years past.

Bots are the natural extension of apps and big data. Bots are automated tasks that are triggered by a specific event or changes in data around them. Common utilizations of bots are visible on many websites today, recognizable in the forms of pop-ups soliciting feedback to help improve the site or by way of live chat agents asking “How can I help?” Live chat bots in particular utilize massive amounts of data. These bots take consumer data and try to answer user questions by using depositories of question and answer banks. If these bots get stuck, they hand the consumer off to a human. However, they are still working in the background and learn from how the human and consumer interact so that they can add the correct response to the question and answer bank, meaning that over time these bots become self-learning.

Self-learning bots, such as these, are important within the supply chain, particularly in contact centers. Traditional contact centers often refer to “butts in seats” to allude to the number of humans working on client communications, but the future is all about “bots in seats.” The value of bots and apps is not limited to the contact center, however. Real-time consumer ordering, manufacturing, and logistics processes are all being revolutionized by bots and apps, too. With these technological advancements businesses can anticipate and react to ERP, MRP, ordering patterns, load schedules, line balancing, real-time feedback, and system interaction in a way that has previously been unthinkable.

Find out how ModusLink is driving change in manufacturing and logistics in this webinar.

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