The Smart Supply Chain: Bridging the Gap between Connectivity and Value
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of our favorite topics here at ModusLink, and we’ve worked to stay ahead of the pulse to help our innovative customers take full advantage of the opportunities it brings to the supply chain. These opportunities will only increase over the next few years, according to analyst firm Gartner – the number of total connected devices is predicted to reach 25 billion by 2020.
Beyond the obvious supply chain role of getting connected devices from factories and warehouses into the hands of users, the IoT is part of a new wave of innovation for the global logistics industry, bringing with it a level of efficiency that supply chain professionals from years past would not have experienced. Here is a closer look at how the IoT is bridging the gap between connectivity and value.
The biggest advantage the IoT brings to the supply chain is unprecedented, real-time insight across every step of the supply chain. The real-time visibility enabled by the IoT means information can be shared not only in real-time, but at every level – allowing deficiencies to be identified quickly so that problems can be immediately rectified, or prevented altogether. Rather than relying on anecdotal information from different teams spread across disparate locations, management can easily access a real-time snapshot of supply chain analytics and make decisions accordingly.
Keeping Customers Happy
Another key area of value delivered by the IoT is enabling organizations to better meet the increasing demands of customers. Not only do customers want real-time information on where their product is and how long it will take them to receive it, with companies boasting same-day delivery, consumers’ appetite for convenience and instant gratification have drastically increased. With the push of a button, shoppers can have a new iPhone delivered that very same day, or even have a week’s worth of groceries arrive at their doorstep within the hour.
Recognizing this, companies leveraging IoT in their supply chain are able to take instant gratification to the next level to deliver the ultimate in customer experience. We are entering a time where customers will not need to re-order anything. When a product gets low, IoT technologies trigger automatic replenishment actions so the customer receives the product before they even need to re-order it themselves. Is a device defective? Not a problem. When a device is connected to the IoT, smart organizations can collect and analyze data in real-time to set up maintenance schedules, proactively intervene when a device needs servicing and gauge long-term device performance trends that will help the company to drive future improvements. If need be, a new device will be automatically shipped to before the customer even recognizes there is a problem.
The Bottom Line
All points on the supply chain are dependent on each other to run smoothly, and the increasing connectivity between them is creating levels of visibility we would have never thought possible just a few short years ago. The result is a well-oiled machine that optimizes efficiency across the entire product lifecycle, from production through end-user consumption.
Ultimately, the rise of the IoT is bringing about a singular shift in how companies operate, and our power lies in our ability to curate, manage and leverage this IoT data from partners, suppliers and customers and effectively turn it into actionable knowledge.
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