In the business world, seldom do you find widespread agreement on any topic. However, everyone seems to know that the Internet of Things (IoT) is important and getting more so—especially in the ways that organizations handle transportation and logistics.
"If you look at from supply chain perceptive, IoT is going to be transformative in connecting the physical world to digital world in a new way," Mark Wheeler, director of supply chain solutions at Zebra Technologies told EBN in an interview. "These technology allows intelligent assets to be visible in the cloud and accessible in a new way."
Although consumers may be most enamored by the Apple Watch or other technological toys, the really exciting uses will be in the realm of industrial IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) applications. By every measure, the understanding is nearly unanimous—and supply chain organizations are already getting hopping on the bandwagon. "There are very strong expectations that this will be transformative across industries and organizational functions," said Wheeler. "In transportation and logistics, better visibility translates into better utilization."
According to a recent Forrester survey, 90% of transportation of logistics companies either have or plan to deploy IoT solutions within the next year. (The survey polled IT decision makers in 593 organizations in 16 countries.) The benefits are substantial, organizations said, citing improvements to:
- Regulatory compliance (cited by 51%)
- Delivery processes (51%)
- Safety (45%)
- Cost efficiency (44%)
- Supply chain visibility (44%)
Of course, the right technologies are needed to support the use of connected tech to streamline the supply chain. Users pointed to WiFi, security sensors, near field communications (NFC) and real-time locating systems (RTLS) as the most important enabling technologies.
In addition, organizations are thinking carefully about overcoming some of the obvious challenges. Nearly 40% of those surveyed listed privacy and security concerns as the largest challenges ahead. Another 38% pointed to the complexity of implementation. "Broadly, a lot of the solutions we envision for IoT can be done today with available technology, but it tends to be highly complex and one-off," said Wheeler. "What we are looking for out of IoT is standard ways of connecting and securing these devices to the cloud, as well as apps to leverage that visibility."
Take a look at the infographic below, from Zebra Technologies. How is your organization leveraging or planning to leverage IoT in its supply chain? Let us know in the comments section below.
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN