Why the Supply Chain Needs the iPhone

Consumer software has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years, but the sad reality is that enterprise software has failed to keep up with that breakneck pace. Thankfully, companies like Slack and Box have shown that enterprise software, especially cloud and mobile-enabled enterprise software, can be just as compelling as what consumers are exposed to. Still, when you look across the supply chain, you find a lot of technology solutions that perpetuate the old, inefficient way of doing things, costing companies significant time and money.

A major part of the problem for supply chain software is that it's often running on bulky, outdated hardware with no modern components or sensors and antiquated operating systems (remember Windows CE?). This issue is especially noticeable with barcode scanners, since many of them still look like they're from a science fiction movie from the 1960s. 

In fact, barcode scanners are a perfect example of something that can be replaced by a mobile device like the iPhone. It's lightweight, it contains a powerful operating system, multiple sensors, a great camera, and ultimately, a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than standard barcode scanners. 

Image Source: Apple

Image Source: Apple

With the iPhone, all sorts of possibilities open up in the supply chain for order entry, inventory management, asset tracking, and much more. The communication capabilities can be used to exchange information with the network and other employees, the global positioning system (GPS) can provide the exact location of an event or item, the camera can document damage to a package, and the sensors can monitor employee productivity by tracking movement and the level of activity. 

Whether it's with barcode scanners or anything else, supply chain leaders needs to stop thinking of smartphones as lesser devices and use them wherever possible. Instead of relying on old hardware to lead the way, we need to flip the model and create powerful software that can take advantage of the capabilities found in mobile devices. 

In addition to the software potential with smartphones, there are also some unique hardware opportunities that are enabled through these mobile platforms. For example, we created the Scandit Case, which is an ergonomically designed iPhone 6/6s case that leverages the built-in LED and camera on the iPhone to provide a scanning experience comparable to a dedicated barcode scanner, without introducing additional electrical components. 

The supply chain may be slow to adopt new technology, but the future is bright for mobile devices in this environment. The simple fact is that the industry is moving in this direction whether the established players like it or not, and when you combine an iPhone with customized software and useful peripherals, then some interesting things can start to happen. 

If you're in charge of making IT decisions for your company, then you can set yourself up for your next promotion by deciding to use mobile devices that save money, increase productivity, and are easy and enjoyable to operate.

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