IoT in the Supply Chain

3 Things You Should Know

1. IOT WILL GENERATE A MASSIVE WAVE OF NEW SUPPLY CHAIN DATA.

Sensors are tagging and connecting factories, ships, and machines, even down to cartons and items. Sensors provide awareness of real-time conditions, and connectivity allows "things" to instantly communicate conditions via the Internet. These objects essentially become smart. They transmit signals and data that are captured to provide a closer picture of the true state of business. Managers can make decisions and take action based on that data—which will soon be everywhere, in mass quantities.

2. EXECUTING THE IOT SUPPLY CHAIN REQUIRES A CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM.

The data streaming in—from trading partners, ships, trucks, factories, DCs, stores, weather bureaus, and ports—needs to be standardized, sorted, and visible. In addition, it has to be usable. This requires a central hub or platform. Similar to how ERP software operates internally, the central nervous system is the connective tissue between all parties and things. It houses the data and makes it actionable. Businesses can have unprecedented visibility into every process and transaction along the way. And actionable data will provide a layer of predictive insights.

Severe weather, port delays, or late delivery of goods are accounted for to assess priorities and options, and offer the optimal decision automatically. This central hub resides in the cloud, providing a networked ecosystem that serves as the foundation of the IoT supply chain.

3. IOT IS ALREADY HERE, TODAY.

Fortune 500 companies have already begun implementing this real-time, "live" IoT platform in order to answer key questions such as: "Where is this particular shipment?" and "When will it actually arrive?" This means real-time visibility into the precise location of shipments.

But the question is not only where is it? Where is it going to be? is what matters. Platform analytics process hundreds of thousands of data points in real time—comparing vessel trajectories and speed against diversion-causing weather forecasts; tweets about labor strikes in the ports of destination; predicted lower- or higher-than-usual port dwell times; port congestion caused by natural disasters—to provide predictive indicators into the precise arrival time, down to the hour, the moment shipments leave ports of origin (a vast improvement over static freight forwarder ETAs, which can be off by days or weeks).

Tracking the movement of goods today is still fragmented by region and mode. Processes still rely on phone calls and emails.

True visibility is minimal—leaving agility off the table. The IoT brings a massive opportunity to leverage new levels of connectivity and massive waves of data, to assure the timely delivery of goods.