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How the Internet of Things will affect the Supply Chain

By: Grant King, IndustrySearch Writer
12 August, 2015

You may not know it yet, but the Internet of Things (IoT) could well be the biggest 'thing' affecting your business future.

It's certainly shaping up that way, though if you haven't the foggiest notion what the Internet of Things is, you'll have reason to doubt such a grand statement. So before telling you how and why, let's cover the 'what.'

What exactly is the Internet of Things?    

Basically it's any 'thing' connected to the internet. Not long ago that was computers and computers alone. Now, of course, wifi has allowed mobile phones to be almost permanently connected to the net, hands, ears and eyes of the world with experts predicting more than 26 billion mobile phones will be online by 2020 (at which time conversation will officially cease to exist.)

'Things' are also anything else that can or soon will be connected to the internet – headphones, watches and other wearables, as well as coffee machines, washing machines, toasters, you name it, if it's got an on/off switch, it will be the next 'thing' to join the Internet of Things.

Is this a good thing or bad thing?

It's possibly bad as the internet takes more and more control of our lives than it already has. But from a commercial point of view it's mostly good. Manufacturing processes are already part of the Internet of Things with robots and automation critical to competitiveness.

And it won't stop there; anything that can be connected, from an airline to an oil rig, will be connected until the Internet of Things is one massive interacting web of 'things' sending and receiving messages, instructions and data. Scary? Yes. Exciting? Definitely!

Billions of new links in the supply chain  

The Internet of Things will allow technologically savvy businesses to track their processes in real time, accumulate invaluable data as it happens, and then adapt their performance just as quickly. Critical links in the supply chain will be changed forever.

Supply and demand on command

With everything from the customer's shopping cart to the manufacturer's machines hooked up to the IoT, demand management will literally be 'live and as it happens.' Businesses will be able to balance customer requirements against factory output instantly with a procurement, production and delivery system operating with up-to-the-minute precision and speed.    

Making customer relationships click

With everyone connected to every 'thing' and playing out their day-to-day activities so publicly, accumulating data on new customers and potential new markets will get easier and easier. Maintaining those relationships through social networks and relevant content will become an integral marketing tool.

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